Archive of research dissertations
by Alef Trust MSc students

This research explores the transpersonal in sport, with an emphasis on how the transpersonal coaching method of Open Awareness affects current or former sportspeople. The research question is inspired by my personal journey through being a professional sportsperson to integrating those experiences into regular life. Moustakes’ Heuristic Inquiry (1990) is a qualitative methodology ideally suited – informed by the researcher’s personal experience – to exploring seven participants/co-researchers’ experiences as current or former sportspeople and how they can be impacted by Open Awareness. Open Awareness is a state of being that can be accessed at any time and any place, and allows individuals to step out of tunnel awareness, reduce self-talk, activate relaxation, sharpen sensory acuity, and reduce reactions of fear and stress. Co-researchers were provided with an Open Awareness information sheet and asked to explore the tool for a period of 4 weeks, at which point they were interviewed. Analysis of interviews uncovered themes and the results are presented through individual depictions, an exemplary portrait and composite depiction, and a creative synthesis. The discussion adds insight to transpersonal psychology and suggests that Open Awareness can be a useful transpersonal coaching tool to benefit sportspeople on and off the sporting field.

According to a new research report published by Finaccord, the total number of expatriates worldwide amounted to around 66.2 million in 2017. This figure has grown at a compound annual rate of 5.8% since 2013. By 2021, Finaccord forecasted that the number will reach around 87.5 million. Among them, retirees account for 5.2 %, roughly 4.6 million in 2021. However, if academic research on forced immigration or expatriated workers is extensive, very little literature exists on people who chose to live abroad when retired as perhaps engaging with death and old age is a taboo subject in Western societies. Thus the present research may contribute to the understanding of this phenomenon as a new class of citizens is emerging, symbolized by the archetypes of the Old Sage and the Traveller, transnational, promoting multiculturalism and looking for novelty and freedom. Using organic inquiry as a research method, the dynamics behind the decision of moving abroad are explored as well as the transformative process experienced not only by the expatriated retirees but also by the host and the home countries. The psychological and spiritual consequences are scrutinised through a transpersonal lens, i.e., focusing on the transformation of the self, the unfolding of a new identity, and the emergence of a different level of consciousness. Three main themes emerged from this research: (a) the multidimensionality of the causes of the departure ; (b) the transformational and challenging dimension of the journey making the return to the home country impossible and (c) the impact of multiculturalism and transnationality.

This dissertation is a study of integrating spiritual emergency. The qualitative research method of transcendental phenomenology and semi-structured interviews were utilized to describe seven individuals’ lived experience of integration. This study specifically looks at healthy integration as participants were sought who found themselves to be in a more authentic, mature, and fulfilling state of life. What emerged conclusively were contexts for integration: the body, nature, safety; alongside the understanding that this is a lengthy phenomenon spanning decades. There was strong disdain for the western psychiatric model of pathology, in that it was viewed as a deterrent to integration. Through trust and surrender, participants experienced integration as healing, re-defining boundaries (physical and non-physical), and a discernment of the ‘right’ support. Integration was a lonely process for participants, which ultimately led them to finding belonging. Three phases are proposed for experiencers of spiritual emergency (self-regulation, integration, and balance). Integration is becoming a balanced, stable, grounded, and functional human being who can comfortably hold consensus reality and non-ordinary experiences. Study results add to the existent transpersonal theoretical literature and limited academic research on this phenomenon, for the benefit of clinicians and experiencers of spiritual emergency.

This study aimed to explore the experience of ancestral grief of the motherline, and the nature of transformation when engaging with practices of reconnection. The research project uses the qualitative method of heuristic inquiry, with a topic that is grounded in the personal experience of the researcher as a self-identified culture maker. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five co-researchers. Three of them contributed additional materials in the form of images. The results indicate that ancestral grief is experienced within the body, and that the transformational process of reconnection brings about themes of longing, cultural context, land and lineage, presence, and collaboration. The findings identify primary places of disconnection from loss, the importance of connecting in more embodied ways and developing compassion for the motherline, the importance of land when there is difficulty connecting directly with lineage, expanding intuition, and gaining clarity of one’s collective purpose.

Single Spiritual But Not Religious (S,SBNR) mothers face marginalisation for being spiritual (Eise & Rawat, 2023) and for being single (O’Reilly, 2021). Oppressive patriarchal ideology and rising individualism in western culture augment maternal responsibilities. Feminist perspectives (Glaser, 2021; O’Reilly, 2010) highlight developmental and sociocultural concerns yet gaps in theoretical knowledge limit effective interventions. Molina (2021) found maternal spiritual connections were beneficial in married mothers, yet little is known about single mothers. The meaning and impact of Spiritual Community (SC) to six S,SBNR mothers was explored in this heuristic inquiry featuring interviews and personal experimentation. Moustakas’ (1990) stages of immersion, incubation, illumination and explication manifested the intuitive and creative thematic analysis. Main findings demonstrate this demographic is uniquely challenged, and that SC is a vital component in maternal and child wellbeing trajectories. SC is a safe space for processual unfolding, reduces allostatic overload, stems loneliness and maintains spiritual integrity. SC is preventative to toxic stress and improves motivation and commitment to conscious parenting. The research expands theoretical perspectives and shows S,SBNR mothers are enacting a paradigmatic shift in parenting and in mental health. Future directions should increase social justice through exploring potential interventions to make it easier to build quality community in motherhood.

The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between trauma and spiritual awakening, investigate how inner transformation is experienced and described, determine its aftereffects and the potential deeper meaning that these descriptions may convey. Five participants from diverse age groups and ethnic backgrounds were interviewed within Organic Inquiry framework. The data was collected and analysed in a non-linear manner and involved working with transpersonal ways of knowing and beyond-ego sources in the liminal realm. The findings are supportive of previous research into posttraumatic transformation and highlight a positive shift in various aspects of wakefulness including changes in outlook on life, general well-being, increased sense of purpose and transformation of personal relationships. The main shared aspect reported by the participants relates to the sense of oneness and connectedness that seemed to manifest through a variety of somatic sensations, cognitive insights and perceptual changes. From this perspective, the experience of posttraumatic transformation can be understood as an awakening to a reality of oneness that results in a reorientation of values and life purpose. This refocus appears to stem from a realisation of connectedness and interdependence that brings about an increased drive to add value to the world. The transformation of the researcher’s and participants’ perspective seemed to be furthered by engagement in the study.

This qualitative study investigates the transformative mechanisms that underlie health behaviour changes following meaningful experiences with classic psychedelics. Drawing upon existing literature that highlights the potential of psychedelics to foster positive health outcomes and lifestyle changes, this research seeks to identify and elucidate the psychological mechanisms propelling these changes. In this context, the study aims to address the gap in empirical research elucidating psychedelic-induced health behaviour change. Using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), semi-structured interviews were conducted with 9 participants who reported changes in health behaviours post-psychedelic experience. The interviews focused on their retrospective accounts of psychedelic experiences and subsequent health behaviour changes, including traditional aspects such as diet and exercise and newer components like spiritual practices and nature time. The findings underscored connectedness as a fundamental transformative factor, fostering shifts in health behaviours. This connectedness, experienced at an intrapersonal, interpersonal, and nature-related level, appeared to be mediated by emotional acceptance, embodiment, spirituality, and personal values. These mechanisms revealed through participants’ narratives, have substantial implications for the field of health behaviour change, suggesting a potential role for psychedelics in facilitating healthier lifestyles. In conclusion, the study highlights the capacity of psychedelic experiences to induce positive health behaviour transformations. These insights hold potential for the design of novel, substance-free interventions encouraging health behaviour changes and healthier lifestyles. The research also calls for continued investigation into the complex interplay between psychedelics and other lifestyle practices, contributing to the growing dialogue surrounding the transformative potential of psychedelics.

Previous research investigating the relationship between anger expression and spirituality has yielded conflicting results. It has focussed on exploring the quantitative relationship within limited populations (students), using measures too narrow to account for the multidimensionality of anger expression. This study aims to enhance understanding through a mixed methods approach using multi-dimensional measures. This explanatory sequential study aimed to explore the relationship between anger expression and spirituality by obtaining quantitative results from surveying 50 experienced meditators and following up with five purposely selected meditators to explore those findings further. The quantitative findings suggest that spirituality and mindfulness (observing and non-reacting facets) are associated with reduced reactivity and aggressive expression and increased calm, assertive verbal expression. Surprisingly, existential spirituality was associated with less aggressive, not more assertive, anger expression. In the follow-up qualitative phase, Transcendental Phenomenological analysis revealed four major themes: 1) enacting spiritual purpose; 2) emotional healing; 3) personal and spiritual evolution; and 4) becoming conscious. The results of each phase are discussed in reference to previous research. Due to only females being interviewed in the second phase, caution in generalising the findings across genders should be exercised.

This phenomenological study aims to bridge the notable gap in understanding what it means to be a good person by exploring the lived experiences of six individuals who self-identify as being good and have spent sufficient time reflecting on this self-perception. Through in-depth interviews, the study seeks to answer the research question: What is the lived experience through a transpersonal perspective of being a good person? Combining Moustakas’s transcendental phenomenology and Wilber’s quadrant model allowed for a deep exploration of the participant’s experiences and perspectives, leading to the emergence of four key themes: 1) Goodness is a Choice, emphasizing conscious decision-making; 2) Autonomy, highlighting the individual’s capacity for independent action while acknowledging their interconnectedness with others; 3) The Good Place, representing an internal oasis of goodness that individuals strive to cultivate within themselves; and 4) Healthy Boundaries, which involves setting protective limits for personal well-being while considering the needs of others. The four themes are further underpinned by the central theme of ‘Holons,’ revealing that genuine goodness involves rejecting dominance within influential collectives and pursuing a greater good that benefits all. Good individuals are integral, autonomous parts of larger wholes, displaying characteristics of both self-preservation and self-transcendence.

This case study investigated the healing potential of the ancient technique of shamanic journeying on self-disclosed generational trauma with experienced journey practitioners. Currently, there are no studies on the exploration of the shamanic journey within the context of generation trauma. The aim of this study was to gain insight into the potential that the shamanic journey could offer in healing generational trauma. Current psychotherapeutic techniques that are used for healing trauma have risks of retraumatisation and treatment can last up to months and maybe years. Shamanic practices fundamentally treat trauma, and can be effective with one single journey session. Shamanic journeying is an ancient technique that involves entering an altered state of consciousness to access spiritual realms to gain knowledge, healing and understanding. Five participants experienced with the journeying process and had self-disclosed generational trauma, were taken through a set of three journey sessions, facilitated by me. The intention set within these sessions was to gain resources and guidance in healing personal generational trauma. Interviews were conducted before and after the sessions to ascertain the participants position with generational trauma. Significant, beneficial changes were reported with no negative experiences within the time frame of three to four weeks. In conclusion, shamanic journeying is a worthwhile tool to consider in healing generational trauma and needs further research to explore its efficacy on the wider scope of generational trauma.

With the global unfolding of climate and ecological crises, there are growing concerns around its direct and indirect impacts on mental health. Particularly climate activists are at risk of experiencing increased mental health difficulties due to their closeness to the topic and emotional investment in catalysing change. Objective: The present study pursued an intuitive inquiry to explore how therapeutic practitioners can better support climate activists in their lived experience of eco-grief, and nurture individual and collective wellbeing. Methods: Eight participants (M=58.625) who facilitate wellbeing practices to support activists were invited to attend single semi-structured interviews. Findings: Participants introduced a range of supportive practices and outlined core conditions required to facilitate emotional processing and integration. These conditions addressed active acknowledgment, regenerative community building, self-care, honouring grief through compassion and ritual, language, safety, active hope, embodiment, and interconnectedness. Implications and limitations were discussed. The findings offer a more holistic engagement in activism and may provide guidance for the work of therapeutic practitioners and individuals working in climate science and ecological contexts. The results of this study may also offer insights for individuals outside of climate activism to support their emotional responses to climate breakdown and healthily adapting to cultivating greater ecological consciousness.

The purpose of this ethnographic study was to explore and understand the lived experiences and meaning-making processes of an online social media group called Frock Up Friday and the ritualistic act of ‘frocking up’ during Covid-19 and beyond by identifying cultural themes, how relationships were maintained, and wellbeing supported and if there are any significant impacts that may have taken place. Eleven participants were recruited, and semi-structured interviews were conducted. Participants were two transgender females, one male and eight females hailing from UK, USA and Spain and were aged between 45-71. Data was additionally triangulated from other various sources and analysed by using iterative inductive thematic analysis. Three themes emerged from the data, support, and social connection; growth and creativity; and finally, strangeness. It was found that the ritualistic practice of ‘frocking up’ and the sharing of selfies in their outfits on the site were found to be beneficial in creating a safe space during Covid for self-expression, creativity and self-confidence and was beneficial in increasing well-being overall and endorses a co-creative space towards healing.

Modern clinical trials suggest early evidence for the safety and efficacy of psychedelic assisted psychotherapy (PAP) in domains such as addictions, dysphoria related to life-threatening illnesses and depression. Research suggests that the mystical experience (ME) under psychedelics appears to play a key role in positive outcomes. With a growing evidence base, it is possible that PAP may be available in the National Health Service in the near future. As such, the current case study explored the following research question: What are the attitudes towards the potential therapeutic benefits and potential risks of the mystical experience in the context of psychedelic assisted psychotherapy amongst psychiatry trainees based in the West of Scotland? Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five junior psychiatry trainees. Through thematic analysis of interview material, supported by transpersonal research skills such as meditation, four main themes emerged: General Knowledge About the Mystical Experience; Openness to Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy; Implications for Psychiatry; and Concerns. The collective case summary suggests that the group were open to the introduction of PAP in psychiatry, despite concerns regarding potential risks. They also recognised the need for training in its delivery. There was a consensus that ME represents a neurochemical reaction and it was often compared to a psychotic episode. The findings were explored in relation to relevant literature regarding PAP and transpersonal aspects of the ME which may occur as a result. As PAP gains credibility a holistic approach integrating the understandings of modern psychiatry with transpersonal aspects may be of value.

Research shows cannabis can induce non-ordinary states of consciousness (NSC) similar to psychedelic experiences under appropriate conditions. However, this aspect of cannabis is not well recognized or studied. The present study aimed to understand how NSC induced by cannabis in therapeutic settings may contribute to the person’s healing process. These states are described as cannabis-induced holotropic states of consciousness (HSC) (i.e., states of consciousness with healing potentials). I interviewed six participants (four females and two males, aged 23-38) who experienced cannabis-induced HSC in sessions that followed a protocol that is similar to psychedelic-assisted therapy, which includes preparation, dosing and navigation, and integration. I analysed the data using a qualitative method, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, to understand how the participants experienced these sessions and how they contextualized the experience in their healing journey. The findings indicate that an appropriate set and setting with the agency (a unique quality of cannabis) can create a safe container for exploration. This allows the person to be present to and engage with direct experiences of various sensory, transpersonal and intrapersonal phenomena. These experiences inspire insights into oneself through new awareness, acknowledgement, and acceptance that allows the person to connect and to tend to themselves in a new way. The study also revealed that cannabis-induced HSC has qualities similar to psychedelic-assisted therapies, mindfulness and body-oriented trauma healing modalities. While further research is anticipated, this study explored participants’ accounts of cannabis-induced HSC and addressed its potential to support a person’s healing journey.

