It is advisable at the beginning of the day to do what may be called the “psychological toilet”, the cleansing of the dross from the unconscious
By Roberto Assagioli, 1967, From the Assagioli Archive in Florence, Doc.# 24002. Original Title: Panorama del Vivere Psicologico. Translated and Edited with Notes by Jan Kuniholm
This lecture, the last of the Course [for 1967], will be programmatic in nature and, of course . . . synthetic.  I propose to outline the panorama or overview of a “psychological way of living;” this is not utopian: it is already being implemented by some people to an extent, and there is a tendency to do so more and more, as knowledge and appreciation of psychology and its applications grow, until it will be regarded as the condition of truly “human” living. In a general sense it can be said to consist in applying the principles, methods and exercises taught by psychosynthesis in every situation and on every occasion of daily life.
As a guide and stimulus to do so, I will recall its main applications, framing them in the cycle of a single day.
The first and important “psychological action,” on which the performance of the whole day may depend, must be taken at the moment of awakening. This is often gradual: we awaken fractionally, re-entering the world of so-called external reality little by little — and sometimes reluctantly. But we can, by an act of will, hasten and make the awakening more complete, indeed we can experience a double-awakening: that from sleep to normal or habitual waking consciousness, and then the awakening of clear self-consciousness, that is, self-awareness; of one’s self, free and independent of any “content” or psychic element: physical sensations, emotions, or mental activities. It is an internal act of disidentification and self-identification, made possible, or facilitated, by the training done previously through the corresponding exercises.
In this regard, however, it must be kept in mind that there are two distinctly different, indeed opposite, bio-psychic types [of people]: the morning type and the evening type. Those belonging to the first type feel rested, mentally “awake” and ready to act in the morning, while at the end of the day they are tired, psychically passive and “dull,” reluctant to make any effort or application. Those of the second type, on the other hand, have a slow, hard awakening; they feel depressed, listless, “hazy,” and only as the day progresses do they “find themselves,” so to speak; while in the evening (sometimes after a brief period of fatigue) they feel clear-headed, euphoric, willing and able to perform an intense activity, often late into the night. These are constitutional types, which must be recognized, but [their effects] can be corrected to some extent, especially with regard to morning depression.
For everyone — and all the more so for those who have a difficult awakening — it is advisable at the beginning of the day to do what may be called the “psychological toilet:” the cleansing of the dross from the unconscious; a “psychospiritual bath” analogous to the physical one, and which indeed can be appropriately connected with it. In general, it is useful to associate physical acts with psychological and spiritual actions. It can be said that all of us live in a “materialistic” way practically, even if we are not materialistic out of conviction; that is, we live a material world and physical sensations tend continually to enter our consciousness. But if we associate physical activities with psychic and spiritual ones, of which they can become symbols and external manifestations, instead of being a hindrance they can be a reminder and a help.
This can be applied well with regard to ablutions or the morning bath. Ablutions can represent aspects and be symbols of purification and renewal.
- Purification. This is a purification from the dross — from the psychic, emotional and mental debris that emerges into consciousness from the unconscious, for during sleep the unconscious has had a “green light” and has functioned without controls or restrictions. However, unconscious psychic activities are manifold and take place at various levels, and the aforementioned purification concerns only those of the lower unconscious, which produce the emotional depression and the state of fogginess and scatteredness that many have upon awakening. But psychic activities also take place at the middle and higher levels during sleep.
These activities of the unconscious can manifest themselves in the form of dreams, which are, correspondingly, of a very varied nature. Most of them have no special meaning; they are sometimes ingenious dramatizations of physiological states; others are more or less disordered and distorted recollections of the impressions and activities of the previous day. But there are some which, due to their structure and consistency, represent the symbolic expression of latent psychic conditions or tendencies. Some of them can be regarded as “messages” from the higher sphere of the unconscious, from the “superconscious.” While other kinds of dreams do not deserve attention, these should be taken into consideration: one should try to interpret them and grasp the messages they bear. Other useful emergences and messages from the middle and higher unconscious are the results of processing psychological activities of the previous day or days. They may be solutions to problems we have been dealing with, or enlightening insights into personal matters; it is good to take them into account and mark them down in writing.
- Renewal. The resumption of [waking] activities, the first of which may be ablutions, consists in realizing that each day is new, that we can and should free ourselves from the past and its conditioning and begin the day (as Keyserling says) “as if we had been born then.” In India, a king had the motto “Renew yourself continually, do it again and again and again” put in his bathroom. This, in psychological terms, can be called the activation, the awakening of latent energies, of the plastic, new, unimpressed unconscious.
