Coming back to yourself – identity and spirit

russian forest in autumn

As a psychotherapist and a transpersonal approach practitioner the aim of my work with clients is to facilitate making ‘whole’ and help clients get back to themselves, get back ‘home’.

This time of year brings me closer to my roots, to my ancestors of birth and land. I begin communicating with and seeing them more clearly. My food changes according to how they had eaten and I occupy myself with activities, music, books that had been familiar to them. Most of those traditions are closely woven with nature cycles, seasons. My home and people carry nature in their blood. It is as natural to us as mother’s milk. All traditions and customs that we undertake every season is never questioned by anyone. They are observed in a way that flows very naturally between generations, genders and ages. There is this common knowing, understanding and love of nature. We are in a very close relationship with all things nature. Spirit, emotions, intellect and physical sensations can all be linked to our expression through a relationship with nature. There are references to it in literature, poetry, music and language is filled with a variety of descriptions of moods, changes and emotion-evocative experiences. Nature is a living breathing being for my ancestors and myself.

What happened to me five years ago was a shift, a push towards ‘home’, back to myself. I needed to get back to my roots from which I also needed to cut off for some time in order to survive and fit in. I had to start a process of remembering, re-integration, re-igniting of my knowledge, resonance and love of what roots and home meant for me. This journey also connected me to the land that I currently live on and through finding striking similarities in the landscape and the emotions that it evoked in me, that remembering of ‘home’ journey became very rich and fulfilling. The process happened with nature spirit flowing through me at all times. I connected to my roots through learning and remembering about trees, weather patterns, the elements, magic, plants, my love for certain things in nature and remembering and connecting who I was then and who I am now in terms of what spirit lives within me.

I am writing this after watching a wonderful presentation on ‘Identity and spirituality’ as part of my CPD and it reminded me of my own process of connecting with my roots and establishing a solid knowing and understanding who I am now through who I was then and the process of becoming and evolving. It is the process of finding what is at the centre of my being.

In my practice I feel passionate about working with both issues, identity and spirituality, and both are closely linked in making ‘whole’.

It opens up discussion about your beliefs on whether we are spiritual beings having an experience on Earth or are we human beings with a spiritual nature. It might mean the same to some, to others there are clear differences. It would depend on your own personal experiences regarding spirit and beliefs about life on earth and afterlife. To me, spirit is an integral part of who we are along with our other aspects or functions, cognitive, emotional, physical and all operate together and ideally harmoniously. However, where there is a lack of presence or distorting in operation in one or more of these functions then a ‘whole’ is disturbed. For example, a person struggles to express their emotions or their thoughts are distorted or they manifest their difficulties rooted in the mind or heart through the body or their spirit is asleep or remains unreachable or unknown. In my work as a transpersonal therapist I aim to bring a person into balance, and to get all functions/aspects operating together and in harmony.

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When pain finds a home within your soul

painful emotions

In psychological circles this is referred to as pain addiction. This is real, lived experience for many. It is a state of being where separating pain from anything that we encounter in life becomes impossible. It merges with our being in a way that becomes familiar, safe, even sweet and impossible to imagine not feeling it. It becomes one of the personal signature of an individual, which brings all sorts of distortions with it. The process of unravelling is needed, deep diving into dark places, but mostly reintroduction of the light into a personal experience, as the light often goes into a personal shadow.

This is what it looks like when I tap into that part of myself still present although it no longer affects my life in ways it used to. It is now fully in my awareness and I know this character well, hence able to communicate with it and meet its needs if and when.

Ugly, dripping poison from its finger tips, so wrapped in its own pain it is second nature. This creature outgrown the most excruciating suffering that it feels at home with it, it’s learnt not just to be with it, it is inseparable from her being. It is very old, with bent and crooked limbs, long nails and grey hair or is it fur – both. It is animal-like with human eyes and deep intelligence. There is kindness somewhere there, but it is not apparent. It wants to be bad, it thinks it is a good thing, as it will fill up the cup of pain even more. It seeks the ritual and any opportunity to refill it. Like an addict it is constantly in search of the next fix.

Grown into my flesh it wears deer-skins and smells of wet mud and berries. Like an animal it claws into me holding on with a scowl scary and disturbing. 

I know it well and these days all that is needed of me is the acknowledgement it is there when I begin to feel its warm breath on the back of my neck. It is often present around my shoulder/neck area. It is very warm, sometimes feeling like a burn, but it also shows me some compassion these days and often sweeps away mud and moss pieces when it feels it made a mess. It is a child and an old creature all at the same time. It is deeply broken, but not unlovable and it likes to spread itself on rocks (I love rocks) and roll off them into a wet grass.