This multi-site case study explores the lived experience of nine evangelical ministers’ wives in their roles as spiritual leaders. Five major themes are uncovered: Faith as primary motivator; Freedom to choose their own path; the importance of Relationships; Service, or finding meaning in doing for others; and Coming Home to Self, which is the culmination of the self-actualisation processes for each participant. To better understand the underlying motivations for each woman’s leadership and Coming Home to Self, underlying value systems are explored using a modified version of the SVT Model of Relations among 10 Basic Values. Results indicate two distinct mythologies under which the participants have created their roles: Drawing In, which aims to bring others into alignment with their religious beliefs and subculture, and Reaching Out, which aims to understand the perspectives of others without a proselytising agenda. The two mythologies are each rooted in love, and though distinct from one another, they each have transpersonal self-actualising characteristics.

There is increasing evidence supporting the use of somatic approaches such as yoga and somatic experiencing to treat trauma. Other somatic modalities remain under researched, including the conscious dance practice 5Rhythms. The present study addressed this research gap by employing the method of interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore the lived experience of healing relational trauma through 5Rhythms in a sample of seven dancers. The research sought to answer the following question: How do people who have healed from relational trauma through the practice of 5Rhythms dance experience this healing? Participants expressed that healing was often slow and multifaceted and included interconnections between experiences on and off the dancefloor. It involved returning to their body and reconnection with their authentic self. Connecting with others facilitated healing and participants gave accounts of embodying many new ways of relating. A sense of safety supported vulnerability and the mind played some role, although this was often secondary to the body. These findings suggest that the experience of healing relational trauma through 5Rhythms is a multidimensional process embedded within a larger healing path. The results contribute to filling a gap in the literature into 5Rhythms as a somatic approach to trauma healing.

This research investigates the psycho-spiritual dynamics underlying pro-ecological behaviour. By employing the qualitative and transpersonal approach of Organic Inquiry, it explores the experiences of six individuals who are actively engaged in pro-ecological work. With a focus on understanding the psychological, emotional, and spiritual factors that influence actions, the research adopts a transpersonal ecopsychological perspective, relating the ecological crisis facing the planet to a crisis within the human psyche. Findings centre around the use of storytelling, combining a creative synthesis of the interviews with an imaginal narrative, alongside the analysis of the interviews. The emerging themes reflect a complex interplay of factors in pro-ecological behaviour, catalysed by critical thinking through an ecological lens. Grief and suffering are revealed as significant factors, but above all, it underscores the experiential hope embedded in the role of stewardship, suggesting that pro-ecological efforts can yield a new qualitative abundance. Transpersonal psychology, which challenges traditional notions of consciousness and mainstream psychology, proposes interconnectedness as a fundamental aspect of human experience. With an ecological lens, transpersonal psychology may play a unique role in shaping our future on Earth.

Purpose: Interest in the intersection of leadership and spirituality is growing. Whilst scholarly literature in this field has primarily focussed on ‘what’ business leaders can do to practically apply spirituality at work using spiritual intelligence (SQ), little research exists on ‘how’ leaders can be supported in their development of SQ through tailored coaching initiatives, such as transpersonal coaching (TPC). The purpose of this paper is to explore how transpersonal coaches can effectively help business leaders in their development of SQ. Design/methodology/approach: Spirituality, intelligence, SQ, and transpersonal coaching are discussed in the context of contemporary leadership development. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews with eight transpersonal coaches were conducted and analysed using grounded theory methodology. Findings: Different cognitive, emotional, and spiritual/experiential strategies are proposed which coaches can draw on to help leaders develop SQ and, as a result, inspire a transpersonal mindset shift, greater emotional integration, and more resourceful behaviour among executives. Originality/value: This study provides coaches, consultants, business leaders, and those charged with executive education with a foundational understanding of the role and development process of SQ for effectively leading oneself, others, and business through complex and uncertain times. A conceptual framework of the SQ development process is provided.

This phenomenological qualitative study investigated the lived experience of the participants unpacking their dreams and dreams of others in a group setting. None of the existing studies focus on the phenomenon of transformation for the individual group members. The aim of the present study was to understand the transformative potential of group dream work. The research question to be answered was: What is the transformative potential of unpacking a dream in a group setting? A new online dream group was formed with four participants who worked on their dreams together with me in six sessions. The Dream Tending method was applied as the underlying foundation for group dream work. Two semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant to understand the lived experience of working on their dreams and the dreams of others in the group. A multitude of detailed experiences were described by the participants. Four themes emerged after a transcendental phenomenological analysis was applied: a) gratitude, b) deep and meaningful experience, c) sense of oneness and interconnectedness, and d) transformation. Participants generally found the experience positive although a few negative experiences were observed. The conclusion made is that dream groups have the potential to contribute to the positive transformation of the individual group members.

This Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) study examines how films can cause viewers to have significant emotional, cognitive, and spiritual reactions by drawing on transpersonal psychology theories and methodology as well as pertinent material from film studies, Jungian psychology, and post-psychology. It looks into how the phenomenological experience of observing film tropes such as storylines, aesthetics, archetypal symbols, and transcendence themes, might influence changes in the manner in which its viewers may interpret their everyday reality. Five participants were asked to watch Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film, Inception, after which they participated in a 20-30 minute long interview. The study’s findings include a deeper comprehension of the transpersonal influences that films have on viewers’ consciousness as well as the recognition of crucial filmic components that support transformative experiences. This study also aims to contribute to the development of therapeutic strategies and transpersonally oriented film interventions that maximise the therapeutic and personal development potential of film. The significance towards understanding the transformational potential of film on an individual basis should not go unnoticed. All participants reported a degree to which the film impacted their concept of reality, either in the moment of immersion in the film, or in the time afterwards.

The present study explored the experience of surrender in living out a calling among Filipino Millennials. Using intuitive inquiry (ii) as the research method, it flowed through the five hermeneutical cycles that made use of imaginal dialogues, enabled an iterative unfolding of meaning units, and allowed the transformation of the lenses of the researcher. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six Filipino Millennials who were living out a calling. Nine themes emerged after conducting a thematic content analysis: understanding my calling; wholehearted commitment; continuous discernment; how calling is shaped; the call changes; faith and trust in God; happier and fulfilled; it takes a lot from you; and control led to my burnout. These themes transformed the preliminary lenses and added new ones. Surrender emerged as an inevitable part of living out a calling as it promotes alignment of the true self with a higher power and other-oriented purpose. The willingness to relinquish control and be part of the grander flow of life runs counter in a society predisposed to independence and self-sufficiency. Since calling was found to evolve through time, the practice of surrender requires continuous discernment. The strengths, limitations, and directions for future research were also discussed.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) have received significant attention, yet limited research has focused specifically on encounters with living individuals during these experiences and their psychological implications. This qualitative phenomenological study aims to explore the experiences of encounters with living beings during NDEs from the perspectives of both the near-death experiencer (NDEr) and the living individuals encountered, highlighting the distinctive features of this NDE subtype. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews, eight participants provided subjective and occasionally intersubjective accounts, providing insights into these encounters and their transformative effects. Encounters between NDErs and living individuals during an NDE are complex and multifaceted, involving unexpected thrusts into the encounter for NDErs and interpretations that appear to be shaped by pre-existing spiritual or religious beliefs for the encountered individuals. These encounters give rise to extraordinary phenomena, such as the sense of empathic connections and out-of-body experiences. They additionally involve distinctive features that go beyond the typical characteristics of NDEs, including the formation of transpersonal bonds, a sense of liberation from perceived victimhood, and a newfound belief in multidimensional consciousness. Participants experienced personal growth, and re-evaluation of values, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of self and the reconstruction of life’s meaning. Sharing and integrating these experiences presented social and cultural challenges unless they were intersubjective experiences which appeared to facilitate a smoother integration into the social fabric. This study emphasises the need for further research to understand these experiences and their broader significance within near-death phenomena.

This research provides an in-depth exploration into the personal self-care practices and psychospiritual hygiene of volunteers in the field of psychedelic peer support/harm reduction (PPS/HR). Utilising Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), the study investigated the experiences and challenges faced by seven diverse volunteers, each with a minimum of two years of experience in PPS/HR. Key findings encompassed five Group Experiential Themes (GETs), detailing the external and internal challenges associated with PPS/HR, inner resourcing factors, and general as well as session-specific self-care practices. The study provided crucial insights into the physical safety concerns, session-related anxiety, and the personal significance volunteers find in their roles. Emphasising the necessity for comprehensive volunteer support strategies, the research underscored the importance of ensuring adequate staffing, facilitating regular breaks, providing sufficient medical support, and the vital role of community and debriefing in supporting volunteers during and post-shift. As the field of psychedelic care continues to evolve, the study’s findings suggest the need to incorporate these experiences to enhance psychospiritual wellbeing in the field of PPS/HR, and crisis-line services more broadly, potentially leading to better strategies to mitigate risks of compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatisation and promoting compassion satisfaction and vicarious resilience in this demanding yet rewarding field.

Inflammatory bowel disease is broadly defined as chronic and relapsing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Physical symptoms include but are not limited to abdominal pain, bloody and loose stool, urgency, nausea and vomiting; all ranging from mild to an acute presentation. Due to the increasing prevalence of IBD, in Australia and across the globe, the physical indicators of the disease are extensively researched; and in the absence of a permanent cure, many clinical trials and treatments are available. However, what is lacking in the literature, research and treatments pertaining to IBD, is the consideration of the whole-person wellbeing experience of people with IBD. In this study, wellbeing is considered to be the balance between an individual’s physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual resources and challenges. Consequently, through a transpersonal lens case study, this paper inductively explores how wellbeing is perceived and experienced by six adult Australians with IBD. Here, the transpersonal lens is understood as the whole-person, multi-disciplinary and transformative inquiry into human existence, in connection with this world, its beings and the transcendent. Through meditation, thematic analysis of the interviews, and reflection, the following seven themes emerged: connection with others, growth and development, limitations, self, shame and guilt, treatment and action, and uncertainty. In the review and discussion of said themes, what comes to light is the essentiality of considering the whole-person within any future studies and treatments of IBD. With that in mind, the active inclusion of transpersonal therapy, in partnership with medical treatment, is put forth and explained as a step in the right direction.

This qualitative study investigates shamanistic aspects in rock performance and relative contributing factors, through the stories of four women who sing and play in rock bands. Elements in their performance are analysed through a Narrative and Organic Inquiry, which emphasize the voice of participants and researcher in the development of major themes. Some rock stars are recipients of religious-like adoration, and the parallel between shaman and rock-star has been previously explored. However, literature on the topic is limited, and lacking in perspective of performers and particularly women’s performance. The study found that the participants can experience intense spiritual and transcendent moments during their concerts, that present similarities to the shaman’s activity. These included entering an altered state of consciousness, empowerment, adopting ritualistic aspects in performance, including embodiment of a stage-persona, and a degree of service and energy exchange with the public. Whilst the performers may not be considered as shamans, due to substantial differences in experiences, ontology, and cultural context, they can be seen as shaman-like figures. The richness and intensity of their experience is found to be empowering and enriching to them and potentially the audience.

This research aimed to better understand the lived experience of those who have participated in psychedelic experiences, and inquire on how they have integrated that experience into everyday life. This study uses a qualitative transpersonal research method called intuitive inquiry, a unique methodology in that the researcher is able to draw on both intellect and intuition while moving through a 5 cycle hermeneutical process. The main focus of interest was the practices that nine participants developed or are still developing during their integration phase, and who is supports their journey. Further insights were brought forward into the underdeveloped understanding of psychedelic integration in non-clinical settings. Non-clinical include ayahuasca/mushrooms ceremonies, transformational/music festivals, curious participants experiencing psychedelics in their homes, and/or underground psychedelic-assisted therapies. The goal of integration is to merge the psychedelic experience with a person’s daily life in a way that helps them live a fuller life with less distress, and to maximize benefits while minimizing harms in an integral lifestyle context. As non-clinical psychedelic use increases and psychedelic-assisted therapy gains mainstream acceptance, it is critical that in order to maximize integration, an individual should have a myriad of practices that touch on physical, mental, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual domains. This process should also be supported by a transpersonal support system helping facilitate an integration lifestyle.

The World Health Organization reports that of the one million annual deaths by suicide, 75% are men. The disproportionate number of men’s suicides are linked to male gender socialisation making it difficult for men to experience, reveal and express vulnerable emotions. Research of emotional experience is often approached from a cognicentric framework and there is a paucity of transpersonal perspectives exploring emotion from somatic-centred experience. My dissertation explores how men described the effects of somatic awareness (through Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga) of their experience of emotions informed by participatory theory. A narrative enquiry method was employed to capture the full complexity of the men’s lived experience and enrich the data beyond limitations of ‘expression’ meaning verbal articulation of emotional vocabulary. Results revealed an overarching theme in the men’s narratives of Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga as an accessible mediator to engage with emotions in men’s narratives. Men experienced concealing vulnerable emotional experiences from others and had experiences of emotional isolation in shared spaces with other men. They reported their practice of Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga had a positive transformative impact on their experience of emotions as their body and emotions revealed intuitive sources of wisdom. My findings indicate the importance of finding practices and contexts for men to experience their emotions without gender socialisation inhibitions. These findings also offer new insight that may contribute to further research into alternative participatory approaches to expression of emotion beyond verbal articulation.

Vajrayana Buddhism is considered the third turning of the Dharma Wheel, that incorporates a more dynamic range of practices including deity and mantra work. Quantitative and qualitative research has looked at the key differences between Vajrayana and other Buddhist approaches in terms of specific forms of meditational techniques, but there is a lack of research into the lived experiences of following a Vajrayana path. Six participants were interviewed who were living at Clear Sky Meditation Center, a conscious community that aims to follow a traditional Vajrayana approach whilst working within the modern world. An Interpretive phenomenological analysis approach was used to delve into the lived experience of the individuals experience of spiritual development whilst following a Vajrayana path of practice. Five superordinate (major themes) emerged from the data analysis alongside subordinate (minor) themes within them; 1 beyond the self, 2 pain as an integral part of spiritual development, 3 the relational aspect of spiritual development, 4 sangha as amplifier/verifier/safeguard/caregiver and the 5 importance of a dynamic practice. The findings overall suggest that spiritual development involves radical changes of selfhood from a rigid and constricted sticky self towards an expansive lighter and brighter being, that is aided through having repeated exposures with transpersonal states such as emptiness alongside a quenching of inner dialogue. Pain was reported as a reoccurring experience that is intertwined with significant spiritual development. The importance of a teacher and spiritual community were discussed, alongside the relational aspect of spiritual development that can be aided through interpersonal shadow work.