Ablutions may be associated with or followed by light physical exercises or gymnastics, which, while they produce bio-psychic reactivation, also constitute an exercise of the will (I spoke of this in the lecture on The Strong Will in the 1963 Course – Lecture 7, p. 7). I repeat the advice to use the method that J. Müller set forth in his books, “My System” and “My System for Women.” It is an easy and simple method that has several advantages.
Another effective and pleasing means of facilitating awakening, renewal and “getting in motion” is that of music. Pythagoras in his Institute in Crotone used to have his students awakened by a group of players passing by; now one can avail oneself of modern means, such as recordings and other media that allow us to choose music and even songs suitable for arousing the most opportune and favorable states of mind, which are different according to the individual constitution and needs (I will limit myself to suggesting “The Good Mood Waltz”).
Also very useful is the use of words, phrases, and excerpts from poems that have a stimulating and arousing effect. Here too the choice is very wide and each person can make it according to his or her individual tendencies and tastes; several have been indicated in lectures of previous Courses. Here I will recall only a passage from the poem The Poet by Carducci:
Ere the twitter of birds gives warning
Of glad morning
On the hill hath he descended,
And with roaring bellows wakes the
Flame that makes the
Forge, whereas he labors, splendid.
The form is nineteenth-century and some may not like it, but for those to whom this does not pose an obstacle it may be a good ‘reminder’.
The use of these means takes little time and can be found if one really wants to, for example by lying down a little earlier in the evening and then getting up a little earlier in the morning.
- Meditation. This is a very effective means and can be initiated and facilitated by a short psychospiritual reading.
- The Disidentification and identification exercise. This is the best method of acquiring clear self-awareness and preparing for the day’s activities “from above,” so to speak, by assuming the position of the Observer and Director of all activities; this is the specific task of the will. The “Rose” exercise can also serve this purpose well.
The meditation and exercises mentioned above are based on a general principle that we should always keep in mind: Every “effective and creative action” develops from the top to the bottom and from the inside to the outside; that is, from the highest point we can reach internally. Every activity is first prepared within us, albeit unconsciously, through thought and imagination — and we can use them in an increasingly conscious and deliberate way.
All this constitutes general preparation, but more specific preparation can be done, and is very useful, too; that is, a planning and structuring of the day, the choice of activities to be done and the use of available time. Many people, especially those with work commitments, have little free time to use, but it is all the more appropriate to make good use of it. It is often wasted in unnecessary ways, in distracting and tiring activities or entertainments, especially on parties and vacations. (I spoke on the good psychospiritual use of vacations in last year’s Tenth Lesson of 1966).
In any case, one can do an exercise in “imaginative foresight” for the day. Prof. Cirinei told us about an exercise he does: that of imagining in advance leaving home in the morning, and the various things he will see on his way to school. This can be extended to the whole day, not so much by minutely predicting hour by hour, but by imagining the most important activities to be accomplished. Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations recommends a real exercise in foresight and high spiritual preparation:
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own — not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him.
This “imaginative foresight” is particularly useful — in some cases I would say almost necessary, when difficult and worrying or fearful activities are before us: for example, examinations, challenging interviews, confrontations, or the like. These foresight and preparation exercises can be done the night before by those who are of the “evening type.”
The course of daily life from morning to evening then offers continuous opportunities to do psychological exercises, and we should welcome these occasions. In this way every situation, even unpleasant or adverse ones, can be used for our psychosynthesis. The psychological exercises that we have described or done here during the various years of the Institute’s activity can be used appropriately, with possible adaptations. For example, going to school or office or even simply to the market, one can do observational exercises. Lingering for a few minutes in front of a shop window, looking carefully at what is displayed there and then trying to remember it exactly.
Relaxation exercises are particularly good. This is an almost necessary measure for physical hygiene in modern life. When one has learned, with proper training, to relax with fairly prolonged exercises, one can then do some short ones during the day; there are some people who can unwind in ten or fifteen minutes of relaxation as much as they would in a few hours of sleep.
Another exercise that has great utility, both psychologically and physically, is to eat slowly, chewing well, and above all in a state of mental calmness, putting aside extraneous worries and thoughts, whether in silence or in serene conversation with others. It is also good to turn your attention to taste, to savoring various foods with pleasure; this has a beneficial physiological effect as well, activating salivary and gastric secretions. In contrast, it is contraindicated to watch television or listen to the radio while eating, since the programs abound with news or images likely to arouse negative emotions. On the contrary, it would be beneficial, as was often done in the past, to listen to happy, serenading music during meals. Now record players make it easy to do this, allowing each person to choose the music he or she likes best.
