“There is nothing more sacred than our relatedness,
Within Ourselves, Between Each-Other, to Sense of Place, & Our Connection to the Earth.
From this place we encounter Spirit of Life, The Great Mystery
That Manifests All into Being.”
– Christina Manfredi
Whilst there are a number of interconnecting principles and practices that inform Shamanic Psychotherapy and Counselling there are 11 core foundations for practice. These include:
Embodied Consciousness & BodyMind Therapy advocates that rather than separating from our bodily life and experience to connect with a deeper awareness of Self and spirituality, we embrace our full capacity of human animal bodily sensory nature to accept what is and what is becoming rather than telling ourselves what should be. A key focus of this approach is the realization that our true Self is an infinite spacious Embodied Presence of Being in which everything is revealed and unfolds moment by moment as a continuous stream of grounded Body-Mind-Spirit sense awareness.
Consciousness itself is more than pure brain or ego activity, it is an awareness intelligence that occurs within and throughout the body and yet it is not limited to the linear time or place of the observable physical body. The scientific evidence in quantum physics has shown that consciousness is non local which supports the experience that consciousness is not limited by the physical boundaries of the physical body and immediate sensory awareness. It is the non locality of consciousness that shamanic healing is concerned with.
Consciousness as this expanded intelligent awareness of Being is the vital essence where we will encounter our dreams, intuitions, our pre-cognitions, our creativity, our authentic values, purpose and meaning in life. Experiences of clairvoyance, telepathy, and psychokinesis healing are understood from this perspective. All non local consciousness does eventually require our creative perceptual abilities of skin, hearing, vision, touch, smell, taste, intuition, and interoception to allow the spirit of life to move through our bodies as awareness of body-sense, to be registered by our cognition and heart and then move out into the world as purposeful action and influence. It is the how to embody and how to make worldly sense of the information we receive via non local consciousness that is important. Our ego eventually needs to filter this information through to be in the service of our greater journey and healing.
Our sense of Self arises from this dynamic interplay between body-mind-spirit, environment and physicality of our earth and broader cosmos, not purely from our parental conditioning, culture, and society. In this regard our body-consciousness can be likened to an energetic communication system, receiving and sending information from and to the wider environment. The body as this energetic communication system is where we can consciously expand or contract our boundary of S/self through a refinement and an awareness and attunement of our perceptual senses.
It is through our creative conscious ability to expand, contain or focus our boundary of Self/Being, and our understanding of how to creatively move within states of embodied consciousness that we can access our inherent natural wisdom and can draw upon the broader field of Life for energetic, physical, psychological and spiritual resources for empowerment and healing.
“The most significant journey that we can ever take
Is to travel deeply within ourselves
To connect with the authenticity of our soul
Our Infinite Spacious Presence of Being
Then our soul may journey in this world
As an expression of truth and wellbeing.”
– Christina Manfredi
The concept of soul is one that is used to refer to our unique personal vital life essence and the expansive life of the psyche, our expansive and spacious Embodied Presence of Being that is not defined solely by the attributes of the ego or physical body. In many spiritual traditions the understanding of soul is regarded as arising from the ever creative life source of the universe that some may refer to as Spirit, Consciousness, God/Goddess. From a Shamanic Psychotherapy perspective the soul is an intimate personal expression of truth reflected from this vast and in-exhaustible sea of Spirit, embodied and non local consciousness. The soul is the seemingly invisible and non-material aspect of our humanity that inhabits and animates our physical nature. There is a saying that states ‘the eyes are the windows of the soul’. If we take a moment to consider this each of us may recall a time where we have met someone and when looking into their eyes we notice the absence of life vitality, the complete bluntness of emotion, this is evidence of an affected soul. Soul is reflected in our eyes and also our animated and emotional vigor of the body and integrity of Being. As such the soul represents the embodied life principle of our humanity which has a generative nature and the power to create out of its clear intention and purpose for our authentic journey in this life. Like an acorn, our soul contains many embodied possibilities and unique gifts. Each of us as unique beings has unique purpose, resources and gifts encoded deep within our body that can be more fully available to effect our own healing and to share with others and the world. These soulful resources are our current synergy of the evolutionary journeys of our genetic, spiritual, and environmental ancestors. The journey and healing of the soul is a process that facilitates an individual’s deeper unfolding of their authentic Embodied Presence of Being Here & Now in this world. This process takes place through valuing and skilfully working with the understanding and reality of embodied yet expansive sea of consciousness, which permeates the All that Is.
