Church of Tzaddi

Experiencing the infinite, loving, co-creative presence of the Divine

8. Impressions & Projections Doc Min

Fostering Lesson 8. Impressions & Projections

Summary of skill

  • What gets “in the way” of us being authentic and perceiving others’ authenticity?
  • As mystics who are attuned to psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual vibrations, we must learn to sort out the difference between impressions, which come from those higher energy states, and projections, which come from our own dissociation from vital parts of our experience and being.
  • We do this for our own spiritual integrity and well-being, and, because for healthy group dynamics, we want the group space to be as clear of projections as possible.
  • We must expect that we and others will get “tweaked’ when we encounter someone who stimulates our projections in a group, especially when there is diversity in the group. It’s not realistic to have a “zero projections” goal or something like that. What is realistic is to start to attune ourselves as spiritual leaders to the difference between impressions and projections, and to support people in receiving impressions, and to support people in withdrawing projections.


  • Discussion: Impressions versus projections
    • We live in a network of energy connections in a vast, extended energy field, sometimes called the sea of light.
      • These energy connections can be thought of like a giant spider’s web, a gossamer, living, flexible network of silken threads that vibrate with movement.
      • Each movement is sensed throughout the web. By being attuned to the web, mystics can receive information about people and situations from other places and times. We call this information “impressions” because the vibration of the web’s movement literally makes an impression in a substance known as the Akasha, a kind of medium that records everything that is happening in the universe.
      • Impressions reach our personality via our intuition, which downloads the data from our own higher consciousness, our psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual states of consciousness, and makes it available to the personality, “little” self.
      • Impressions are by nature not rational, not sensible, not tied in to linear thinking, and are “unprovable” except by amassing a “track record” over time of what it is like to receive impressions and how accurate they turn out to be.
    • Projections are also not rational or sensible, and can at first seem as if they are intuitive, but they come from a very different place.
      • “Projection is the act of attributing qualities to others that we deny within ourselves. It is expressed in the way we label others . . . The shift away from projection and labeling provides the basis for defining what we mean by authentic citizenship—which is to hold ourselves accountable for the well-being of the larger community and to choose to own or exercise power rather than defer or delegate it to others.”— Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging, p. 55
    • “We need to have enough stability in order to differentiate our projections from our impressions. An impression is information that comes to us through our intuitive self. A projection is an impression that becomes distorted by our fears and/or desires.”—Wendy Palmer, The Intuitive Body: Aikido as a Clairsentient Practice, p 68
    • Robert Bly, A Little Book on the Human Shadow, pp. 29 – 43, the five stages of retrieving projections
      • We project, and although it may feel good in the moment, we then experience a diminished energy of self
      • Rattling, inconsistency, something does not fit—dawning awareness
      • Calling on moral intelligence to repair the rattle; at this moment, in our desire not to be vulnerable, we often put the mask back on
      • We realize we need to be more honest and accountable; we look inside ourselves and recognize our own diminishment
      • Retrieval: we eat our projection and reintegrate this part of our shadow, regaining our lost vitality and our integrity
  • Partner exercise: Discuss a situation in your spiritual community in which you feel there is some need for sorting out impressions versus projections, while your partner practices Active Compassionate Listening; switch roles

Resources for reflection & discussion

  • Starhawk, The Empowerment Manual,  pp. 103 – 106, ladder of inference
  • Sheila Ryan, Vital Practice, p. 91