What is Psychospiritual Transformative
We are all on a journey towards greater wholeness, self-realisation and self-actualisation.
It is important for us to acknowledge the whole of our being and this includes the psyche (mind), the body and the spirt.
Psychospiritual transformative coaching is a balanced, integrative approach which unites psychological and spiritual perspectives in relation to our healing, transformation and growth.
How is it different from traditional types of coaching?
Mainstream coaching is very much focused around performance and movement towards future goals. This can be problematic because working towards goals or attempting to manifest what we want in our life doesn’t work if these decisions stem from a place of in-authenticity, external belief systems or through a limited ego.
Our true ‘success’ and happiness needs to be based on values that arise from a more expansive, coherent and whole self. First, we need to connect with this core self so that we can be driven by clarity, purpose and meaning.
Conventional therapy or coaching is very much focused on the mind or ‘ego’ part of our self. Our egoic self can be understood as our personality, traits, habits of mind, belief systems and styles of thinking. Focusing only on our egoic self ignores other dimensions of our being and the interconnectivity between these dimensions - such as the mind, body and soul connection. This includes acknowledging how emotions manifest in the body as psychosomatic symptoms or exploring the more subtle (energetic) levels of ourselves. These subtle levels go beyond what our conventional senses can perceive and includes the core self that is connected to a unified field of consciousness.
The ‘Core’ Self
The original meaning of the word psychology (which comes from the Greek – psyche and logos actually means the study of the soul. Mainstream psychology and many therapeutic approaches have disregarded the concept of a ‘soul’ or a greater consciousness - that goes beyond the ego.
Mental, emotional or physical issues may be triggered by traumatic or difficult experiences that cause us to disconnect from our true, authentic and whole self. This self becomes masked by our experiences which lead us to feel fragment or not whole. Healing and transformation is about reconnecting with a stable and unchanging self that is always present within us and remembering that we are already whole and healed.
Our conscious ‘mind’ only makes up a small amount of who we are. Psychospiritual coaching and healing works with the subconscious, conscious and transpersonal levels of our being. As Carl Jung said, it’s about bringing the unconscious into conscious awareness. Messages from our subconscious may manifest as symbols in our dreams, psychosomatic symptoms and we can access other subconscious information by entering altered states.
Carl Jung spoke about individuation where the goal is to connect with the Self and works towards wholeness. This is not about being ‘perfect' but it’s is about recognising all aspects of our self, including the limitations and strengths of our ego. Our egoic self is broken into sections and a different part of ourselves is brought to the surface depending on the context we're in. We are working to integrate all parts of ourselves and bring them together rather than reject or disown them.
“Jung’s concept is that the aim of one’s life, psychologically speaking, should be not to suppress or repress, but to come to know one’s other side, and so both to enjoy and to control the whole range of one’s capacities; i.e., in the full sense, to “know oneself.”
It is important to work with our shadow and bring the different parts of ourselves into coherence and wholeness. If we work towards a greater union between the opposing forces of ourselves then we are moving towards wholeness, rather than creating more separation between the polarities such as the ‘light’ and ‘dark’ aspects of our individual and collective consciousness.
How is Psychospiritual Coaching different from therapy?
Often coaching is separated from therapy simply by the understanding that coaching is orientated around the person’s future and therapy is focused on an individual's past. This distinction is very limited and it’s also not accurate. Psychospiritual coaching acknowledges that each person is an individual with unique experiences and this encompasses their past, present and future. We can only re-write the story of our life if we acknowledge and reflect on the lessons from our past – this includes learning to find meaning behind the wounds, trauma or challenging experiences we have been through.
What it is not..
My coaching and healing practice is not attempting to diagnose or assess anyone’s mental health, nor am I working with those who have been diagnosed with serious mental health issues. However, when it comes to working with transformative experiences, particularly spiritual awakening, there may be some overlap between a person's experiences and what other might choose to pathologise. Also, a person can be highly functioning and still experience periods of depression, anxiety and grief and these issues may present themselves during coaching sessions.
Where did the name 'The Unbound Self' come from?
The Unbound Self describes our psychospiritual journey – the unraveling of the layers of our ‘ego-identity’. There are layers of amour that we often place around ourselves to protect us from difficult experiences, past trauma, grief and suffering.
These layers are wounded parts of ourselves that can cause us to feel disconnected from our true self and also to feel ‘fragmented’ and incomplete. When we start to unravel these layers we have glimmers or our true self - allowing it to be revealed in its wholeness and totality.
This is life-long process and there is this constant binding and unbinding, or expansion and restriction taking place in our lives. Learning to navigate and be at peace with this spiral like journey is a huge part of what it means to transform, heal and work towards wholeness.
I believe our true self, or the ‘soul’ aspect of ourselves is interwoven with a collective and unified field of consciousness. Connecting with our true self is about bringing ourselves back into alignment with the collective whole and recognising that we are not separate from each other, but we are each an individual expression of this collective whole.