The aim of this study was to explore the different meanings that the nine enneagram types give to five different transpersonal concepts. Using a grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2016), focus groups were conducted to research the meanings that each type gives to the concepts of heaven, bliss, love, heart, and God. The findings showed that, while each type defined each concept differently, yet an overarching core meaning to each of these five transpersonal concepts could be identified. The study also provided clearly different interpretations to each of the concepts for each of the nine types, showing how the types have different worldviews and different interpretations of the transpersonal concepts. In addition, a common link between the five concepts was also identified from the results, showing how these concepts relate to each other. The results of the study show how transpersonal concepts can have different meanings for individuals of different Enneagram types, and how behind these different meanings there is a common core meaning that all types are referring to.

Leading voices in transpersonal psychology urge more attention for practices oriented to environmental action. However, women’s bodies have been neglected as a focus of research, despite the fact that mothers are our first environment. This Organic Inquiry explored transpersonal aspects of breastfeeding, as this practice has been acknowledged to considerably contribute to climate change mitigation, and it is linked not just to physical, but also to emotional wellbeing of women, children, and nations. The initial research question, how might breastfeeding activate a mother’s transpersonal qualities, helped the author explore transpersonal benefits of breastfeeding, and their role in participants’ success overcoming the patriarchal structures that control this practice. The study focuses on the experience of breastfeeding advocates as this demographic is exceptionally successful at surmounting social barriers, and remarkably achieves their breastfeeding goals, which have been recognized as optimal by the W.H.O. Twelve participants reported that transpersonal qualities like transpersonal self-concept, spiritual insights, interconnectedness, discernment, alignment with nature and transformative changes might have been activated or enhanced as a result of their breastfeeding experience. This study suggests that participants felt empowered by a spontaneous alignment of body, mind and Spirit which translated into compassionate action and social transformation.

Mystical experiences (ME) are a special type of altered state of consciousness most commonly associated with spiritual practices and psycho-active substances. While research investigating non-psychoactive engendered ME (NPME) is scant, there is a plethora of literature emerging from psychopharmacological experiments reporting the therapeutic benefits of ME engendered with psychoactive agents (PME). Within the latter the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ43) has been developed and refined to the most recent version, the MEQ30. This instrument is now being used to measure NPME. The present study investigated the appropriateness of the MEQ30 for measuring NPME. Participants (N = 136) completed an online survey about their experience which included the MEQ43 and its subset of items that make up the MEQ30. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed that the factor structure of the MEQ30 was not a good fit for NPME. Further exploratory factor analysis of the MEQ43 suggested that an alternative set of items and corresponding factors could be more appropriate. The newly proposed scale, the MEQ25, retains 25 items from the MEQ43 and has four underlying factors that account for all of the MEQ43 factors. The MEQ25 factors are Sacred Unity, Noetic Quality, Time Space Transcendence and, Ineffable and Paradoxical. The new scale is unique in that it has a separate factor for noetic quality which is considered a salient aspect of ME. The MEQ25 demonstrated excellent internal reliability (α = .93) and, significant strong external validity. Further confirmatory factor analysis is need to support these preliminary findings.

This phenomenological study is set out to find common healing experiences among the practitioners of Shibari, also referred to as Kinbaku or Japanese rope bondage. Within a framework of 10 semi-structured interviews, the study focuses on real examples of individual experiences in Japanese rope bondage that have brought about transformation and healing for the practitioners. The following transpersonal topics surfaced dominantly throughout the interviews in reference to healing: transformations, catharsis, embodiment, altered states of consciousness, exceptional experiences, life changing shifts. The regular practice of Shibari appears to have an overall positive impact on people ́s lives and their personal development. This study attempts to find the essence of healing experiences in Shibari within the given interviews, discuss the relevant findings, and suggests further research topics. The study contributes to a growing field of transpersonal psychologists and BDSM enthusiasts and promotes a more expansive way to look at these experiences as a way of healing and transforming towards wholeness and awareness within the practice and beyond.

This study explores the experiences of the bereaved who searched for meaning in their loss through a mediumistic communication, and examines the influence of transliminal myth on the bereavement experience. This was a qualitative study utilizing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The seven participants purposively selected had been bereaved for a minimum of ten years and had sought the services of a medium after losing a loved one. They were interviewed online using a semi-structured interview schedule and recordings were transcribed and analysed. Four primary themes emerged in the findings: the nature of the grief experience; beliefs regarding reunification and afterlife connections; transformative influences of the mediumistic communication; and the relevance of transliminal myth to the bereavement process. The results show that those who have lost loved ones suffer a depth of emotional upheaval that can result in long periods of despair, physical pain, and loss of identity. All expressed that the mediumistic communication was a significant step in their healing journey through grief. Some expressed relief at knowing their deceased loved ones were safe, and all found the experience transformational in some way. Participants’ choices of myth were based predominantly on their emotional affinity with the characters in the story and identification with the circumstances and setting of the narrative. More research is warranted to thoroughly investigate the therapeutic relevance of transliminal myth to the grief experience, and its application in transpersonal therapy and clinical practice.

This dissertation consists of a phenomenological study of an exploratory nature within the niche of archetypal cosmology, a novel discipline that employs the ancient art of astrology and connects it with modern transpersonal and depth psychology. This research study endeavours on the one hand to investigate the holistic and embodied experience of the Uranus opposition transit as it is recollected by individuals who have already experienced it and, on the other hand, it explores whether astrology proves to be a useful and valuable tool in the decision-making process of individuals and in the way they attribute and create meaning for their lives.A purposive sample of seven participants has been selected and qualitative data has been gathered through interviews based on semi-structured questionnaires. Results show that participants underwent significant shifts in their lives reflecting moments of sudden and unexpected change, emotional turmoil, as well as an expansion into a newer, larger version of themselves, confirming the general themes highlighted in the relevant literature. In addition, participants did not actively use astrology to navigate the period of their Uranus opposition transit, but all agreed that, when used retrospectively, astrology is a valuable and powerful tool of self-reflection allowing to create deeper meaning when looking back at one’s life. Therefore, this study not only gives a contribution when it comes to developing a deeper understanding of the different facets and themes involved in the Uranus opposition transit, but also opens avenues for further research in the use of astrology as an instrument for psychological self-reflection, creation of meaning, and growth.

The human relationship with honeybees has existed for at least ten thousand years, as evidenced by cave paintings in Spain. It seems as if the evolution and fate of our two species is interwoven, a view offered by such visionaries as Rudolph Steiner (1923). I embarked on an organic research project to investigate the nature of this relationship through the lens of transpersonal psychology. A group of five apiculturists and one practitioner of bee shamanism shared their stories about their relationships with honeybees. The emergent thematic patterns from these conversations merged with insights from the liminal realm cultivated by the methodology of an organic enquiry, resulting in rich individual vignettes, composite depictions and a final creative synthesis. The experiences of the participants revealed the way in which we project much of ourselves onto another species and romanticise the nature of the relationship to validate our use of them for our own ends. The organic qualities of the unfolding inquiry meant that certain meanings were shaped by a transpersonal intelligence, emphasising trends in our behaviour such as sensual greed and anthropomorphic fascination. Following several months of intensive research, I came to conclude that if we are able to transform our consumer desires and tendency to possess what we idolise, we may find the true gift in our relationship to honeybees: not the physical products of the hive, but the means to shift into an elevated and more connected state of consciousness in their presence.

This qualitative study explores the relationship between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and depth and transpersonal psychology methods. My aim in this research was to understand how these methods affect the lived experience of individuals with ADHD. I chose a heuristic inquiry approach to delve into the experiences and transformation of five participants, who, per the heuristic inquiry protocol, I refer to as co-researchers (Sultan, 2019). Thematic analysis of interviews and shared artifacts illuminated six core themes which are presented in the results section through individual and composite explication and a creative synthesis. All co-researchers collectively experienced a connection to the body, external manifestations of change, inner self-transformation, living in a new relationship with dis-ease, mindfulness, and states of transcendence. The discussion builds on existing research and offers insights gained from the findings as well as discusses limitations of the study and future directions in research. The results suggest that depth and transpersonal methods foster a compassionate and aware self-belief system and offer holistic, strength-based support to individuals who are diagnosed or self-identify with ADHD.

Pilgrimage, one type of long-distance walking, has long been associated with transformation. Despite the growing number of female pilgrims and anecdotal evidence, little research has been directed toward understanding their experience. The aim of the current study is to examine the solo female travelers’ experience of transformation associated with walking the Camino de Santiago. The research project makes use of the qualitative method of heuristic inquiry which is known for its autobiographical, embodied, and holistic approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven co-researchers. Five of them contributed additional material such as poems, blog posts, and journal entries. The findings suggest that the participants became more authentic, connected deeply with others and nature, and discovered a new appreciation for their bodies. They reported implementing various lifestyle changes upon return and spoke about wanting to be of service and make a difference in the world. Although they all experienced moments of profound realization along the way, the co-researchers acknowledged that transformation is an ongoing process. After discussing the findings in relation to previous literature, the study concludes by recommending pilgrimage as an antidote to the epidemic of busyness, materialism, and alienation from self, others, and nature. Limitations are discussed and future research suggestions, including the investigation into whether going on a pilgrimage periodically fosters the transformative process, are made.

This Organic Inquiry aims to understand the lived experiences of five Gen Z Elders, who turned eighteen during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As part of the inquiry, a series of workshops were co-created using mask making, ritual, creativity, and storytelling. Analysis of interview transcripts uncovered how the Pandemic created feelings of abandonment, mental health challenges, and a surreal presence of time. At the end of the project, I discovered my chosen research method to be a suitable model in supporting the storytelling process, with each co-researcher participating in activities to access liminal spaces through creative channels. Masks were chosen as suitable vehicles considering the dominant presence of face masks during the Pandemic, and archetypes were used to personify the Pandemic and to explore rite of passage into adulthood. Stories were recollected and reframed through revisiting, and the importance of a story spiral became evident. This raised the question of the role storytelling can play as a form of rite of passage for a generation, who became adults in isolation, fending for themselves and feeling unprepared for the challenges ahead. The final creative synthesis honored the collective through a collage, and each individual story was captured in the form of an imaginal quest based on the experiential activities the co-researchers participated in.

This research explored the question: what are the transpersonal effects of intentional, guided, light-deprivation (darkness) over an extended period of time on the conscious self? This, explored through the lens of the author and as experienced by the study participants, all of whom attended the same darkness workshop held by the Sacred Trust in 2019. The research reflects my own interest in darkness and explored how sighted-individuals reacted and interacted when placed in an unknown, unfamiliar environment without external vision – and how this disruption in normal reality served as a catalyst for personal growth. The research itself is a qualitative, cross-sectional analysis using Evocative Autoethnography (Bochner & Ellis, 2016), that seeks to delve into and express deeply the human experience of a transformative process, expressed through storytelling. The research follows five participants from their arrival, to their lived experiences and the contributing factors thereof and through to their evolution and incorporation of those unique experiences to the present day, covering a span of three years. The individuals, 3 males and 2 females, ranging in ages from 45-65, come from all walks of life and various occupations, and live spread across four countries, on two continents. The overall product in addition to this dissertation is an Evocative Autoethnographic narrative, a non-chronological composite story, with the intent to evoke a thought-provoking emotional response from the reader. The framework of the narrative is based on the common themes found across the participant interviews and using specific quotes taken directly from the participant interviews. his narrative covers the importance of the container of the experience; the role of belief systems; altered states of consciousness as a catalyst of understanding, consciousness expansion and personal growth; deep self-reflection of one’s own attitudes and motivations (fear vs. acceptance); and the sometimes-profound iterative integration of insights gleaned into daily the participant’s daily life (confirmation, separation, changing careers).

This dissertation describes a research process designed to explore the lived experience of four Israelis and three Palestinians who participated in and facilitated peacebuilding initiatives embedded in transpersonal approaches. In parallel I personally participated in three transpersonal peacebuilding events at which the processes and dynamics of such encounters could be observed. Only a limited number of studies have examined Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilding projects rooted in the transpersonal, however they do not identify the transpersonal as an overall descriptor. This research project transcends the singular by assembling transpersonal peacebuilding approaches under one roof and exploring the transpersonal container in which these approaches are held. The Constructivist Grounded Theory was chosen as the conceptual analytical framework for this research project as it links macroscopic issues to the phenomenon under investigation, meaning that broader contextual matters like the Israeli and Palestinian conflict are given appropriate recognition in the development of theory. Furthermore, I resonate with the constructivist paradigm as it assumes that the researcher is an active agent in the construction process, which is congruent with the research project’s aim. The beginning of a framework has emerged from the data that centres around how opposing narratives between Israelis and Palestinians can be exposed and contained during these peacebuilding events. For relational transformation to be experienced, both people need to (re)humanize each other. This was attained through a variety of integrative methods, including working with symbols and embodiment methods for the potential activation of transformational purposes.

This study examines the personal and professional experiences of mediums who partake in an intuitive community of shared integrative transpersonal practices. The aim was to understand participants’ perceived experiences regarding the influence of community involvement on their faculties of intuition, psychism, and mediumship, as well as on their mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing. A qualitative research design (IPA) was used. Using purposive sampling, six participants were selected from the larger online Sophia community. A third-party interviewer used a semi-structured interview guide to gather participants’ reflections of consistent involvement in Sophia over a one-year period. The results clearly indicated that, prior to attending Sophia, participants were frustrated with the dearth of professional and personal support and systematic mediumistic education. They strongly voiced their support for a community that addressed the components of esoteric history, critical thinking, skill development, current knowledge and research, and the opportunity to be “visible” with others sharing intuitive faculties. The results highlighted the need for the continued holistic development of the medium to further the wellbeing of the mediums themselves, and to raise the standard of mediumistic service for the public. It appears that there is relevance of the format of this holistic model to participant satisfaction and their reported changes, not only to those working in the intuitive professions, but to other organizations looking for pragmatic avenues of transpersonal evolution.

Embodied Spiritual Inquiry (ESI) is a participatory approach to transpersonal learning, developed by Jorge N. Ferrer, proposing the integration of the multiple ways of knowing of our physical, somatic, vital, emotional, mental and spiritual attributes into research. Published studies highlight the theoretical framework of the method while the focus of this study is the dynamics of the experience and its potential transformative value for inquirers. Through six months of phenomenological research in applying the analytical procedure of Colaizzi (1978) seven individuals were interviewed providing for video, written and artistic data. Eight main themes emerged, four of which textural: transpersonal experiences (collective field; subtle communication; vivid dreams; shadow integration; enhanced states of awareness); intimacy; transformation in everyday life; serendipity, and four structural: inquiry container; inquiry tool; collaboration; enhancement of other practices. Investigation results present participant experiences in regard to intrapersonal, interpersonal and transpersonal dynamics, suggesting that ESI may provide for evolutionary means of research in educational settings, supportive of surprising and comprehensive results as well as the potential for individual and academic growth for students. Though this study also presents some limitations, it may generate curiosity and encourage further research with the method as well as inspire ESI studies in educational settings and beyond, highlighting the potential implications of transpersonal research for the field of psychology and society.