Also very suitable are the exercises to evoke a given quality we wish to develop in ourselves. They can be done by taking the serenity exercise as a model. 
Reading the newspaper can also become an opportunity for psychological exercises, and particularly for exercising the will, by not dwelling on reading all the negative news that fills its pages. Descriptions of crimes, trials, etc., as well as many other readings (one could say the greatest part of contemporary literature!) are real psychological poisons.
One exercise that one often has the opportunity to practice is “the art of waiting,” while waiting in offices and antechambers, or while waiting for public transport. We generally wait in a “tense,” impatient manner, with a sense of growing irritation or boredom. Instead, we can train ourselves to wait in a relaxed, calm, patient, serene way. As an example and encouragement, I will mention what Dr. Jack Cooper (who successfully uses therapeutic psychosynthesis) did in New York. He once had to wait for forty-five minutes for a bus (things that happen even in New York — let’s console ourselves!), on a wet, cold day. He took the opportunity to do the serenity exercise, managing to remain not only patient, but truly serene, while next to him was a man who was agitated and cursing, angry and exasperated. Seeing him helped — by contrast! — Dr. Cooper to stay calm, and the satisfaction he got from the success of the exercise more than compensated him for the wait.
The many interpersonal relationships throughout the day, whether in the family or in the fields of our activity in the world, provide opportunities for numerous and not easy psychological exercises to avoid and mitigate conflicts and to establish or maintain good human relationships. I cannot give examples, but everyone will be able to understand how to do so.
Let us come to the evening. Those who are too tired or cannot function in the evening need not make the effort; however, they can transfer to the next morning some of what I am about to say for the evening types. First, the review of the day. It could be called the “psycho-spiritual review” of experiences, things learned, and the consequent resolutions for corrections or improvements for the future. This review of the day is very useful, and it is even more useful do it in writing and to write down the conclusions. Then follows a fresh psychological “cleansing.” Many negative impressions have accumulated during the day, and therefore it is good to clean up the conscious and unconscious, to put aside all that was negative and replace it with positive elements. Doing this prepares for a better night and better sleep. You can use the same resources employed in the morning: images, words, phrases, and music.
Finally, if we have some problem to solve, direct the unconscious to work on it during the night. There can be even more: learning during sleep. This has been tried recently with positive results, especially in America, and also in Russia, where it has been adopted for language study: a recording is played back for some time during sleep. It is a method to try, to experiment with.
It might be thought that all this is enough, in fact it is more than enough! In fact, the “way of life” described so far requires a good measure of personal psychosynthesis, and at the same time helps to implement and enhance it, and this constitutes for many people, or up to a certain age, the best they can or want to do. But there are, especially now, a growing number of people for whom this is not a sufficient and fulfilling program and task. They feel, more or less consciously, the need for something different and more essential: the need to understand the real meaning and value of life; the urge to actualize other possibilities latent in them; the yearning to participate in a larger life; the desire to devote themselves to social and humanitarian tasks that transcend personal interests and goals.
In psychological terms all this can be expressed as the exploration and conquest of an “inner space” or sphere of life that transcends normal consciousness, which is superconscious. It is the world of Reality and values that is generally called “spiritual.” Therefore that vast and luminous world must be included in a comprehensive panorama of a way of life that fulfills all needs and makes possible the exploration of all aspects of human existence.
In this connection, it is good to clarify some essential points. The first is that all higher values and all ways of approaching, contacting and uniting with transcendent Reality — and not only “religious” ones in the strict sense — must be considered “spiritual.” They are diverse, and we will indicate the main ones shortly.
The second point is that this sphere of the superconscious and these spiritual experiences can and should become the subject of scientific investigation, in the same way, and no less, than any other aspect of reality, whether physical or psychological. But so far scientists — including those who had not only the right but also the duty to do so, namely psychologists — have ignored that higher world, neglected to investigate it and some have even denied the possibility of doing so!