* Please note that the use of the term ‘ego’ specifically refers to the part of the self that recognizes itself as distinct from others and the world. It is the part of our psyche that is involved in everyday decision making and practical functioning in the world. Whilst the ego is an extremely important aspect of our being (without it we could not survive as human-beings) it is not the sum total of who we are. The ego holds all of the conditioned patterns of our life time derived from culture, experiences of growing up in family and community. It is our personality/character that we are aware of. In shamanic terms the ego is the aspect of us that has awareness located primarily and firmly in the Middle world and is usually address in conventional psychological counselling. It is also considered important to have a well balanced enough ego to undertake deeper shamanic soul journey. A fundamental aim of Shamanic Psychotherapy & Counselling is to deepen awareness and insight into the fuller aspects of our essential organism, and to empower the ego to be in the service of our spirit, heart, soul, body, and our Love the infinite spacious Embodied Presence of Being.
Field theory is intimately related to shamanic analytic practice as are the understandings of Social Work theory and practice and Deep Ecology. A fundamental premise of field theory is that individuals do not exist in isolation, and that human experience and health can only be understood with reference to its wider context. This wider context includes the variables of spiritual, the vast sea of consciousness that involves consciousness awareness and the unconscious, soul-psyche, body-mind, will, cognition, perception, emotion, intuition, instinct, action, familial, intimate relations, socio-cultural environment, history, the ecological environment, and the broader context of the world’s conditions. From this perspective there is an emphasis on a holistic appreciation of the interconnectedness, interrelatedness, and ultimate interdependence of human existence.
Field theory suggests that human behaviour cannot be attributed to any single cause but arises from the interlocking forces of interrelating variables contained within the individual’s unique life experience.
Field theory also advocates that any change in one aspect of a person’s field will have a flow through to others which in-turn also impacts upon and changes the wider environment. This also operates in reverse from the broader environmental field to the individual. There is a constant interflowing cyclical process between the micro forces within the individual and the macro forces within the wider environment.
The individual presenting for therapy is regarded holistically and any assessment and diagnosis is made with reference to the unique broader field variables that the person presents within.
The concept of Re-Connective Intimacy & Inner Bonding is concerned with the connecting processes within ourselves, how we connect with each other, and how we connect with our elemental world. Re-Connective Intimacy is an experiential process that enhances our full bodily awareness skills in the present moment in order to explore and deepen a nourishing connection with life.
Research in the areas of interpersonal neurobiology, attachment and bonding processes, mirror neurons, and deep ecology has suggested that the practice of presencing within nature, and within and between ourselves is a primary source of healing. Healthy connectedness to oneself, each other, and the elemental world greatly encourages our general wellbeing. Our stress levels go down, our physical and mental health improves, our immune systems strengthen, our confidence and self esteem grows. Without healthy connections and intimacy we experience a poverty of Being, isolation, loneliness, depression, suffering, and for some possibly even death. Most of us yearn for meaningful connection, to be known and to know in mutual regard and safety, to be acknowledged for our uniqueness and our vulnerabilities to be understood. Somewhere deep inside we intuitively and instinctively know that to have a healthy connection with oneself, eachother, and our world is to have life.
Re-connective intimacy with our precious earth is rapidly becoming a primarily concern for most of us. Connecting with our beautiful earth and remembering that the earth and its elemental biosphere can be a wise adviser if we choose to listen has become more vital than ever during a time when the earth’s balance is under threat. Our mortal body is a natural extension of earth’s body and we are remembering that when we alienate ourselves from our own physical body through an over emphasis on intellectualizing, use of technology, and our ‘individualistic’ and egocentric orientation to life we run the risk of destroying the balance of nature and simultaneously we then destroy our own inner balance. We are not separate to our elemental biosphere; we exist to the extent our earth’s elemental biosphere is in balanced health. Further, when we consider our experience of spirit in this regard, spirit is not separate from our physicality of body and earth and our body is not the dwelling place of spirit. Rather our body and earth is the physical manifestation of spirit.