At the intersection of expressive arts and spiritual experience lies a journey made by many peoples and cultures throughout time. Using Heuristic Inquiry, this paper explores this intersection by asking the question, “What is the embodied spiritual experience of expressive arts?” With a group of eight co-researchers, concepts such as: liminality; co-creating reality; exploring the intersection of expressive arts and spiritual experience; breaking through blocks are explored. An outcome during this exploration has been how the co-researchers’ collective experiences could be categorized as a “shamanic journey,” made popularly known by anthropologist Michael Harner. A more surprising theme has been the “Monomyth” as conceived by comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell. This paper attempts to map spiritual experiences onto the Monomyth through collective experience. Through this exploration, perhaps not only are we capable of reconnecting to our primordial selves by using a shamanistic framework, but we may become the heroes of our own spiritual journeys by using the Monomyth as a roadmap.

This study examines what brings highly educated, global citizens to seek earth-wisdom teachings. To derive at this answer organic inquiry is used as a methodology, appropriate to examine psycho-spiritual growth. The methodology is suitable for uncovering subtleties and mundane spiritual experiences using the researcher as instrument in the research and inviting also the co-researchers to access liminal or unseen realities to remember deeper experiences, small or large, as well as transpersonal signals. Six co-researchers were invited to share their story after being guided through an intentional breathing exercise helping them bring back memories. Follow up questions around the co-researchers prior psychological and spiritual experienced were added. The co-researchers were also asked to bring a special item that reminded them of the tradition. Ten themes were derived from the study, which has been distilled into two main reasons why people join descending earth-wisdom teaching; a desire to “integration earth-wisdom philosophies into all aspects of life” with “self-authorship” at the core. Secondly, the research suggests that it is the co-researchers lived experiences, or the e-motions attached to the experience, be it positive or negative, that move them towards a spiritual tradition, while transpersonal signals are crucial in making the actual decision. Further research into a larger sample would be needed, to detect if such patterns are more widely spread. Additional research into the specific tradition, which the co-researchers have joined, called the Origin of the Delicate Lodge Teachings, may also add to transpersonal research within the areas of earth-wisdom teachings.

This creative, depth psychological intuitive inquiry explored the transformative effects of the creation of artworks in the context of bereavement and loss. In doing so it attempts to investigate and address a gap in art-therapy literature, namely the underreporting of theoretical models, and lack of operationalisation of interventions, in the context of bereavement. Four semi-structured interviews were conducted with artists who had experienced a bereavement or loss and used artmaking as part of their healing process, and the researcher’s own bereavement experience was additionally included in the data. Thematic content analysis was used to code the data, and the research process was informed and shaped by intuitive practices, including the cultivation of symbolic images, imaginal dialogues and empathic identification with these images, and the processes of their creation. The twelve themes that emerged from the data were: having always made art, artmaking as obsessive, emotional processing, the creation of a separate physical space, entering a distinct psychological state, the emergence and overcoming of ego wounds, feeling grounded in the self, connecting to others, continuing bonds, processing transpersonal experiences, and creativity as a reusable resource. The research concluded by interweaving findings with transpersonal lenses and suggesting transpersonal theories could serve to underpin art-therapy practice and form the basis for the operationalisation of art-therapy interventions.

The aim of this study was to explore the lived experience of individuals using creative expression as a way of documenting or processing experiences that occur beyond the threshold of ordinary consciousness. Integral Inquiry (Braud, 2011) was used in connection with Narrative Inquiry (Kim, 2016) and Arts-based Methods (Leavy, 2015) to investigate the connection between transliminal art, boundaries, and heightened perception. A holistic, multi-modal approach was used during data collection and analysis. A purposive sampling strategy focused recruitment on individuals who had created a piece of art based on a nonordinary state of consciousness, or who had an unusual experience related to a piece of art. Twenty five participants shared their stories and experiences in an online survey, and were subsequently invited to send a digital copy of their artwork. Ten of these individuals were interviewed on Zoom. All data were collated, analysed, re-storied and validated by participants. Themes were then identified across cases. Throughout the process, the focus was on an inclusive approach using multiple ways of knowing including analytical and intuitive, embodied and cognitive, as well as ordinary and nonordinary states of consciousness. Results showed that although the artwork was often created in challenging circumstances, a co-creative process emerged with participants often feeling a connection to a transpersonal source. Creative practice provided a pathway for self-expression that was not always possible in everyday life. As the participants were from a Western background, the findings are culture-specific. Although the intention of this study was to focus on lived experience, integrating a validated scale of measurement may have substantiated the findings. In addition to implications for wellbeing, the participants’ stories support the perspective of post-materialist science and may indicate innate human potential to access non-physical information.

Scientific leadership in mainstream academic circles plays a crucial role in the scientific advancement, yet it seems to be in crisis. Therefore, this study aimed to explore and understand how scientific leaders, who hold a transpersonal perspective (i.e., post-materialist, spiritual, contemplative…), approach leadership, interpersonal and team dynamics, and the challenges they cope with in their daily lives. The main research question was: What are the values, attitudes, and practices of scientific leaders who hold a transpersonal perspective, and how is this perspective informing their leadership style? Constructivist grounded theory by Charmaz (2006, 2014) was used to analyze 6 semi-structured interviews with scientific leaders holding a transpersonal perspective. Findings suggested that main themes fell into 4 areas of participants life: Person, Role (as a Leader), Environment and Transpersonal Approach. Six major themes or categories emerged within those areas: Never aspiring to be a leader and not identifying as one; Prioritizing caring relations, Choosing distinct personality traits in new students/team-members (over intellectual capacity); Ensuring wellbeing of individuals as well as collective; Pervasive egoism in academic circles; and Spiritual practice positively affecting leadership. Findings suggested that transpersonal inspiration served as a guiding light for the values, attitudes and practices of participants in this study. The hope for this study is to fill the existing gap in the literature, since there is a lack of empirical studies looking at the real-life experience of leaders inspired by a transpersonal perspective and possibly enable future comparisons with the mainstream scientific leadership currently predominating in our academic institutions.

Research suggests that synchronicity as a participatory experience requires further study in order to explore the transpersonal aspect rather than the psychological aspect of synchronistic experiences. This study is one of very few qualitative studies on synchronicity, and the focus is on the experience of synchronicity by channelers of ‘Universal Consciousness’. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a total of seven Omani channelers who completed the 9-day level one retreat at Dira International in Oman, whose age ranged from 37 to 46. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyze data. Participant descriptions of synchronicity yielded a range of themes that displayed both positive and negative associations with synchronicity. Findings revealed that channelers of ‘Universal Consciousness’ have a wide range of personal and collective experiences of synchronicity, with a wide range of personal and collective impact. Results also showed that channelers tend to associate synchronicity with the self, the world, intuition, and channeling. Possible explanations for findings are discussed, including the strengths, limitations, and implications of this study. Recommendations for further research are outlined.

This intuitive inquiry explored the lived experience of the Fierce Feminine in the lives of women. Drawing on both intellect and intuition, this study aimed to answer the following questions: 1) What does it take to reclaim the Fierce Feminine? 2) What is the nature of the Fierce Feminine? 3) What are the effects and consequences of living the Fierce Feminine today? The six semi-structured interviews were analyzed using thematic content analysis as outlined by Anderson (2004). The findings indicate that the journey to reclaim the Fierce Feminine requires a descent into the underworld to meet the Dark Goddess within and shed the layers of the upper world, good-girl persona which nearly all women adopt as a means to make it in a man’s world. The Fierce Feminine expresses itself in the embodiment of four distinct archetypes: a) the seer, b) the warrioress, c) the sexual priestess and d) the mystic. The consequences of living the Fierce Feminine entail both blessings and challenges. The blessings include genuine self-love, creative flow, power and a sense of aliveness and fulfillment; for the world, the potential of transformation. The challenges include the loss of belonging and social approval, depression and loneliness.

Can prayer offer a tool to enhance life-circumstances? One assumption about prayer is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This paper investigates prayer practice and its effects and potentials for transpersonal states of consciousness, embodiment and transformation of inner feeling-states. An experiential study on self-created heartfelt embodied (SCHE) prayer was conceptualized and conducted with eight research participants over the course of six weeks during the uncertain times of COVID-19. SCHE prayer is a prayer practice designed to be used as a creative psychological tool and access point to transpersonal experience. Participants were provided with optional guideline materials and two group prayer webinars. They documented their experiences through 1) a preparation and response prayer workbook and 2) two open-ended questionnaires. The present study falls into the field of qualitative research and applies a heuristic inquiry methodology. This method provides a loose creative framework beneficial for investigation of unexplored territory. Gained insights along with a descriptive analysis and various representations of data are presented. Contemporary evidence-based studies are used to examine and compare results. With this pilot study, the researcher aimed to understand the effects of SCHE prayer with regards to spiritual and psychological well-being, on both personal and collective levels.

Autism is on the rise globally. The lived experiences of South African mothers from a stable socio-economic household whose children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder were explored using a narrative methodology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five purposely sampled mothers. Past medical reports, and case histories were incorporated co-construct chronological personal life stories. These were analysed thematically and arranged into three overarching categories: educational and financial impacts, emotional and coping responses, and spirituality and transformation. Results indicated that mothers shared common experiences and emotional discomfort. Limited educational choices impacted mothers’ stress levels and quality of life negatively despite financial resources affording access to private therapies and schools. Mothers utilised varying bio-psycho-social-spiritual coping strategies to embarked in an ongoing process of adaptation. Over time they revised their world view and their belief systems, including transpersonal elements of gratitude, acceptance, and spirituality. Increased educational and therapeutic resources for children regardless of socio-economic standing is indicated. Parent-centered and integrated support systems that focus on the psychology of transformation are further indicated.

The aim of this study is to explore individuals living experiences in nature using Moustakas’ qualitative method of Heuristic inquiry. One-on-one interviews were conducted with six co-researchers between the ages of 29–59, lasting between 75–105 minutes, from which several shared themes emerged. Co-researchers revealed how personal difficulties in their lives gave rise to a desire to go into nature to find healing. Nature was deemed to be non-judgemental and provide space for feelings to surface, be acknowledged and integrated, creating the possibility for healing and spiritual growth. Nature was perceived as healer and teacher, providing the opportunity to discover a sense of oneness and connection with nature and the self. This also promoted some degree of altruism and an increase in the intrinsic aspirations of the co-researchers. There is a consensus regarding the limitation of language in verbalising nature and the transformational experience. Understanding the dichotomy of human and nature as separate appears to be a key step in the journey, resulting in the realisation of our commonality and connection. Results indicate that human-nature connection is intrinsic in human beings and this research illustrates the potential psychological, physiological, physical, and spiritual benefits to our wellbeing.

There is increasing evidence that unresolved father-daughter relationships are impacting subsequent relationships of the daughter in adulthood. This interpretational phenomenological study addresses the early ‘lived experiences of the daughter and explores their influence on her through the lens of her intimate partnerships. This study evaluates six accomplished women who have established independence and success in their careers in yoga and the wellness and/or healing industries. They have been specifically selected as an archetypal group of women, which illustrate some of the common challenges of the daughter-father relationship. From these early life impressions, commonalities and meanings can be linked to their romantic partnerships. Participants are aged between 32 and 61, and are from multicultural backgrounds; English, Chinese, Italian, French, American and Swiss. The interviews were all conducted online and transcribed using an interpretative phenomenological research approach (IPA), as outlined by John Smith, (Smith, Flowers, Larkin, 2009) and by (Moustakas, 1994). The research data produced five central father themes and five relational adult couple themes. The father themes were; 1) Father Poor Boundaries 2) Father Objectification 3) Father Betrayal & Infidelity 4) Father Abandonment 5) Father Over-Closeness. The five relational themes were 1) Relationship Betrayal or Infidelity 2) Relational Power/Control 3) Relational Withdrawal 4) Relational Copying 5) Relational Attachment. As part of linking a daughter’s ‘lived’ father experiences to patterns in her intimate partnerships, we can develop greater awareness as to what daughter-father phenomenon support and distort her ability to go on and develop healthy coupled relationships in adult life. Furthermore, by comparing early daughter experiences of the father, the possibility of developing greater insight as to how seeded archetypal personality structures can be recognised and understood and then resolved within a therapeutic or transformation process.

Most psychological research into yoga in jails examines emotional and behavioural outcomes of the practice for inmates, but there has been scant investigation into how yoga teachers experience teaching this population. Likewise, contemporary Western yoga research has focused on exploring the physical, mental and emotional benefits of postural yoga and meditation, while it has neglected exploring the self-healing potential of Karma yoga (selfless service). Although there is a flourishing global community of yoga practitioners teaching yoga in jails as part of their commitment to selfless service, there is little or no research into how this practice might facilitate self-healing for those who engage in it. This intuitive inquiry seeks to address this problem by asking how teaching yoga in jails may contribute to self-healing for women yoga teachers. A purposive sample of seven women who teach yoga in jails was developed, and semi-structured interviews employed to gather data from the women. Chaos, calling, place of suffering, revealing, sharing, magic, resilience, and authenticity, emerged as final themes from the data, echoing episodes of classical myths of individuation, constellating into five archetypal stages of self-healing: separation, initiation, purification, expansion, and integration. A key finding was that teaching yoga in jails enabled participants to recover and re-integrate projected elements of their wounded selves as they deepened their embodiment, and attuned empathically and somatically with inmates. The research concludes by suggesting that more research is needed into how practicing Karma yoga in contained environments with symbolically significant others could provide opportunities for all involved to expand their sense of self beyond dualistic notions of victim-victimiser, student-teacher, and saviour-saved.

This case study is a transpersonal exploration of a senior business leader’s transformative journey and how his organization was affected. An in-depth understanding was formulated through multiple data sources. Three semi-structured interviews were conducted, and documents from the organization, which included associate surveys, business presentations and reports, office images and leadership meetings’ photo-protocols, were analysed and integrated. Six key themes emerged from data analysis: preparation, the leaders’ journey of dissolution, the organization’s soul encounter, metamorphosis, enactment and actualized senior leader. These themes were explored in relation to the relevant literature regarding the experience of global business leaders, followed by an exploration of a calling for leadership transformation, aiming to cope with uncertainty and constant rapid change, and finally, the impact on the organization, when leadership matures from silo- and individual-thinking to a common-purpose direction. From the themes, a textural description was written to explore the essence of each step of the transformative journey, starting from the senior leader and followed by a collective shift of the organization’s ego. The research investigated how the transpersonal approach might bring an actualized view to business and leadership, enabling a collective transformation, giving rise to more engaged and happier people, reaching high performance and positive business results.