I often work with clients in ways of looking at different parts of them. I would ask when they begin to describe an energy that takes over them and affects their life. I seek to bring it to life with my client in a way of seeing what it looks like, what it sounds like and what is its behaviour before moving to what that part of us need. Many find this very useful and become curious about what else is within them that affects their everyday behaviour. When we make those characters real it is easier to relate whether we choose an object representing it, or we do a drawing or find a drawing that most reminds us of them or we relate to them through colours, sounds. However we connect with parts of ourselves it is about becoming conscious/aware of what takes place within our psyches and why.

The journey of psychotherapy

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I would describe the process of psychotherapy as a process of unfolding and becoming. It is a journey back ‘home to ourselves’. Therapist is a witness to that process, who is let into a world of a client to journey with and who serves a purpose of ‘being with’ another human being and reflecting empathy, acceptance and unconditional love. If that witnessing is successful a client slowly learns to be with themselves, get to know themselves and hence allowing the process of unfolding from unconscious to conscious begin.

When therapy ends one would hope that a seed of self-love, acceptance, compassion and understanding is planted so a person can go out into the world more confident in being with themselves, knowing their inner potential and being able to relate to the world and others in a more effective and beneficial way. They become their own witness. With awareness of themselves they go on to live in a more mindful and compassionate manner towards themselves and others. They would have discovered their qualities, strengths and weakness, darkness and light, become more emotionally intelligent and able to navigate the ups and downs of life with wisdom and acceptance.

The end of my own therapy after many years even though planned and conscious will take some adjustment. It’s been a routine and a weekly visit to my therapist provided me with witnessing and holding I found nourishing and supportive. An environment in which to process my feelings and experiences and grow. I now have a free slot on a Tuesday afternoon and what I am inspired to do is to create a process of my own where for that hour I will be with myself to witness what unfolds within and manifests without and reflect of my responses and ways to grow from experiences.

From that I will begin writing a ‘weekly insight’ blog posts as I continue on my journey of self-discovery.

Transpersonal Integrative psychotherapist and Intuitive witch

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What are the similarities between two parts within me, which are at play simultaneously. These two occupations, let’s call it that, have a lot more in common than one might think. I have experienced again and again the alignment between the two and it makes complete sense and feels whole.

At the centre of my work is intuition. It is my guiding, navigational, feeling system that allows me to relate and understand the other on a deeper level. Energies go through me and reflect back to whoever is sitting with me whatever I might be working with and it is that ‘going through me’ technique allows me to know what the other might need and benefit from.

Intuition is also used in ‘magical’ workings and 90% of my magic/spiritual work is intuitive, always has been from the very beginning as I stepped on the nature-based spiritual path. It is an exciting journey and I never once doubted what I do or did was somewhat ‘incorrect’, if I can call it that. There is not often right or wrong there is only better or poorer adjustments of what’s available. Some work can be intense and alignment is stronger and in other cases it is less so and effects are subtler. Intuition is something to be trusted and be open to and I am completely and utterly in its power knowing it will lead me where I need to go. It offers a well of possibilities of your own self-knowledge. All the treasure is already within us and one way to access that treasure is through intuition and listening to your inner voice of wisdom.

As an Integrative transpersonal psychotherapist I use myself and my intuition to decide and most of the time know what’s needed, when, how and for who. I pick techniques, approaches and a line to follow from my collection of tools, knowledge and experience through listening to the other’s story and working cognitively, emotionally, spiritually, using my body and being aware of the energy. I use my whole self to inform me of a direction and certain needs of a client. It is deeply relational, on a soul level, one might say, when myself and the other operate as one, as two humans on a journey of discovery. I work as a guide, support system, safe space and a container for the other while they go through a process of transformation. There is no judgement and we embrace an open heart, unconditional love and acceptance.

Magic is involved in psychotherapeutic work. There are often moments of connection and insight in a therapy room, which feel truly magical. Many of my colleagues would agree. It is the same in my work with the elements and nature, talking to trees, creating rituals and spells, working with deities. Magic in both contexts mean moments of divine connection when forces align and energies peak/flow in a certain way  that manifestation/transformation is possible. Results occur as a consequence of a way of working that is deeply spiritual and earthly at the same time. It is rooted in love and relating through the heart.

I am truly appreciative of how parts of myself align into one purpose whether I am being a therapist or a nature adventurer, ritual creator or a spiritual guide. It feels incredibly rich and immensely fulfilling. I can find magic all around me and I look forward to continuing my work with intuition as my guiding force and constant companion.

treasures within

Spring, Gold, Transformation

alchemy of transformation

It has been all about the Gold lately, which signifies a special phase of another transformational cycle we are entering into. It can manifest as a new job, a relocation, a completion of a project or a union of some kind. These are fairly general and it can be looked at deeper depending on your personal experience.

