I believe people are best viewed as a whole entity consisting of body, mind, and soul. People are best understood when viewed through their own eyes, not by looking back into the past but by bringing the past into the present. Psychotherapy and spirituality are two pieces of a fundamental process of creating wholeness. It is the process of deep healing, awakening, and integration- becoming fully human, fully alive, fully here, fully grown up.
Psychotherapy gives us tools to understand the personality traits that develop in our early lives. These traits were helpful to us as young people but can become outdated and unhelpful as we grow and mature. These old patterns of behavior can create anxiety, procrastination, depression, unhealthy coping skills, communication problems, and relationship issues.
Psychotherapy gives us a way to understand the lens we see the world through, consisting of belief systems and the stories or narratives we tell about our lives, most of which we learned from our families, our tribes, and society. For example, we may have been brought up and taught to turn away from certain emotions, to sedate them, to get away from them, to numb ourselves from them, distract ourselves as pleasurably as we can from them. When we separate ourselves from emotions or thoughts that are part of our human experience, they become shadows of the unconscious.
Psychotherapy offers us shadow work. The shadow is the container for what we’ve disowned and rejected in ourselves and want to keep in the dark. It is a big part of us and to leave it unattended and unexamined is to leave our selves partial, divided, far from whole. Our tendency regarding our shadow is to fuse with it, get lost in its contents, or to avoid it, but the real work is to become intimate with our shadow, intimate with what’s in our shadow, all of it. It asks for courage and it deepens our courage. It’s an absolutely worthwhile path because to undergo it whole-heartedly leads us into a rare wholeness of being.
Spirituality offers us the ability to cultivate intimacy and loving kindness with all that we are. It teaches us to nurture and develop the inner observer, present moment awareness, non-judgment, and heart-centered thinking. Cultivating intimacy with all that we are- light and dark, everything, high and low, superficial and deep.
Spiritual traditions, however, tend to leave out shadow work, and there is a lot of shadow work that comes up through spiritual practice; most of which is rooted in psychological and emotional domains.
The most common shadow of spirituality is spiritual bypassing. Spiritual bypassing is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with relationship issues, emotional pain, and so on. There is a lot of avoidance in it. Wherever you find spirituality, you find spiritual bypassing. We all have a spiritual bypasser in us, so it's important to approach this whole topic with compassion, even as we go for needed changes. If we get caught up in spiritual bypassing, it keeps us divided, somewhat anemic, cut off from the deeper reaches of life.
We will explore thinking patterns, interpersonal neurobiology, somatic work, relationships, the inner critic, the observer, self-compassion, emotional work, moment awareness, mindfulness, shadow work, cultivating consciousness, myths, dream work, visualization, imagery, non-judgment, intuition and insight, archetypes, sacred ceremony & ritual, plant medicine, spiritual bypassing, and metaphor.
We will focus on your experience in the present moment. The focus on the here and now does not exclude or deny past events or future possibilities; in fact, the past and future are intricately linked to our present experience. The idea is to avoid dwelling on the past or anxiously anticipating the future. Experiences of the past may be addressed in therapy sessions, but we will focus on exploring what factors made a particular memory come up in this moment, or how the present moment is impacted by experiences of the past. We will also explore the way thoughts and emotions are experienced in the body.