Globally, we are experiencing a pandemic mental health crisis. Adolescents and adults have not been adequately educated with tools and practices to regulate the difficult emotions inevitably present in life. This can lead to mental dis-ease. Personal mandalas are being increasingly used in therapeutic and clinical settings to enhance psychological well-being, integrate trauma, reduce negative mood states and increase self-knowledge. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the lived experiences of five individuals. We follow their experiential process of creating three personal mandalas and attempt to understand if they enter an altered state of consciousness similar to meditation. Meditation is known to be a practice that brings physiological and psychological benefit that involves focused attention and calm to the mind. It is theorized that the mandala may be a valuable alternative to meditation with similar benefits. Results indicate that all five participants had a meditative-type experience while creating mandalas, and four of those five may have entered what might be considered an altered state of consciousness.

The purpose of this Organic Inquiry is to explore the lived experiences of women who engaged in the so-called Inner Dialog, with the archetype of wisdom, to find support during times of global crisis. The literature describes an archetype of wisdom as a pre-existent form of the collective unconscious symbolising natural ways of knowing associated with inherent wisdom that is part of the feminine aspect of the Psyche. Eight in-depth interviews via Zoom were completed with middle-aged women who described themselves as Good Girls. They engaged in guided imagery to connect with the Wise Woman metaphor in their Psyche. The lens of the researcher’s reflexivity is employed to provide a more accurate representation of the participant’s perspective and voice. Various theories rooted in women’s psychology, archetypal and transpersonal psychology were applied to examine the data. The data analysis revealed that the women identifying as Good Girls resonated with the characteristics found in the literature. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that when the women engaged in active imagery, they embodied the dynamic structures of the inner feminine way of knowing. The implication of this research suggests that women connect with the archetype of wisdom that expands their frame of being and brings a sense of support that has the potential for integration with their intrapersonal and interpersonal, and transpersonal dimensions of life.

The aim of this study is to examine the effects of following a spiritual health programme on the wellbeing of people who live with Fibromyalgia (Bloom, 2018). The study was carried out using four participants suffering from Fibromyalgia aged over eighteen years. The data was collected from Zoom interviews with the participants which comprised of six open-ended questions designed to elicit information about the experience of the participant when following the programme. Analysis was carried out using Quirkos, a computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software programme (CAQDAS) which assists in qualitative research with the analysis of text data and was used alongside personal analysis of the data by the researcher (Turner, 2021). The analysis showed that following the spiritual health programme enabled a change of focus from the condition, which caused feelings of vulnerability, isolation, and powerlessness, to enhanced coping using spiritual practices such as meditation, and activities which enhance connection and could be considered to be spiritual practices, such as being in nature and creative writing.

Altered states of consciousness (ASC) occur when there is a deviation from normal levels of psychological functioning. They can be self-induced through meditative practices and therapeutically induced through processes like hypnotic induction. They are determined physiologically when brain rhythms drop from the ‘beta’ rhythm of waking consciousness to the ‘alpha’ and ‘theta’ rhythms of meditation and dreaming sleep. ASC offer a window into the workings of the psyche. This pilot qualitative Grounded Theory study, seeking for commonalities of experience, explores ASC through the lens of four therapeutic modalities, namely hypnotherapy, past-life regression, voice dialogue and soul-centred healing. The research findings are based on interviews with three individuals (a trainer, a practitioner and a client) from each of these modalities, totalling twelve interviews. The commonality themes of this research indicated a conviction in an element of human consciousness, the core-self or the soul, which transcends death and holds memories from perceived past lives. These experiences were seen as part of a journey of individuation to higher states of consciousness within an apparent spiritual realm. The multiplicity of the different inner world elements was also recognised, containing various characters sometimes known as sub-personalities, ego-states or simply ‘parts’.

This qualitative study used intuitive inquiry to investigate the links between the Overview Effect experienced by astronauts in Space, the COVID-19 pandemic and self-identity. Secondarily the role of telematic communication in these phenomena was considered. This inquiry examined how the Overview Effect and the pandemic, as potentially perspective-shifting phenomena, might be linked to self-identity in a specific set of expatriates whose sense of identity had already been challenged by immigration. Four adult South African immigrants, residing in England during the pandemic, were selected using criteria which mirrored the experience of the researcher. Two interviews were conducted with each participant and audio-visual material was employed to introduce the Overview Effect. Drawing on Thematic Content Analysis, themes in the data included: awe and fear; stewardship of living Earth; separation versus connection; belonging; change and transformation. The findings suggest that a number of factors link the Overview Effect and COVID-19 pandemic with self-identity, as evidenced in accounts by these expatriates. The experience of immigrating encourages a shift in perspective, similar to that induced by the Overview Effect, with attenuated feelings of nationalism and increased sense of interconnectedness. The experience of COVID -19 pandemic lockdown measures has been seen to encourage acts of altruism among community members and heighten a sense of the fragility of mankind and planet Earth, much like the altered sense of self described by some astronauts having experienced the Overview Effect.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a healing energy psychology (EP) technique based on the stimulation of determined acupressure points through soft tapping, alongside the repetition of certain words and phrases. Whilst the efficiency of EFT is reasonably substantiated by more than 200 publications, of which 100 are research studies, five are meta-analyses and 12 are review articles which have been published on EP methods in peer-reviewed journals. No research which explores the lived experience of EFT clients was found. This study sought to elicit the clients’ lived experiences using EFT and its procedures, through a phenomenological enquiry. Based on an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach (IPA), nine participants were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire protocol. All interview transcripts were carefully explored, from which five major themes emerged. The results indicated that the clients’ lived experiences with EFT go beyond the healing of a specific physical or psychological health challenge, with results constituting important life milestones or being even completely lifechanging and, as one interview strongly suggests, lifesaving. Further research is necessary to understand a wider spectrum of EFT users and their experiences. Nevertheless, the insight provided by this study may assist EFT practitioners and other health professionals showcase the possible impact that EFT can have on a person’s mental and psychological wellbeing, to achieve long-term results, which is in alignment with the findings of several studies.

The present study aimed to explore the influence of early first-time motherhood on a woman’s sense of embodiment, while using Anderson’s (2004) method of Intuitive Inquiry. The study followed five hermeneutical cycles in order to create a rigorous and transparent framework for research and transformation. Seven participants, all early first-time mothers, were interviewed through a semi-structured questionnaire. Thematic Content Analysis, and Narrative Thematic Analysis were used to refine eight recurrent themes. Overall, the results suggested that the entry into motherhood is an extraordinary journey that leads to strong bodily experiences, both of hardship and self-sacrifice, and of development of embodied awareness and the reconstruction of an empowering embodied image of self.

Freedom has many definitions; therefore, it is important to define the meaning used in this research. Freedom is the individual sovereignty defined as a state of being, condition or quality. The aim of the research was to explore the personal meaning and experience of freedom. A qualitative method of heuristic inquiry (Moustakas, 1990) was chosen, using the processes, and phases of this inquiry, to explore the nature of the phenomenon of freedom. This was explored through an online platform, with recorded interviews, using a semi-structured interview protocol. There were 11 participants, who are identified as Co-researchers, these were six males and five females, of various age and social background. Through the meaning and experience of freedom, three themes emerged: limitation to freedom, inner sense of freedom, and spiritual freedom. Limitation was identified as restriction and challenges. Inner sense of freedom was an embodiment experience of connection to self. While spiritual freedom was a transpersonal experience of the higher-Self and the experience of awakening, to a spiritual Self or a connection to something greater than self. However, the findings show all themes of limitation to freedom, inner sense of freedom, and spiritual freedom, each have an experience of embodiment, as the overarching experience.

This study was designed to explore the relationship between shadow work and psi capacity. To realise this objective, a semi-structured interview was administered to individuals who have undertaken methods or practices that aim to integrate shadow aspects of their psyche. The total sample was comprised of eight co-researchers: two males and six females with an age range of 47 to 74. Data was obtained following ethical guidelines prescribed in the methodology section of this project. For the analysis, an embodied phenomenological process and poetic embodied interpretation were used to highlight the role of the shadow work process in assisting psi capacity. Results of the analysis revealed further clarity in existing psi capacity for seven of the co-researchers and gain of an additional psi ability for one of the co-researchers. Results additionally indicate non-linear learning through the shadow work process, cultivating and refining skills that may exist as transferrable for enhancing psi capacity. Overall, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic provided opportunities for the co-researchers to address shadow aspects and triggers. The implication of this research suggests the importance of embodiment practices in promoting holistic health which may play a role in improving energetic reservoirs for psi capacity use. Further research is recommended to focus on the results of shadow self integration in more distilled categories of experience.

This study explored the experience of yoga teachers working in contemporary British yoga culture who have left the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga tradition, a subject that had not been previously researched. In particular, it looked at how they reinterpreted their roles as transmitters of yoga and how the teaching of yoga is experienced. An alchemical hermeneutic process was used alongside narrative inquiry. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven participants, as well as participant-observation in their yoga classes. Analysis showed that the yoga teachers reinterpreted their roles via a process of empowerment around their choices within practice, which was passed onto their students and experienced as embodied movement. Whilst they continued to interact with Ashtanga Vinyasa to various extents, teaching was experienced as an evolving process which combined various elements, from both yoga and non-yoga sources.

Holistic Transformation (HT) is an original approach to integral development. Published literature describes its theoretical elaborations and applications; however, no empirical research directly addresses the participant experiences on which these are based. A purposive sample of sixteen co-researchers (with a median of 20 years’ HT experience) engaged in interviews and workshops that generated verbal, somatic and artistic data. Heuristic inquiry (Moustakas, 1990) methodology was applied and further developed within a participatory framework that included additional data validation interviews. Six out of ten co-researchers felt that their individual depiction accurately described their experience of HT. The average resonance score among eight co-researchers who participated in the composite depiction validation interview was 8.9. Five main themes emerged: multidimensional ways of knowing; relational changes; a gradual process of self-directed personal growth; linguistic and metaphorical framework; and receptive, open, “feminine” qualities. Investigation results provide experiential insights into the processes, challenges, insights and structures that accompanied and facilitated co-researchers’ integrative development. The research concludes that receptivity and appropriate open structures are central to HT practices, activating multidimensional intelligences that participate in co-creating alternative intrapersonal, interpersonal and transpersonal outcomes and experiences, oriented towards integral health and wellbeing. Limitations and further research are discussed.

Sex is fundamental to being human. Far beyond simply being a means to reproduce, sex in humans contributes to pleasure and intimacy. It is a means of personal expression, interpersonal connection and potentially more. As both a Psychosexual and Transpersonal Therapist, I am interested in that ‘more’ – as are so many of my clients. What is our human sexual potential and why would we want to attain it? This research is a Heuristic Inquiry (Moustakas, 2000) into this topic. How is an optimal sexuality experienced, and how does it transform our sexuality, our relationships and our own sense of self? Six couples joined me as co-researchers on this journey. Initially self-identifying as having this type of sexuality, they shared me with their experience of their sexuality, their journey and their transformations along the way. Through their participation and my own immersion in the heuristic process, I was able to identify many ways in which the co-researchers transformed as individuals and as couples and from that to take a transpersonal approach to postulate why this type of sexuality has these benefits, explaining how their experience of sex is not simply isolated acts separate from the rest of life, but is a joyfully entered into co-creation of experience which elicits a vital Eros energy that permeates life.

Heuristic methodology (Moustakas, 1990) was employed to explore the experiences and identities of women without children in relation to predominant discourses around womanhood and motherhood. The research was conducted in two phases: the researcher engaged in a process of self-search as a prelude to the participation of seven co-researchers, a mix of intentional and involuntarily childless women aged between 50 and 75. Individual depictions were created through a narrational technique of empathic explication, based on data produced from conversational interviews and historical material. A composite depiction was then created, illustrating an archetypal experiential journey unfolding from the position of female materiality and conveying key aspects of experience and processes of identity formation. The research findings reveal that embodied experiences of womanhood from the position of a woman without children demonstrate complex, diverse, and transpersonal experiences that challenge and surpass the boundaries of predominant conceptions of womanhood. In revealing the complexity of ‘choice’ and the plurality of experiences relating to nurturance and creativity, the study’s findings support the development of a feminist participatory perspective in working to deconstruct and reconceptualise essentialist conceptions pertaining to womanhood, and effectively challenge the widespread conflation of ‘woman’ with ‘mother’ in predominant discourses.

Psychedelic plants have been used by humans for healing and transformation for thousands of years, yet beginning in the 1960s a new revolution of such use sprouted outside traditional indigenous use. This study looked into the transformative effects and integration challenges of psychedelic experiences with psilocybin and LSD for the Romanian population. The aim was to determine the long-term transformative effects and challenges individuals might encounter during the integration process. The study employed a sequential mixed method design, where qualitative interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) (with six interview participants) was followed by a quantitative survey (with 39 responses). The qualitative data analysis led to a multi-layered hierarchical model of themes and subordinate themes spanning across a full developmental spectrum from changes in perception of self, emotional transformation, spiritual transformation, interpersonal transformation, and personal, interpersonal, and cultural integration challenges. The survey results made it possible to compare the interview group with a broader national sample, and the sample’s statistical similarity provided extra validity to the smaller sample qualitative thematic findings. The psychedelic experiences inspired long-term transformation and persisting positive effects in the participants. However, the nature and challenges of the integration journey ranged from mild difficulties to more substantial ones, interpersonal and cultural challenges such as communication challenges and absence of a community and oppressive legislation being common. Further in-depth cross-cultural studies on the topic are necessary to confirm cultural differences.

This research project set out to explore the role of love in co-creating a new ‘culture of care’ in the face of environmental disintegration. In this study, the researcher draws on her own direct experience of the purest love, which triggered an increase in self-understanding at a deeper level and gradually at a much larger eco-systemic context. This study also sought to contribute to the lack of current practical literature within climate adaptation activities, majority of which focuses on physical adaptation (Bendell, 2018). Dealing with these issues, however, also requires coming to terms with psychological, emotional and spiritual realities of the unfolding impact of climate emergency. Using Diamond Approach description of non-dual dimension which reveals the nature of reality as unconditional love, six co-researchers as well as a deep reflection of my own journey, this research project explored the deeper meaning of love, its value in our journey towards sustainable living, as well as identifying ways of honouring it in our daily lives which may assist us in navigating increasingly tumultuous times. My learning process during the research and writing of this thesis was observed in the context of the topic and is demonstrated following heuristic inquiry which allowed for direct involvement in considering our capacity to sustain life through the work of love.

