In transpersonal psychotherapy images and symbols are utilized to transcend the personal centre, the ‘I’, and experience the primordial energy which connects us all to our origin and to one another. The point of the entire exercise is to evoke and behold transcendental unity, the interconnectedness all nature and humanity and its dependence on the intangible vital life force.
An experience of the inner Self might be facilitated by various abstract symbols–the sun, the lotus, and the rose–in creative visualization. If engaging the exercise individually, he or she should make it a point to familiarize themselves with the chronological phases of the visualization to avoid distractions wrought by pausing. Alternatively, a ‘collective’ variant would require emphatic narration of the phases interpolated by appropriate pauses.
The exercise is expounded below:
Let us imagine a closed rose-bud. Visualize the stem, the leaves and, at the top, the bud itself. It is green in appearance because the sepals are closed; then, at the topmost point there is a pink tip. Try to visualize this as vividly as possible; keep the image at the centre of your conscious mind. As you watch you gradually become aware that movement is taking place: the sepals begin to pull apart as their points turn outwards, enabling you to see the closed pink petals. The sepals move further apart… now see the bud-shaped petals of a beautiful, delicate rose. Then the petals also begin to unfold. The bud continues to expand slowly until the rose is revealed in all its beauty and you are able to admire it with delight.
At this point try to breathe in the scent of the rose and smell its characteristic perfume–delicate, sweet and pleasing to the senses. Take in its scent with pleasure. The symbol of perfume has also been used frequently in religious and mystical language)’the smell of holiness’), as indeed perfumes have been used in rituals (incense, etc.)
Next visualize the whole plant and imagine the force of life rising up from its roots to the flower, producing this development. Pause in awed contemplation of this miracle of nature.
Now identity yourself with the rose, or to be more precise, ‘introject’ the rose into yourself. Symbolically become a flower, a rose. The same life that animates the Universe, that has produced the rose, is producing in you that same, if not a greater, miracle: the development, opening up and the irradiation of your spiritual being. And we have the choice of taking an active part in our own inner flowering.
Exercise from Roberto Assagioli, Transpersonal Development: The Dimension beyond Psychosynthesis (Forres, Scotland: Smiling Wisdom, 2007), pp. 96-97.