There were, however, and are a small but growing number of more open-minded scholars, free from materialistic preconceptions, who have begun that investigation. I will mention among the first, William James, with his classic study on The Varieties of Religious Experience, and Dr. Bucke who, after having had a vivid personal experience of enlightenment, expounded and commented on numerous instances of kindred experiences in his book Cosmic Consciousness. Recently, a group of avant-garde psychologists, especially Abraham Maslow, have begun a methodical scientific study of what they call peak experience in normal people, thus laying the foundations for a new “height psychology”(the first results of this were set forth by Maslow in his book Towards a Psychology of Being. 
Moreover, apart from scientific investigations, there is now a widespread growing interest in these possibilities of expansions of consciousness, of supernormal perceptions, of penetrating and exploring larger “inner worlds,” especially among young people. This is often done without method or guidance, in inappropriate or dangerous ways, such as the use of hallucinogens, so there is an urgent need to make known the healthy and effective methods that exist, that have been used in the past and that now — after having been abandoned or neglected — are being revived and developed even in new ways. I cannot speak of them on this occasion, I will only mention that they include the psychosynthetic techniques and exercises that have been presented in our Courses and publications (especially the Disidentification and Self-identification Exercise, the Rose Exercise and the Grail Exercises). These methods differ according to the various aspects and qualities of the higher world that one attempts to explore and to the corresponding “Ways” that lead to them.
The main Ways of the Spirit, or to the Spirit, are:
The Religious-devotional-mystical Way
The Ethical-regenerative Way
The Aesthetic Way
The Way of Humanitarian Social Action and the Heroic Way
The Scientific and Philosophical Way
The Intuitive, Enlightenment Way
The Ritualistic Way
It is good to clarify that these Ways are distinct, and can be walked individually, but they are not separate. Many people connect and unite two or more of them in their search and experience; and above all they converge toward the Higher, so that while at the “base” they may seem even opposite, at the summit they tend to merge into a synthesis, into an integral experience.
Those who feel the call from Above and the urge to leave the plain of ordinary life with its dark recesses and swampy shallows may well “make room” in their day for psychospiritual ascents. It is not easy to do this in modern life, in which everything tends to exteriorize and even lower people, but it can be done by those who feel the inner need for it, and really want it.
This constitutes the crowning, the highest peak of psychological living.
 The ellipsis was in the original transcription and indicates a pause in the spoken lecture. —Ed.
 For Americans this may make more sense if we call it a “psychospiritual shower,” that being the prevalent means of morning all-over washing in that country. —Ed.
 Hermann Keyserling (1880-1946). Baltic German philosopher from whose work Assagioli quoted liberally over the years. —Ed.
 Plastic: “capable of being molded or of receiving form.” —Ed.
 Jørgen Peter Müller (1866-1938) was a Danish gymnastics instructor and creator of a well-known system of physical education, whose My System was published in 1904 and translated into 24 languages, including English. It is still available.—Ed.
 Pythagoras (c. 570-495 BC) was a Greek philosopher and religious and political teacher, who founded a school in Croton, or Crotone, in southern Italy around 530 BC. —Ed.
 Il Valzer del buon umore composed in 1941 by Carlo Buti, who was called “The Golden Voice of Italy.” —Ed.
 Giosuè Carducci (1835-1907) was an Italian poet, writer, critic and teacher, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1906. —Ed.
 In previous verses the poet has been likened to a blacksmith. Translation taken from Carducci: A Selection of his Poems, with Verse Translations etc. by G.L.Bickersteth, M.A. (Christ Church Oxford), Longmans, Green and Co. New York, London, 1913. (Google Books)—Tr.
 “The Exercise of the Blossoming of the Rose” can be found in Chapter V of Assagioli’s book Psychosynthesis. —Ed.
 Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180), Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. This quotation is from Meditations 2.1, Translated by Gregory Hays. —Tr.
 “The Exercise for Evoking Serenity” can be found in Chapter V of Assagioli’s book Psychosynthesis. —Ed.
 Jack Cooper, M.D., clinical psychiatrist who was from 1968 to 1976 President of the Board of Directors of the Psychosynthesis Research Foundation in New York, where he was an occasional speaker at the PRF Psychosynthesis Seminars. —Ed.
 Varieties of Religious Experience by William James was originally given as a series of Gifford Lectures on natural theology at the University of Edinburgh in 1901-1902 and published by Longmans, Green and Co. in 1902. Newer editions are available. —Ed.
 Cosmic Consciousness by R. M. Bucke was first published by E.P. Dutton and Co. in 1901. Newer editions are available. —Ed.
 Toward a Psychology of Being by A.H. Maslow was first published by D.Van Nostrand in 1962. Newer editions are available. —Ed.