It is us as conscious responsive human beings that can co-determine wholeness and balance through an intimate connection. When we learn to live in harmony and with respect for all of creation then and only then can we find our rightful place within Life and within the related diversity of each-other. Honoring an intimacy within ourselves, with each other, honoring and rejoicing in the sacredness of our own body-spirit and the earth’s sacredness is the way forward in restoring not only our own health and vitality but also the health and well-being of our precious earth.
Organismic awareness is concerned with the micro awareness skills of how we come into awareness of our present experience and how we move into contact with each other and the environment for need satisfaction (emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, sexual, relational, communal, and ecological needs). It is a process that occurs when we mindfully reclaim our full multi-sensory existence as that of spirit, soul, mind, will, heart & emotion, the sensing and somatic body, community, and earth. In an increasing technological age we are in danger of estranging ourselves from our multi-sensing body and soulful experience. Increasingly in our technological world we are relying predominantly on our visual, auditory and cognitive functions. But what about our proprioceptive sense, our sense of touch, smell, taste, sense of flesh, our interocetive sense, and intuitive soul sense? What of our spirit and relationship with community and earth? Mindfully re-claiming our mutli-sensory embodied Being in any given present moment allows us greater choice about how we can fulfill our needs and restore health and happiness.
The Phenomenological Method is a set of refined awareness skills at the heart of Organismic Awareness. The Phenomenological Method is interested in how it is that we come to certain meanings of our experiences, happiness, depression, grief, fear, etc. Anthropological, psychological and social work research has indicated that the meanings we attribute to any experience is greatly influenced by cultural norms, our unique past experiences, and what has been handed down to us as conditioned patterns of meaning from our ancestors. The Phenomenological Method advocates that our experience (of ourselves, other, and the world) is always made up of a participatory interaction and co-creative relationship between the immediate raw matter of the world and others, our own sensory and mental faculties, and our unique past experiences, and those of our ancestors. Our human minds and hearts do not just produce meanings that correspond exactly to an external reality, neither do we simply ‘impose’ our own meanings onto the world. Our experience of illness, health, depression, anxiety, or happiness and peace are a reflection of an intimate dialogic relationship between our inner world and the wider world of others, cultural and society’s norms, our past, nature and life. What this means in-effect is that we are not sole creators but co-creators of our experienced realities. This is an important distinction when it comes to understanding responsibility in creation and healing. This understanding allows us to discern what influence we may have in relation to our interpretations (meanings) of the world and our personal power to effect healing by embracing self-responsibility and self acceptance when choosing our responses to the world. It is the incredible potential of our creative consciousness that allows us the capacity of reflective awareness. This means that we can actively pay attention to how we construct interpretations of events. We can come to discern to what extent our interpretations have been informed by past automatic and conditioned ways of being as to what we have be told we should think, feel, and act, or to what extent they arise from an authentic choiceful and soul resonance response. It is in choicefully embracing our creative consciousness and capacity for reflective awareness that allows us the freedom to live more fully into our soul’s innate potential for an authentic, empowered and meaningful life.
“We don’t see things as they are
We see them as we are.”
– Anais Nin
Psychological research has indicated that our current thought patterns and beliefs are greatly influenced by our early felt sense of the physical contact with caregivers, and our early emotional experiences. Our current thought patterns then in-turn create a neurological feedback loop which has an effect upon the way we continue to feel about ourselves, others, the world, and the way we behave. Often it is the case that we grow up being told what and how we should think, feel, and behaviour in relation to certain events and experiences. It may also be the case that certain things happen to us and family, friends and society may unintentionally respond in ways that lead us to feel, think and believe certain things about ourselves and the world. These feelings, thoughts and beliefs may or may not have served us in the past. What is important however is that we examine how these emotions, thoughts, beliefs and behaviours do or do not serve us in our current circumstances. Too often we may be vulnerable to forgetting that our beliefs, and habituated behaviours can afford us the ultimate gifts of personal empowerment and protection, or in-fact a diminishment of our sacred self.