Gold is associated with treasure, potential, the energy of the Sun, a harvest of some sort and most importantly the final stage of transformation and coming into your own and shining to its full potential. Perhaps, some or all of these might relate to where you are currently on your journey.

For me gold came in a dream first when I was offered a chalice filled with golden liquid. I drank it and experienced feelings of ecstasy, freedom and serenity like no other. It was a very warming and pleasant sensation in the body and my mind was enveloped in thoughts of contentment, containment and comfort in the present moment.

I feel the season of spring, for me this year, is presentation differently and transforming into something entirely new. This was my intention for this work to occur, as through the years I had noticed a certain pattern, which would play out year after year, so when I paid conscious attention to it and unpicked it apart with the intention to heal I made a decision to work on transforming it with the next year. That time is now. I am already experiencing this season differently. Firstly I have welcomed spring with an open heart this year and I anticipated its arrival more eagerly than ever before. Previous spring had been a sad time for me, a paradox and a split, which presented as a wonderful season on the outside, yet my internal world would be in turmoil. A dissonance was always present.

Only last night standing outside I was acutely aware of just how pleased I am to see the spring this year and this time it wasn’t just words, thoughts. It was a strong felt sense in my body. I feel in love with the world and everything in it. My work is potent with love and care and joy to be in the presence of the human spirit resilient and vulnerable. I am so engaged with it all at the moment and drinking up its rewards and pleasures.

So, for me ‘gold’ is manifesting in that sense of having arrived somewhere new and truly transformed after challenging and dark times. Moving through the alchemical process of transformation, which begins in the dark place and engaging with functions of clarifying things through passion, fire, water and tears till we reach a place of purity and whiteness and feeling we have joined some dots, things began to make sense slowly till we landed with knowledge and insight to embrace where we came from and where we are now. There is a sense of balance also between the forces of the mind and compassion of the heart. At Spring equinox, in particular, it felt solid and in place when I sat with my past on my left and my future to my right, but solidly present in the moment facing what is here and now. A sense of achievement in the present moment and all the potential still waiting ahead. It is the perfect place of here and now. I am holding that golden chalice in my lap and I am overflowing with happiness and there is nothing that can’t be achieved.

Working with anxiety in a creative way

transforming anxiety

We have many parts within us. Our personality consists of many different qualities. Some parts are at play more actively than others, but that is not to say that if we display, e.g. unemotional behaviour or aggressive ways of interacting, we are devoid of empathy and sensitivity. We simply behave in a certain way because we learnt that behaviour in order to feel safe, survive or be liked. We engage with a certain way of being to gain something. Very often behaviour is based on how we think about something, or rather learnt to think. It might or might not be true. Therapeutic relationship is there not only to try and redefine how one thinks, but also through a relationship look at patterns of behaviour.

From a Transpersonal psychology perspective and my strong belief we are all ‘Whole’ essentially, however through life experiences parts of us get distorted, lost, hidden or rejected. I always say to clients that there is nothing ever wrong with a person/them, it is only that parts of them got a bit lost, broken or distorted depending on what they are experiencing. All of the person is accepted and perceived as a whole. We never want to abandon, reject or try and get rid of anything within us however uncomfortable it feels or negative it appears. Those parts more than anything need our love and attention and the work is to heal those parts by paying attention, listening, engaging with full acceptance and compassion and collect them back into the whole.

Working with anxiety this week the same idea of wholeness underpinned a creative activity where two parts were engaged in a cycle of behaviour deemed as negative and titled as anxiety, which then followed by a panic attack, shame and feeling down. There was a sense of powerlessness about it yet when a client drew a picture of the place where the unpleasant feeling would initially often surface it looked a beautiful golden ball of light, similar to the Sun. When they drew the second image that followed the initial feeling (the image of the Sun) that looked controlling and negative. The sun looked weakened in comparison when it is the Sun that is the place of potential, strength, security and place of belonging. Solar plexus (where the Sun resides) area is our power house, potential and security, our identity in the world.

I asked my client to add something to the image of the Sun to ‘make it feel better’. What did it need to feel less vulnerable, as the client described it, so a more empowering dialogue was possible between my client and the Sun when the feeling came up? They drew a blue circle around it – emotions, safety, and container, a part of the client weakened and abandoned to the mercy of the fierce image above it. It was easy for the other image to control the Sun. The work was to empower the Sun and transform a relationship with it from negative and weak to positively energizing and heart felt.

Using drawings with anxious clients can disengage the mind, which often tells us what we need to do and why and it can feel controlling. We learn to succumb to the mind and create an automatic way of thinking about things, so there is only one route that is available disregarding all the other possibilities. When we quieten the mind and engage with our bodies, where all our emotions live, we witness something much deeper, parts of ourselves that need our attention. Feelings often come up and connect us back to ourselves.

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