This research aims to explore the lived experience of the power animal (PA) during a shamanic journey of experienced occidental non-shamans with sonic driving (drumming), as taught by the foundation for shamanic studies (FSS) and to explore what might be the benefits of this experience. The experience of the PA has been understudied, however it is the most common experience in shamanism. The literature has not sufficiently addressed the benefits of the experience of the PA and has focused more on other aspect of core-shamanism or shamanism as a whole. This study aimed to fill this literature gap. Using a transcendental phenomenological approach, six participants were interviewed and asked about the nature of the experience of the PA, how they integrated it in their life and how they benefited from it. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded in order to do a thematic analysis. Themes were used to create textural and structural descriptions for each participant. Those descriptions were then combined to find the essence of the experience. It seems that experiencing the PA can bring a wide array of benefits. Participants received healing, emotional support, positive change in behaviours, a deeper meaning of life, a stronger connection to nature, guidance, well-being, help for making choices, teachings, and enhanced relation to people. This is exploratory research and further research is needed to explore this experience especially in relation to the benefits and how those benefits could have a more powerful impact in therapeutic contexts to support integration of the experience of the PA.

Using an auto-ethnographic methodology and with the intention of analysing the relationship between psychosis, mysticism, and environment, this dissertation gathers the stories from three persons (including the author) that have lived in the threshold between psychosis, mysticism, and conventional reality. Throughout the analysis, the dissertation recognizes the important effect that the sociocultural constructs that contextualize each person have in determining a diagnosis of their experience as psychotic or as mystic; and the power of this diagnosis in determining the amount of distress and social adjustment of each case. After summarizing the main approaches coming from transpersonal psychology, which expands the conventional psychiatric paradigm into including some aspects of spirituality, the dissertation addresses issues found in the great majority of the transpersonal theories which still acknowledge a polarity between psychosis and spirituality. Finally, the author proposes an expansion of the perspective, to include what he calls ‘storm rotation’: a spontaneous self-less aspect of experience within psychosis and mysticism; and what he calls the ‘eye of the storm’: the non-dual aspect. One of the conclusions of the dissertation is that more research produced with people with psychosis as researchers, co-researchers, or advisors, would be helpful and should be supported in order to understand such complex realities.

Burnout is comprehensively researched from a conventional linear perspective. Notwithstanding, the condition is pervasive, and research utilising alternative approaches are sorely lacking. The aim of this study was to go beyond the symptoms and determine the lived experiences and root causes of professionals who have been in burnout, from a transpersonal psychology perspective. Two research questions were formulated. What are the transpersonal characteristics of the embodied experiences of professionals who have had or are in burnout, and are personal meanings derived from burnout experiences? The research approach was phenomenological and employed a qualitative methodology. Interviews were conducted with eight professionals working in a range of industries. Interviews were conducted with a transpersonal focussed semi-structured interview schedule. The interviews were transcribed, and analysed, using theme analysis. Findings of this study revealed three themes which are phases in the process, namely State of Turmoil (manic phase), Dark Night of the Soul (phase of anguish, despair, and breakdown), and Breakthrough (final phase of realisations, integration, and transformation). Experiences of burnout from a transpersonal perspective, produced substantially different findings to the traditional literature. Burnout was described as having had meaning, and an essential life event for the participants’ personal learning and growth. These findings require us to think differently about how we define and treat burnout.

The aim was to examine and understand the experience of self-transformation through artistic and spiritual practice. A heuristic methodology (Moustakas, 1990) was chosen, as a quintessential approach to study this phenomenon. A sample group of three artists and three spiritual practitioners were recruited. The dynamics of the transformative phenomenon was viewed through four stages of progression. They are categorized as Catalyst, Process, Experience and Manifestation. A semi-structured interview protocol was employed for data collection. The four categories were used to generate the interview protocol as well as to understand and analyze the data. The results affirmed that artistic and spiritual practices facilitate self-transformation. Expansiveness, Openness, Empathy, Heightened Awareness and Acceptance were articulated by the participants as core aspects of the experience of self -transformation.

Aphantasia is the inability to see mental images in the mind’s eye (Zemen, 2015). Studied previously from a neuroscientific perspective, this study explores the living experience of aphantasia through a transpersonal lens, using a heuristic methodological approach. Seven co-researchers, all with aphantasia, are asked how spiritual practices that use visual mental sense are experienced by those without mental imagery and how involuntary mental imagery in dreams is experienced. The study showed whilst visual practices were experienced differently, they nonetheless worked, with accompanying validation to the extent whereby the practice was used regularly. Alternative mental senses, such as auditory, haptic and kinaesthetic often replaced visual experiences. A feeling of being able to see vividly in some other way was universally reported. Dreams were sometimes kinaesthetic and mostly visual, although less overwhelming or intense than they felt those with mental imagery described their dreams to be. Some felt there was a purpose of protection against too intense an experience behind aphantasia, possibly originating from an early life or past life experience, or a transgenerational trauma experience from previous generations. The study offers insight to practitioners of spiritual practices and therapies which use visual imagery, lending valuable knowledge on how to make their practices accessible to those without mental imagery.

The remarkable interest in tattoos over the past four decades led me to my research question “Are Tattoos Symbols of Transformation?” I consider the historical literature on tattoos to understand their origins in today’s context. Examining the process of tattoo as a rite of passage, I explore the possibilities of tattooing as a transformative symbol between the mundane and transpersonal realms of existence. Examining both current and historical literature generated an understanding of indigenous knowledge and why its revival is important in today’s world. Inspired by the excitement and enthusiasm of my research participants to talk about their tattoo experiences, I embarked on an Intuitive Inquiry (Anderson,1998,2004) into the essence of this phenomenon. Ten participants, selected intuitively, shared their life stories with me in the context of their tattoo experiences. My participant sample were selected on the basis of diversity from a race, age and gender perspective. My participants from indigenous backgrounds shed light on the connection between tattooing today and in its conception, which was invaluable. Through analysing the in-depth interviews over a six month period, with the help of Thematic Content Analysis(Anderson,2007) revealed the prospect of transformative states through the portal of pain comparable, to peak experiences and mystical states. This facilitated the possibility of an alteration of perception, applicable to daily worldview. My participants revealed how transformative and healing the tattoo process was for them.

Research suggests that awakening experiences have certain specific characteristics and can elicit long term transformative effects. The current era of psychedelic renaissance is attesting to psychedelic’s potential to induce awakening or mystical experiences. This study researched the phenomenology of psychedelic induced awakening experiences and how they compare to awakening experiences, triggered by other means. Awakening experiences were explored through retrospective reports of eight participants. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) method was employed, to extract the key characteristics of the reported experiences through participants’ descriptions and engage with their reflections on the significance of these experiences (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009). Three superordinate themes were derived through the analysis: awakening type of characteristics, other phenomenological characteristics, and transformative effects, all with several subordinate themes. The study findings showed that many characteristics of psychedelic induced awakening experiences, in terms of phenomenology and transformative effects, are highly comparable to the characteristics of awakening or mystical experiences in general. Psychedelic induced awakening experiences were also found to have additional phenomenological characteristics, not usually akin to awakening experiences. Limitations of the study were discussed, and further research options explored.

Buddhists, psychologists and transpersonal psychotherapists have considered compassion. However, there is nothing in the literature that examines the embodied sense of compassion from a psychotherapeutic stance. To fill that gap, this research study, which employs both intellect and intuition, explores whether it is possible to embody compassion as a state of being – a level of consciousness where compassion is embodied. Using the intuitive inquiry methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with four purposely sampled counsellors or psychotherapists. The research question was “What is it like to experience a compassionate state of being – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?” The interviews were analysed using thematic content analysis as outlined by Anderson (2008). The major categories were: ego development, transpersonal consciousness, increased intuition, and relational connection. The results indicated that a compassionate state of being occurs at a transpersonal level of consciousness, occupying a relational position of “I-I”, “I-We”. The ego traverses through different developmental stages: “I-It”, “I-You” to “I-I”, “I-We”. The research also showed that each participant experienced a profound shift in his or her level of connection with the other, yet remained separate. However, each participant’s individual experience of embodying a sense of compassion was unique and personal – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. These results stimulate future research into an understanding of whether entering a compassionate state of being could help psychotherapists to reduce, or even avoid, experiencing vicarious trauma, burnout or compassion fatigue when working from a compassionate state of being?

This study aimed to explore and unravel the experience of spending time in nature after a close bereavement through utilising the qualitative, transpersonal methodology, Heuristic Inquiry. Motivated by my own compelling and powerful experiences of being with grief in nature (BGN) I surveyed the literature and found no academic studies on this topic, though first-person accounts of the experience emerge regularly in memoirs. Eight co-researchers from the UK, with diverse worldviews regarding consciousness in the natural world and after death, were invited to share their experiences of BGN through semi-structured interviews, creative expression, and ongoing personal inquiry. The results indicate that BGN facilitates insights and states of being that are beneficial in times of grief, such as connecting to the transpersonal through nature, inquiry and wonder, appreciation of beauty, presence, and acceptance. BGN also facilitated meaning-making from the loss and a continuation of bonds with the deceased, which according to current literature encourage adaptive outcomes (Neimeyer et al., 2010; Klass et al., 1996;). However, darker aspects of the topic were also illuminated where the energetic quality of certain landscapes, weather, and the loss of biodiversity in the natural world occasionally resulted in a deepened sense of loss. Through the analytic lens of eco-orientated participatory theory, I conclude that due to the emotional openness and vulnerability occurring through the grief process, BGN enables a more intense sensory and participatory experience in nature. Implications are that BGN should be considered as an approach to grieving that can benefit the individual as well as deepen human-earth relations, justifying further research into the topic including exploration of sensitively held therapeutic applications.

Burnout is defined as a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment (Maslach et al., 1986). With burnout becoming increasingly prevalent within policing, this study aims to provide a greater understanding of the condition by exploring the lived experience of burnout for British officers. Whilst research into police burnout has been well documented, the quantitative measures frequently adopted provided little scope to explore the deeper and more personal aspects of the syndrome. Utilising a qualitative approach, this study derived data from five participants using semi-structured interviews and an interpretative phenomenological methodology for analysis. Six categories of themes emerged: 1.Perceived causes, 2.Personal impact factors, 3.Experiencing burnout, 4.Changed feelings and behaviour, 5.The underlying meaning, and 6.What was the learning? Participants perceive working conditions and environment as the main cause for their burnout. They also describe other aspects of experience which have contributed towards their long-term suffering and subsequent health issues. The relationship between police burnout and spiritual crisis is discussed, an area rarely explored and provides rich material for those focussed on burnout research. It is hoped that this study will help inform work-based solutions and provide a platform for future investigation.

The aim of this study is to explore how a teacher’s inner process work/ innate qualities can support creativity for a transformative online learning experience during an adverse situation, such as Covid 19, a global pandemic which emerged at the end of 2019. Many teachers were forced to quickly pivot to online teaching, prompting me to engage in heuristic inquiry, a qualitative research method, to explore the subjective living experiences of these teachers, including my own. Taking all ethical aspects into consideration, I carried out semi structured interviews with eight teacher “co-researchers”. Analysis of interviews uncovered themes and the results are presented through individual depictions, a composite depiction and a creative synthesis. The discussion looks at the findings in the data in relation to relevant literature and through a transpersonal lens. Finally, the limitations of the study are explored and ideas for future research identified. Key findings in the data would suggest that it is the quality of the teacher-student relationship, emanating from teacher presence, which could potentially overcome the challenges of pivoting to online teaching and create possibilities in the future for transformative learning.

This essay studies a phenomenon called ‘awakening experience’ (AE) (Taylor, 2017), which displays characteristics of expanded and intensified perception, using a humanistic qualitative approach called heuristic inquiry (Moustakas, 1990). The aim was to study the phenomenology of Chinese individuals who reported having had such experiences. Purposive sampling was used to find a group of individuals who were born and lived in China until adulthood, and who felt that they had undergone such experiences, as defined by Taylor (2017). Seven participants were recruited through Chinese social media, except one, who was an acquaintance of the author. The participants were interviewed using a semi-structured format. The transcripts were coded, and an individual depiction was created for each participant. A composite depiction with 15 main themes across the participants was then elicited, and a creative synthesis was generated to illuminate the essence of the collective experience of all participants, as well as featuring the experiences of the researcher. Most of the findings resonate with previous studies and support previous findings that AE shares similar features regardless of cultural or spiritual background and is more a ‘spiritual opening’ with both psychological benefits and disturbances rather than being an equivalent to the popular notion of ‘enlightenment’ – a state of continuous peace and contentment (Tolle, 2001).

Normal adult identity formation and individuation has been well documented in psychological and world spiritual literature. Identity and individuation differ for twins because of their physiological and psychological connection with each other. Although literature has to some extent explored twin identity at prepersonal and personal stages of ego development, little research literature exists which looks to unravel transpersonal phases of twins’ individuation. With a focus on transpersonal development, this research used intuitive inquiry to investigate “How adult twins experience and view their identity.” Individual twins (monozygotic and dizygotic) were interviewed to understand their experience of their own identity development. The researcher’s own experience of twin identity was reported through embodied writing and poetry. Results allowed for the formation of an emerging model of Twin Identity Development, which outlined a possible trajectory for twin identity development, introducing the transpersonal as a connecting thread between the prepersonal and personal twin identity. Participant perspectives on identity development indicated the possibility for twins to embrace both an individual and a joint identity and in some cases, transcend both. Embracing all aspects of both identities created a sense of wholeness for twins. Further investigation into different twin identities and parenting of twins could validate the research.

Evidence is mounting that microdosing could have beneficial effects in the areas of treatment-resistant depression, addiction, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and creativity. However, no literature has addressed the lived experience of psilocybin microdosing. This study used transcendental phenomenology to explore the experiences shared between individuals who microdose psilocybin mushrooms. The study included a sample of 12 participants (five males, five females) aged between 24 and 38. All participants were Caucasian consisting of five from the UK, four from the US, one Italian (residing in Tel Aviv) one Swede (residing in the UK) and one Australian (residing in Mexico). The interviews were conducted via zoom, and transcribed interviews were analysed using the phenomenological method outlined by Moustakas (1994). There were seven central themes: 1) Microdosing meant different doses to different individuals, the effects differed between participants and differing protocols 2) Changes in mental health were experienced by participants in both positive and negative ways 3) A feeling of connection to self, nature or something ‘bigger’ was felt by some participants in varying degrees 4) Some participants felt an increase in productivity 5) An increased state of wellbeing was shared by some individuals 6) Some individuals felt that they could navigate problems more effectively 7) Participants with a musical background experienced an increase in their levels of creativity. By providing support for the use of psilocybin microdosing, the findings are valuable in the growing field of psychedelic research and the possibility that the practice could be used in clinical settings in the future.