The process of Felt Sense, Emotional Focusing, Cognitive Re-Structuring & Soul Braiding seeks to firstly identify how your body’s felt sense of sensations, and emotional experience holds the memory of past emotional injuries, traumas and limiting beliefs. We journey within the body, into the core of the feeling memories, and associated images, to discover how you arrived at certain limiting thoughts and beliefs about yourself. We then examine how they currently impact upon your body, your intuition and instincts, your relationships, and your soul and spirit, your vital life force. Following this we then enter deeper into the reflection and speaking of your soul to explore your authentic needs, expression of your truth, and longing for healing. The final step is in the sensitive and practical art of discharging the held physical and emotional energy, and then re-structuring your thoughts and beliefs so that they become a more accurate reflection of your soul’s integrity and vital life essence. More choiceful life enhancing thoughts and beliefs and new behaviours are braided as one continuous unfolding expression of your soul’s emotional authenticity. The process of Felt Sense, Emotional Focusing, Cognitive Re-Structure & Soul Braiding allows you to experience liberation from stuck and painful physiological and emotional states, and the associated limiting thoughts and beliefs in order that you may experience deeper healing and ultimately the freedom to be YOU.
“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth,
Yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain
Must be added the experience of the soul.”
– Arnold Bennett
There are many kinds of medicines advocated for healing the mind and body. Western, Chinese medicines, Naturopathic, Ayvredic, Homeopathic are some of the more commonly known medicines. Every knowledge has its possibilities and each has its own rightful place and contribution to assist in our healing. Two other kinds of medicines that are always available and that we can rely on are our Personal Medicine within and the Medicine of Place. Our Personal Medicine refers to our embodied soul’s authentic power. Authentic power is the opposite of external power. Whilst our Authentic Personal Power can exert intention, influence and action it has nothing to do with having and misusing power and control over others or our world. Rather our Personal Medicine (the embodied soul’s authentic power) has a particular essence and inner power, abilities, talents and resources that we can access for our own self-healing and self-mastery and for the extended healing relationship with others and the world.
Medicine of Place relates to specific spiritual and healing resources that are available associated with specific places in nature. Every place on our earth as a particular energy, a particular spirit. Relationship with Medicine of Place can be respectfully engaged with for self-healing, healings for others, and the celebratory communion and respect for Mother Nature herself.
Participatory Spirituality refers to spirituality as an experience emerging out of a relational event, be that the qualitative felt sense of connectedness between people, or between communities, place, nature, and other species. Participatory Spirituality in emphasizing connection and relationship is closely identified with the principles of Re-Connective Intimacy and Embodied Consciousness. The focus of Participatory Spirituality is less about an individual’s encapsulated inner experience of spirituality and more about the in-between I and You, I and Place and Nature.
Martin Buber (1970) a great exponent of a relational appreciation of spirituality stated, “Spirit is not in the I but between I and You, it is not like the blood that circulates you, but like the air that you breathe”. It is like we exist within a field of spirituality that pervades and flows between the All. It is in the moments when we relate with another Being (Including animals) or Place & Nature from the depth of our authenticity mind, body, heart and soul that we become aware of a sacred flow of connectedness where spirit is revealed. These moments and events are beyond logic and cannot be confirmed by any quantative scientific investigation. However it is probably the case that for many of us at some time in our lives we have felt an inner knowing of the felt presence of this co-created communion that comes into existence between ourselves and another and between ourselves and nature.
Participatory spirituality in emphasizing living spirit in the In-Between also refers to the role and power that embodied consciousness plays as part of the expanded field of spirit-consciousness in the co-creation of all lived experience. When two Beings consciously meet within a present moment, in the Here & Now with authentic open mutual regard spirit is revealed in the between. It is within this meeting that each Being, and/or Nature experiences a healing transformation.
“The value of the personal relationship to (and between) all things
Is that it creates Intimacy…
And Intimacy creates understanding…
And understanding creates Love.”
– Anais Nin