SW Overview by Raphael Rod Birney MD & Yahya Suzanna Nadler MEd, LPC
“SoulWork is a marriage of psychology and spirituality that opens pathways to the integration of being. It brings together the three primary levels of consciousness – divine, human , and instinctive — into a cooperative and mutually supportive process whereby our inner life may be realized, manifested and shared.” MJ
SoulWork has both ancient and modern roots and was brought into this current incarnation in the 1980s by Moineddin Jablonski, who was the spiritual leader of a Universalist Sufi lineage. As long as humanity has existed there have been various ways to work with the inner world to bring us into greater balance, open to supra conscious states, to bring more compassion to ourselves and the world. Imaginal practices have existed in almost all spiritual traditions. In modern times Carl Jung developed his entire psychology through his inner imaginative experiences that he documented in the Red book. He called this method of inner work active imagination while the ancient Sufis called this process creative imagination. The medieval mystics differentiated between the vera imaginalis or true imagination and the fanciful daydreams of the so-called monkey mind.
Intention. To prepare for the SoulWork session we focus on the intention, whether talking to a person before an individual session or tuning into the group field of what’s needed to support the unfoldment of all the members. Holding this intention is our activity before beginning a session.
Induction. The first part of a SoulWork session begins with an induction that creates a balanced state in the nervous system through awareness and breath. The inhalation process charges collapsed and frozen inner states and reinvigorates the body. Focusing on the exhalation allows a letting go process wherein hyper aroused states are calmed from their instinctual fight or flight patterns and the body relaxes. When the nervous system is in an energized, relaxed and open state we can engage in a creative relationship with our inner selves and this carries over into our relationships in our outer lives.
Alchemical Vessel. Next an inner gathering or meeting place is formed through focusing on the heart center. This alchemical vessel is an inner holding environment, a place where the various parts, complexes or selves, in the language of SoulWork, can meet. Other names for this gathering place are: the table of holy wisdom, the garden of the heart.
When we work with guided imagery practices it is important to realize that while some people “see” things internally others access through different senses. A self can be experienced through sensations in the body, emotions, reactions, heard as an inner voice, or just known. Eventually the crucial capacity to kinesthetically feel these parts/selves within the body is realized.
Befriending Your Inner Selves. In SoulWork there is a basic template of inner selves with infinite variations and possibilities. Moineddin’s initial template consisted of 1. high self, a supra conscious state, 2. conscious self, awareness, and 3. the basic selves – masculine, feminine and child. We experience different parts of ourselves every night in our dreams. Paul Federn, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, said “I do group therapy with an individual”.
Conscious self is of the utmost importance and is strengthened by the induction’s balanced breath and the formation of the garden of the heart. In SoulWork we bring attention to the curious, compassionate, loving witness that is conscious self. From this place there is no fusion or identification with the child, parents, or ancestors. Conscious self is the conductor of the inner orchestra wherein each part when tuned and in relationship creates the beautiful symphony of an integrated human being.
High Self. After their intention, induction and creating the inner temple in the heart, there is a time of communion, guidance and dialogue with high self. Some people experience this universal energy as an angelic presence, a wise being, or as an animal ally. Conscious self in communion with high self creates an atmosphere wherein each part can be met with love and respect, one of the central principles in SoulWork. In modern psychotherapy research this quality of self acceptance or self compassion has been found to be crucial to the healing process. Overtime we differentiate, befriend and heal each self.
Various Selves. The soul child opens us to embodied innocence, wonder, creativity and joy. The wounded child and shadow parts hold the unwanted, repressed and dissociated feelings and memories. The protectors are adult children who push away the wounded and shadow selves to manage overwhelming feelings. A well known protector is the mental judge or super ego which becomes a place of wise discernment over time.
To move into the 21st-century and honor how each of us has an inner male and female aspect we refer to these as solar and lunar selves. The solar self represents left hemispheric processing, the qualities of doing and analysis. The lunar self holds the capacity for being and synthesis, representing more right hemispheric processing.
Bringing session to closure. At the close of a SoulWork session we bring all the selves that have been gathered into the breath of unity, acknowledging our relatedness and resting in the uniqueness of each. Perhaps bowing to our inner selves.
Integration – Self Reflection & Action. We honor our relationship to this SoulWork by bringing it into form, not letting the dream slip away. This can be done though moving, journaling, drawing, creating art, or silent self reflection. Then we see what actions we can take to bring what we have learned into the outer world of our every day lives.
Listen to our audio meditation from one of our SoulWork trainings focusing on being held by High Self!
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