This study aims to analyse and distinguish the healing and transformative potential of lucid dreaming for overcoming depression. It applied Smith and Osborn’s (2007) interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) as a qualitative research method. IPA is a particularly useful methodology for examining complex accounts of an individual’s personal perceptions and complex topics which are emotionally laden. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 12 participants, all of whom have a high frequency of lucid dreams. Data analysis was conducted on six of the twelve participants and a table of relevant and overlapping themes and connections between cases was constructed. The superordinate themes identified were self-exploration; creativity; empowerment; & spiritual and transpersonal. Overall, findings suggest that lucid dreaming is a powerful transpersonal modality which fosters healing, transformation, and the potential to mitigate depression.

Today a woman’s cycle and psyche are fragmented between two opposing poles of her functioning: ovulation and menstruation. One is deemed ‘evil’ by centuries of patriarchal societies. This disconnection can be addressed by rebuilding a relationship with the entirety of their menstrual cycle and the feminine. According to relational models of women’s psychology, this allows women to develop and function in harmony with natural rhythms of their inner and outer worlds. This study explored the experience of menstruation for women practicing menstrual blood rituals of communion with Earth, bringing them into relationship with menstruation and the feminine. The current research used an interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology and employed three participants who performed menstrual rituals for three consecutive menstruations. Data was acquired through semi-structured in-depth interviews. The data analysis resulted in four themes: negative beliefs; relationship with menstrual cycle; transpersonal correlations of menstrual cycle; and connection with the feminine. This study contributes and supports current literature concerned with qualitative research of women’s experience of menstruation. It highlights: gender specific psychological models; the possibility for women to function harmoniously honouring their natural rhythms; and the capacity of ritual to bring women into relationship with menstruation and lead them to transpersonal unitive experiences.

An Out of Body Experience (OBE) is when an individual reports experiencing the world from a location outside of their physical body. They occur in at least 10% of the population, yet only a minority of research explores the effects outside of the pathological clinical setting. This study is an interpretive phenomenological analysis of the experiences of eight ‘healthy’ participants whom have undergone one or more spontaneous OBE’s. Semi- structured interviews were used. The analysis of transcripts resulted in the emergence of eight themes: 1) catalyst; 2) decreased fear of death; 3) increased inner peace; 4) new life view; 5) greater self awareness; 6) sense of individuality; 7) re-evaluated relationships 8) affirmed or novel spiritual beliefs. The findings revealed significant changes related to the transformation of self-identity, spiritual beliefs and life view. These suggest that the phenomena could be an Exceptional Human Experience (EHE) with potential benefits to the experiencer. Correlations between OBEs and awakening experiences, had similar effects to Near Death Experiences (NDEs). Whilst tighter boundaries around participant selection could be administered, the data acquired can be drawn upon within clinical and therapeutic settings. Further research is proposed around the depth and type of transformation to measure specific and longitudinal change.

Psychedelics are psychoactive agents that alter perception and affect numerous cognitive processes. Their use dates back to human pre-history, and after thousands of years of ritualistic use in different ages and cultures around the world, there is currently a resurgence in research exploring their effects. Psychedelic integration is the process by which different parts of a psychedelic experience are integrated into a coherent narrative, so that the lessons and insights gained during the experience could be assimilated into the day to day life of the person. Psychedelic “meta-integration”, refers to the process by which people integrate the total sum of their psychedelic experiences into their personality, relationships and practice. Using a phenomenological approach and semi-structured protocols, eight interviews were conducted with psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers and psychotherapists, having significant first-person experience with psychedelics, with the intention to shed light on the psychological and spiritual aspects of psychedelic meta-integration, on the nature and nuances of their experience throughout the process, on the different practices that are involved and on the different ways with which these Western mental health professionals are implementing their psychedelic insights into their daily life and clinical work. Data analysis gave rise to a multi-layered model that encompasses core aspects of human life, including interpersonal and emotional development, relationship with death and with nature, love, meaning and spirituality, together with aspects that relate to the therapeutic work of Western mental health professionals. In addition, a list of practices that could potentially support the assimilation of psychedelic insights and experiences into daily life was produced, thus offering a possible framework for the integration process of multiple psychedelic experiences.

The research investigated the experiences of self-healing and personal transformation within Reiki Practitioners who channel Reiki to heal themselves or others. The research explored this topic within Reiki Practitioners who are situated outside of the nursing literature. The methodology of intuitive inquiry was used and eight participants as well as the researcher’s experiences were analysed using Thematic Content Analysis. Eight themes were formed and included: Opening the Door, Shifting Beliefs, Lifestyle Changes, Healing Crisis, Moving Past Doubts, Spiritual Connection and Self-Empowerment. Two of the participant’s narratives were shared in depth, in addition to a compound narrative which included the other participants’ experiences – including my own. My findings show that the Reiki practitioners experienced transformation on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level. Many of the participants experienced mental and emotional struggles which they learnt to interpret as meaningful and integrate into their lives. Many of the participants learnt to shift their beliefs and make lifestyle changes which led to greater self- empowerment. The Reiki practitioners’ journeys of healing and transformation were found to correlate with stages of development within Transpersonal models of psycho-spiritual development. An attempt was made to map out the Reiki Practitioner’s experiences alongside these models of development.

This study looks to examine transformation, as experienced through initiation as an African traditional healer, or sangoma, from an emic perspective. In doing so, it applies autoethnography as its methodology to extract and explicate the key elements of transformational process together with their implications for transpersonal psychology. Autoethnography as a method provides the opportunity to embed rich first-person descriptions of the transformation based upon memory data and other key data artefacts. The study also makes the use of interviews to correlate and further investigate the topic of my own transformation, drawing from key individuals present throughout the period of transformation. In tracing the arc of my own lived experience as a subject, this study focuses on the structure of the experience, ritual elements, and lived implications as well as discussing who exactly is involved in transformation, how transformation takes place, and a resulting proposal for defining transformation within transpersonal psychology.

This study explored the creation and use of a Creative/therapeutic dance (CTD) practice called Mindful Movement as a practice to manage and improve wellbeing of women. CTD has traditionally attracted a more spiritually aware client group and the researcher wanted to introduce the modality into a community setting to women who were new to CTD. The aim of this project is to determine the essential elements of a CTD program that would be both appealing to and serve the needs of beginners/general community members; and secondly, to explore the experience and impacts of a CTD program on a beginner audience. The Mindful Movement program was a four week movement and meditation program initially designed by the researcher based on an existing U.S. based CTD program called The Morning Sojourn. The study used a participatory action research approach based on the work of Kemmis and McTaggart (1988), and Grundy (1982, 1986) to collaborate with participants to modify the Mindful Movement program to suit their needs over the course of the four weeks. The researcher then utilised the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach based on the work of Larkin and Thompson (2012), and Pietkiewicz and Smith (2012) to explore the lived experience of those participants via participant interviews after the completion of the program, to endeavour to understand the key themes and impacts of the program, and to determine whether the program has indeed improved the wellbeing of participants. Results indicated that all participants came into the program reporting high levels of stress in their lives. All participants reported that the program itself had been a positive experience. Results showed that the participants were divided between those who enjoyed dancing freely and those who preferred direction and guidance. Those who were comfortable dancing freely described experiences of losing themselves in the music similar to the flow state, as described by Csikszentmihalyi. Participants also described being able to focus in meditation or improve their quality of meditation after the movement practice. The key limitation of this study was a potential responder bias as the researcher was also the facilitator of the Mindful Movement program. Future research links identified included a potential link between anxiety and the ability to enter the flow state, and whether pre-participating in a movement/dance practice is associated with an ability to meditate more effectively.

Surrogate EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a distance healing energy psychology technique which involves an individual tapping on their acupressure points for the benefit of another. Whilst cases of surrogate EFT have been documented, not much is known about practitioner experiences. This study is a phenomenological enquiry into how EFT practitioners conduct surrogate EFT, with the aim being to elicit lived experiences as well as protocols being used. The research method employed was an interpretative phenomenological analysis, in which six participants were interviewed using a semi-structed interview approach. Interview transcripts were carefully analysed, resulting in the emergence of seven themes: 1) protocols; 2) connection; 3) physical experiences; 4) practitioner skills; 5) permission; 6) practitioner beliefs and 7) contraindications. The findings suggest that conducting surrogate EFT is a multi-faceted procedure, going far beyond just a step-by-step protocol. The findings have revealed a transpersonal aspect, with many of the lived experiences described being similar to those experienced by spiritual mediums. Whilst further consideration still needs to be given to the ethical framework and practitioner safety, the insight provided by both the lived experiences and the specific protocols used, provide the foundation for developing a standardised protocol for further systematic studies.

This research explored the phenomenon of nature as healer through the lived experience of wild swimmers at Kenwood Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath (abbreviated as the Ladies’ Pond). Five semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the experience of women who swim regularly at Kenwood Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath. Five key themes emerged from the data analysis. These were: first, nature through wild swimming, second, perception of the place through wild swimming, third, the physical and psychological benefits of wild swimming, fourth, descriptive feeling benefits through wild swimming and fifth, healing through wild swimming. These themes were explored in relation to relevant literature. From this a textural description was written to describe the essence of experiences through wild swimming, along with identifying limitations in the research and further considerations.

This study examines the potential of an evidence-based strategy for using Facebook to improve subjective well-being. Using Seligman’s five-factor PERMA model of well-being as a guide, four categories of Facebook configuration and behavioral changes were identified (Facebook Time, Alerts & Notifications, Content and Engagement – F.A.C.E.) which were anticipated to touch on each of the five well-being factors under PERMA, forming the basis of a Facebook Strategy for Well-Being (FSW). Five participants utilized the FSW over two 7-day phases of the study. Using a mixed methods approach. Self-reports of qualitative and quantitative measures of subjective well-being, along with overall sentiments around Facebook use and content, were evaluated. The major themes which emerged following the FSW were a sense of feeling “empowered” and experiencing more “preferred content” on the Facebook News Feed. Positive sentiments in each F.A.C.E category increased as well as overall Facebook experience, following the FSW. Quantitative measures of SWB obtained with the PERMA-Profiler found that 9 out of 10 before/after measures of SWB either increased or remained stable following the FSW. These findings support previous research showing a link between how one uses Facebook can positively impact mental health and well-being. These findings also demonstrate that a comprehensive, evidence-based yet easy-to-follow strategy can be deployed by Facebook users with minimal technical skills that produces immediate and positive changes in their experience potentially increasing subjective well-being. Limitations to the study are discussed, along with suggestions for future social-media research and the role of psychology in Positive Computing.

This research project studied the dynamics and occasionality behind unusual and altered states of consciousness experienced by counsellors and psychotherapists whilst conducting therapy. Of the six counsellors took part in this study, all were female, three were fully qualified, whilst three were student practitioners nearing the end of their diplomas at the time of interview. Each of the six co-researchers had encountered an unforgettable event during a therapeutic encounter in which distortions of time and diminishment of sensory detail arose. The aim of this project was to employ a qualitative research platform in which the experiences of the participants could be introduced to an interpretive phenomenological analysis in order to explicate a deeper understanding of such unusual occurrences. The findings of this report lend support to the currently held views within humanistic and transpersonal fields that the profoundly connective encounters of therapists whilst conducting therapy are greatly beneficial to psychological health. This investigation found that the willingness to be open to the presence, and essence, of another, on both sides of the therapeutic dyad, contributed to the arising of intense, powerful and profound experiences in the therapist. In all cases, the unusual events and altered states led to the deepening of the healing potential within the therapy whilst simultaneously providing developmental propulsion for each practitioner.

This study explores the emerging field of earth connection with the transpersonal research methodology, Intuitive Inquiry. 10 white Western women aged between 36 and 64 were interviewed and Thematic Content Analysis, conducted using QSR International’s NVivo 11 Qualitative Data Analysis Software, was used to identify the emerging themes within the data and to create descriptive summaries. The research finds that connecting to the earth may help us (a) process difficult emotions and experience more positive ones; (b) stay present and deal with life more effectively; (c) feel in control of changes in our lives; (d) realise that we need to give back to the earth for what it provides for us; (e) expand our sense of self to include a sense of a divine cycle of life and; (f) feel part of the earth as we develop a clearer sense of who we are on an individual level. These findings, and others that suggest a conscious process of connecting with the earth, are discussed in light of the current research on nature connectedness and transpersonal psychology.

This study aims to learn more about the lived experience of conscious uncoupling, and the role of compassion within that experience. The transpersonal research approach, Organic Inquiry, was chosen to explore the stories of seven women and one man (including the researcher), who self-assessed their break-up experience as fitting the definition of conscious uncoupling. While there is literature on forgiveness and divorce, current literature specific to compassion in divorce is limited to one study on the benefits of self-compassion and divorce. No literature was found on compassion and divorce. Results confirm that despite the dearth of literature on the subject, compassion and self-compassion are integral to conscious uncoupling. Results indicate the importance of spirituality in conscious uncoupling as a conduit to wider transformation. Practicing self-compassion is seen as more important than compassion, but it is also hard to practice. Compassion for others and compassion for self go hand-in-hand, but achieving the balance is complex. No clear answers on how to achieve that balance emerged. Further research into the dual practice of compassion and self-compassion in divorce is recommended and would benefit from the inclusion of measured studies on the effects of dual compassion training courses in divorcing couples. It is suggested that the term mindful uncoupling is a much clearer term than conscious uncoupling.

This study explored the transformative potential of Nia as experienced by six advanced Nia instructors. Participants were brown or black belt instructors with on-going Nia practices, who had necessarily experienced transformation as defined in this study. The transpersonal context of this study defined transformation as a change that brings about a long-lasting state, including a fundamental shift in perspective and attention. This shift in perception includes the way in which one sees oneself and the world, and consequently impacts one’s relationships and values in a lasting way (Schlitz, Vieten & Amorok, 2007). Whilst many studies have explored the transformative potential of various movement practices, there exist very few Nia-specific studies, none of which explore transformation as defined by this study. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009) was used, due to my experience of transformation through various movement practices and an interest in the transformative potential of Nia specifically, as well as the idiographic nature of transformation as defined in this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted online, as the participants were in various locations around the world. Thematic analysis was conducted in order to derive overarching themes that were applicable across cases. Eight overarching themes included valuing the body as the most important relationship, self-regulation through the practice of Nia, healthier relationships, transformation through embodied principles, Nia as a sacred livelihood, disciplined practice as key to on-going transformation, healing the world through Nia, and increased spiritual connection to the universe. Factors that facilitated the experienced transformation included having a disciplined, on-going practice of Nia, practicing Nia within a community, and creating a sacred livelihood. The findings have potential implications for those with an advanced Nia practice, the greater Nia community, as well as those interested in transformation through movement practices. Limitations of this study are discussed and further research options, including Nia-specific studies and studies exploring transformation through other movement practices, are explored.

