Presencing with Soul
Transpersonal Perspectives on Awareness-Based Social Change Practice
Keywords:presencing, consciousness, transpersonal psychology, active imagination, spiritual practice, social change
In his outline of Theory U, an awareness-based social change methodology, Scharmer (2018) depicts seven stages of presencing which he suggests can enable deeper modes of perception and knowing, to help us actualise our highest potential for social, economic, and cultural renewal. In this paper I attempt to shine a deeper light into the seven stages of presencing, by drawing from the fields of transpersonal psychology, quantum physics, and consciousness studies. In doing so, my objective is to operationalise in psychological terms key processes in presencing, such as “letting go”, letting come”, “connecting to source”, and “dialoguing with the universe”. I explore what such processes may involve and what they may demand of presencing practitioners.
In the first half of the paper, I map Scharmer’s (2018) seven stages onto three core streams of consciousness which inform the human experience, reflecting on the features and qualities of each stream, and considering what psychosomatic dynamics may be at play as we enact the trajectory of the U. In depicting the three streams of consciousness, I highlight some of the challenges which presencing presents, suggesting that it is, in essence, a depth-psychological and spiritual approach.
In the second half of the paper, I explore the practical and ethical implications of presencing, considering what capacities and attitudes may need to be nurtured in practitioners to support skilful facilitation and enactment of the U process. I also consider what frameworks could be deployed to facilitate safe and effective practice.
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