The present study aimed to explore the lived experience and transformative potential of 5 Rhythms dancing meditation practice developed by Roth (1998). It applied Anderson`s (1998) research method of Intuitive Inquiry to draw on both intellect and intuition. Research progressed through 5 hermeneutical cycles to provide full transparency of how the original understandings of the researcher have transformed in the light of new data and how the findings integrate into existing theories and research. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine participants, all of whom are 5 Rhythms dancers. Using Thematic Content Analysis 11 descriptive themes were identified with sub-themes. The dominant themes were connecting and honouring the body; mindful presence and its challenges; connecting to something larger than the self; sense of purpose, meaning, and truth; connecting to all aspects of the self; and creativity and play. Overall, the findings suggested that 5 Rhythms is a powerful practice which fosters an embodied psycho-spiritual healing and transformation, given that certain factors are present including intention, attention, or connection to the body, self and others.

This study is an inquiry into a lived experience of transformation of students in an online postgraduate course of Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology. The research was carried out using intuitive inquiry (Anderson & Braud, 2011), a reflective process based around five iterative cycles of interpretation, which builds on both intellectual rigour and intuitive ways of knowing. Seven participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview, five of them also engaged in drawing a mandala symbolically capturing their learning journeys, which further enriched the researcher’s insights. The data were analysed and presented using Moustakas’ (1990) heuristic approach, which aims to understand, describe and explore the meaning of an experience, while personally involving the researcher. The themes presented as a composite depiction were then compared to the researcher’s initial understanding of the topic prior to data collection. Consequently, this process translated itself into an expanded interpretation. It involved two new lenses: the readiness to be transformed and duration of engagement in transformative learning as conditions for a transformative experience to occur on the course. It also involved four refined lenses: the course being experienced as a path to continuous self- transformation, transformative learning being experienced as a process of letting go and letting come as well as generative of shifts in being and doing, and transformative education as a set-up cultivating these shifts in being and doing. The conclusion of the study was three-fold. First, it concluded that there are many transformative elements to be honoured about the course. Second, it also suggested directions in which the course could evolve. Finally, the study became a transformative vehicle in its own accord for both the researcher and the participants.

The study represents an Organic Inquiry into the emotional, psychological, philosophical and spiritual aspects of the lived experience of female solitude. Fifteen women, including the author of the research, participated by sharing their first-person accounts and related experiential perspectives on living alone, being solitary or choosing to spend extended periods of time by themselves. One additional portrayal of solitude experience was introduced via a third person account. In the course of this study, different theories derived from feminist literature, depth and archetypal psychology, transpersonal theory, phenomenology and Jungian analysis were applied to the data. Through the data analysis, the stories of these women, uncovering the inner workings of solitude, revealed how, despite of some intense emotional upheavals, spending time alone developed a mindset of positive autonomy and cultivated dynamic, fertile inner life, expressed and experienced through a reconnection with the inner self; recovering, transforming and/ or solidifying one’s sense of essential selfhood; self-regulation, self-therapy and self- healing; strengthening one’s self-esteem ( and its components: self-acceptance, self-reliance, self-efficacy, self-sufficiency ); improving one’s relational capacities and understanding of others; unveiling and fuelling one’s creativity; expanding one’s spiritual awareness and sense of connection with a larger whole and/or a higher power.

This research explores the relationship between travel and transpersonal or spiritual development; and employs Moustakas’ heuristic enquiry (1990) as a qualitative methodology ideally suited to reveal tacit phenomena to study five participants/co-researchers experience of travel and spiritual growth. Analysis of interviews uncovered themes and the results are presented through individual depictions, an exemplary and composite depiction, and a creative-synthesis. The discussion adds insights from transpersonal psychology and concludes that for those that are open to experience travel can implicitly share similarities with therapy and spiritual practices and that these and the liminal aspect of travel can continue on returning to transform life at home.

This study examines the experience of those who help others to see through the illusion of a separate self. The Buddhist doctrine of anatta is reviewed and its potential for the basis of a ‘third-wave’ cognitive behavioural therapy is explored. The organisation Liberation Unleashed (LU) is introduced and its online method of guides helping seekers to see through the illusion of a separate self is described. Using a qualitative approach the study examines the experiences of six LU guides. The six participants were interviewed and the data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Eleven major shared themes were identified: Definition: the illusion of a separate self; Definition: seeing through the illusion; Motivation for helping others; The guiding relationship; Obstacles: background, beliefs, expectations; Obstacles: fear; Obstacles: choice and control; Obstacles: thinking instead of looking; Helpful pointers; The nature of guiding; The experience of seeing. Conclusions supporting the development of an anatta-based model of psychotherapy are: management of the therapeutic alliance and compassion fatigue; working with defence mechanisms and transference dynamics; challenging clients’ beliefs and the risk to mental health; paying attention to spiritual materialism and spiritual bypassing. Limitations to the research are discussed and suggestions for further research are made.

This study is an interpretative phenomenological analysis of eight participants who attended an Anthony Robbins Unleash the Power Within seminar and explores their experiences of transformation. Themes in the participants’ accounts, such as a changed sense of self and developing new skills, were identified and examined using the concepts of conversion, peak experiences, flow and quantum change. The research concludes that these experiences produced significant, valued and enduring changes, and suggests that UPW should be considered a significant transpersonal event. Further research is proposed, especially around the underlying phenomena common to these kinds of experiences, in order to understand their place in the field of personality and behaviour change.

Drawing from the participants and personal experience, I explore the extent to which Martial Arts can be a transformative and spiritual journey. The emergence of new different styles creates a fine line between external and internal martial arts, some of which intertwine with one another. Most internal Martial Arts practice illustrates the body, mind and soul as intimately related with each other and with the cosmos, making the journey seen as a whole. The research project makes use of a heuristic inquiry – a process of internal search developed by Moustakas. In understanding the meaning of Martial Arts practice in others, I arrive at a deeper understanding of my practice and its relationship with my whole experience. Such an understanding, brings to light the intertwined concepts of intention, awareness and attitude as necessary paths in one’s transformative and spiritual journey. These new paths are a significant departure from one’s attachment to limited notions of who one really is, to a realisation of one’s larger nature. The whole heuristic process includes the findings as well as my ambitions, hopes and new visions which will be expressed at the end in a creative thoughtful way.

The aim of this study is to explore the transpersonal in contemplating retirement, as it impacted on a small group of female co-researchers and myself. Needing an approach that would allow for deep self-exploration a heuristic study was chosen. Data was collected from my journal, which contained reflections, poems, song lyrics, music, articles and drawings. Further data was collected from my five co-researchers using dialogue based interviews. All co-researchers were aged between fifty-five and sixty-five and who, like me were actively, or recently, engaged in professional careers, in either psychotherapy or social work. Data was analysed using an adapted form of thematic analysis and two major transpersonal themes emerged: confronting mortality and, seeking authenticity and growth. Findings suggest that we cannot have the second without acknowledging the first and there is clearly a desire to burgeon and a belief that this is possible during this next phase of life. Identified subordinate themes demonstrate how we are managing this dilemma and find a place for ourselves in the future. Findings show an increasing sense of spiritual connection with others and with nature, a desire to remain visible and use our skills and expertise, as well as explore new avenues and rediscover forgotten or latent parts of us, whilst managing the knowledge of mortality. Findings suggest we do this by holding two different concepts of time, seeking meaning and acknowledging the spiritual dimension in our lives. The findings are critically discussed in relation to relevant literature. Finally the limitations of this study are explored and ideas for future research identified.

The purpose of this intuitive inquiry has been to examine the acts of self harm by cutting and the writing and voicing of expressive poetry. Having personal experience of these two areas, I had noticed commonalities within the experience of both. This piece of work was designed to explore the unique features and dynamics inherent in each act and look into any commonalities in experience and effects, as well as the functions they may serve for the individual partaking in these activities. The qualitative method of intuitive inquiry was followed (Anderson, 2011; 2014). As researcher, this approach heavily involved myself, as I immersed myself within the research process. I felt the strong need to talk to and involve other people in the research to gain furtherinsights and perspectives. Twenty three participants were recruited (completed and returned questionnaires) in total, fifteen who self harmed and eight who wrote poetry at times of unmanageable emotions. Their experiences, stories and insights provided a richness of material and an external anchor for me. I feel there is an inherent fear and lack of insight into self harm, and also fear surrounding writing. I felt the need to give these individuals a voice. Parallels between self harming and writing during times of overwhelming emotion have been observed, as has the importance of the point at which the two activities have been seen to part company. The processing stage, where healing becomes possible.

The aim of this study was to investigate how interconnectedness can foster creativity and intuition in the workplace. A combination of two qualitative research methods was used: intuitive inquiry (Anderson, 2011) and heuristic research (Moustakas, 1990). Six participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview protocol. Using the heuristic method, an immersion and incubation process was used to produce individual portraits of the participants’ experiences. A number of factors were found to contribute to interconnectedness fostering creativity and intuition. These were learning /self-development, a sense of purpose, caring and kindness, trust, motivation, confidence, passion, and listening skills. The data indicated that in addition to interconnectedness fostering creativity and intuition, creativity can foster interconnectedness and intuition can foster creativity. Interconnectedness could potentially affect factors such as stress in the workplace, health and wellbeing, and corporate culture and this warrants further investigation.

This dissertation documents research in “peripheral awareness”, the phenomena thereof and its effects in terms of stress resilience, burnout prevention and psychological health. Peripheral awareness is a particular mode of perception with an accompanying physiological state that is claimed to promote wholesome virtues. This broad, multi-positional and inclusive perception can be established through various means, depending on individual sensory mode preferences and the context in which it is applied. A mixed methods approach was used in this study in order to investigate the effectiveness of peripheral awareness in regard to stress and burnout. The qualitative aspect of this research, involving Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), was of most prevalence. It was utilized to explore the phenomenology associated with peripheral awareness. The methodology also included a quantitative method that involved measuring the participants´ level of burnout before a 24 day intervention and then compared this with their burnout levels after the intervention. A preliminary result of this research indicates that peripheral awareness can be compared to mindfulness, as well as to what some scholars have referred to as bodyfulness (Ferrer, 2008 & Caldwell, 2014). The overall outcome of this research suggests that peripheral awareness may be a useful approach to enhance mindfulness and improve well-being, while helping one to deal with stress resourcefully, which in turn may help to prevent and treat burnout. This conclusion is supported by the literature that is referred to in this report, covering how distress and the onset of burnout may be associated with tunnel awareness (which peripheral awareness was found to counteract). Five distinct areas of future researches concerning peripheral awareness are proposed.

This study, examines different kinds of loss that can lead to individual experiences of change, which could be termed transpersonal. A qualitative method of heuristic inquiry (Moustakas, 1990) was chosen to explore the nature of this phenomenon. The main focus of this study is to look at specific loss in the everyday, such as loss of job, community, partner or country. The participants taking part in this research project, found that friendship, camaraderie, humour, and a relationship to the environment, played a part in connecting to their inner spirituality. In acknowledging this connection, there becomes a recognition that loss and grief, is not only a pathology to be healed, but has the potential to be a gateway for inner development. This study revealed that change did happen to all participants, and influenced how they saw the world, after directly participating in their loss. Where attention was paid to the somatic senses, a doorway opened for deeply held emotions to be healed. This suggests, that there is indeed movement from loss to a greater awareness of self, no matter how small a step. I put forward the notion, that the transpersonal face of loss within this study can be seen, to be held within this small step.

Recent statistics have shown that stress is having a hugely negative impact upon the psychological health and retention of teachers within the current educational system. Despite this however, teacher training does not currently involve any form of psychological preparation to help teachers cope with the demands of the nation’s most stressful occupation. With this in mind an 8-week MBSR programme was delivered to a group of nine teachers at The Sixth Form College Birkenhead, with participants being assessed at pre, mid and post-intervention as well as at three month follow up in terms of their self-reported stress, depression and anxiety levels, emotional regulation, mindfulness and overall attention. Findings showed significant reductions in both immediate and sustained levels of anxiety, as well as significant improvements in both immediate and sustained levels of mindfulness, and emotional regulation, in comparison to a wait-list control group of nine teachers who did not receive the intervention. Although no significance was found for any of the other assessed quantitative measures in the study, small incremental effects could still be observed at each of the four time intervals for some measures in the intervention compared to the control group, therefore suggesting that MBSR may be one intervention modality that has the potential for systematic implementation as part of teachers professional development so as to provide them with the psychological preparation and training to manage the pressures that their day to day job as educators requires of them.

Acting involves complex psychological processes. Performing artists often connect with varying degrees to the characters they portray, and the relationship between actor and character can be transformative and lasting. The dynamics involved in processes of identification and disidentification for actors have not been widely researched and documented, and begs further inquiry for both for the actor’s understanding as well as those who work with actors. Intrigued by processes of identification and disidentification, I set out to map these processes. By referencing existing literature from influential theatre figures such as Stanislavsky and Grotowski, and psychological literature that looks at identity aspects in performing artists, I was able to compare these views with the data I collected from a group of performing artists. By making use of Grounded Theory (Corbin & Strauss, 1990), I analysed the data. The first and second round of interviews saw students from the Tshwane University of Technology Drama Department engage with various questions to get to the underlying issues of identification and disidentification. Transpersonal exercises were also introduced to map these experiences against the academic literature, and a third round of interviews was introduced, seeking to clarify concepts from the initial analysis. It appears there are distinct processes of identification of the self-concept that take place in performing artists, especially in instances where they are required to deliver emotional challenging characters or performances. These experiences can be recognised by their transformational and lasting effect on the actor. Aspects of identification were observed primarily in four areas: identification of the actor with the character; identification of the actor with the audience; identification of the actor with the ensemble; and finally identification of the actor with the superconscious. These areas can also overlap or sometimes take place simultaneously. For the purpose of this study processes of identification and disidentification were mapped and evaluated against how they impact the actor’s ability to deliver a compelling and authentic performance.

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Visual Map of the MSc PROGRAMME

Year 1
7503ALEFTP Learning Through Integrative Practice (20 Credits)
7501ALEFTP Approaches to Consciousness (20 Credits)
7502ALEFTP Spiritual Psychology (20 Credits)
Year 2
7504ALEFTP Transpersonal psychology (20 Credits)
7506ALEFTP Research Design (20 Credits)
7505ALEFTP Applied Transformative Psychology (20 Credits)
Year 3
7503ALEFTP Learning Through Integrative Practice (20 Credits)










Visual Map of the MSc PROGRAMME

7503ALEFTP Learning Through Integrative Practice (20 Credits)
7501ALEFTP Approaches to Consciousness (20 Credits)
7502ALEFTP Spiritual Psychology (20 Credits)
+ Two Specialist Options
7504ALEFTP Transpersonal psychology (20 Credits)
7506ALEFTP Research Design (20 Credits)
7505ALEFTP Applied Transformative Psychology (20 Credits) + Two Specialist Options
7500ALEFTP Research Dissertation (60 Credits)
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