“we are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience”
It is important to acknowledge the human and egoic self that enables us to be an expression of this whole because it is an essential part of our experience. If we only work with spiritual development and a desire to ‘transcend’ then there is a danger of by-passing our human experience. On the other hand, if we get caught up in our ego and ignore the existence of anything beyond this, then we are limiting our potential for healing and growth. This process is all about balance and integration and alongside spiritual development we must also work to have a healthy, stable and strong ego.
The Spiral Process of Transformation
It is my experience that our journey towards wholeness and healing is a spiral process, rather than an upwards ‘linear’ ascent. Throughout our life we may have spiritual or transcendent experiences and we may feel like we are ‘progressing’ on our journey. However, there is always this need to return to the deeper level of our selves and it is continuous process of unraveling these deeper layers.
When we get closer towards a sense of self-actualisation we may have even more difficulties or challenges arise because there is this ‘return’ to earlier life traumas, lessons or triggers that need to be acknowledged. These experiences all have a purpose of giving us an opportunity to engage in deeper levels of healing. The key is to learn to embrace these difficulties rather than ignoring or trying to surpass them.
I am very much interested in concepts like The dark Night of the Soul, or, this idea of descending into the underworld and uncovering the depths of our wounding. There are times in life where we experience this sacred journey and our personal identity, meaning and purpose is challenged. As painful as these experiences are, they are necessary for our renewal and our re-birth.
It’s about honoring this journey and recognising that there is a purpose to it and to hold space for it. There isn’t something ‘wrong’ with us, there is nothing to fix or to get over, but transformation is a process and it is difficult. It’s sticky and there are obstacles and challenges that we must face before we can move forward. It’s so important for us to navigate this journey with this awareness. This is where I find shamanistic and mythical knowledge helpful as a framework for navigating this journey.
For some of us the descent is triggered by the onset of an illness, stress and burnout, a breakup, the death of a loved one or a range of traumatic experiences. It literally feels like we have been catapulted into this descent and for others, it may be a more spontaneous or intuitive ‘soul’s calling’ that pulls us there.
Navigating the 'descent' is as important as navigating the ascent into transcendent experiences or peak experiences. We are all on this journey, but for some of us – for a variety of reasons - this journey might be accelerated, involve more intense experiences and more 'highs and lows'.
Transcendent or peak experiences can arise spontaneously by engaging in spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga or other healing activities. Some people might be more ‘open’ to these experiences and other people might seek them out by accessing altered states. These altered states are reached through the use of psychoactive substances, dance, breath-work or many other activities.
Part of my work as a psychospiritual coach is about recognising that these experiences are part of our transformation and growth, but sometimes these experiences are intense, unsettling, confusing and can be difficult to integrate into our daily lives. There might be a tendency to reject these experiences (if they are confusing or don’t make sense), holding on strongly to our ‘egoic self’ or because society as a whole tends to suppress or pathologies unusual experiences. This can make it even more difficult to speak out about transformative experiences.
It is my experience that at some point in our lives, everyone will be opened up to some kind of transcendent, spiritual or altered state and might need some guidance to navigate this journey. My work as a psychospiritual coach is to hold space for others as they learn to reflect, interpret or rest in both the uncomfortable and blissful experiences.
What is meant by the term ‘spirituality’?
Spiritual can be interpreted in many different ways. From my perspective, spirituality is very distinct from religion and it is not about following a specific doctrine. It is about the awareness and connection with something greater than our individual self.
This connection can and is experienced by people in many different ways. It might be through music, connection with nature, dance, spiritual practice, meditation or engaging in an activity and entering a state of ‘flow’.
An experience of this connection enables us to develop a stronger relationship with our personal and collective values. These values have not been ‘chosen’ by us from an outside force (as often happens in religion….) but are values that stem from an experience of an expansive, coherent self that is comparable to unconditional love.
This makes spirituality a universal phenomenon and not specific to any particular culture, ethnicity or religion. It is my understanding that it is by having a direct experience of the spiritual domain - such as through meditation or other practices - that we are guided towards greater unity and connection with the whole. This direct experience is what brings greater healing, wholeness, meaning and purpose. So spirituality doesn’t necessarily need to be taught, but it is something that is experienced and then understood universally.
I think many of the issues children and adults are facing today such as wide-spread depression, anxiety and violence towards ourselves and each other is because of a disconnect from the truth of who we are and from this universal connection that we all share. We are taught to value intellect over intuition, we are a world of ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’ and we often make choices based on society's perception of success or achievement rather what actually gives us purpose or meaning.
Who is psyhospiritual coaching for?
I help people with a range of issues such as the areas listed here. However, my coaching and healing sessions are not limited to these topics.
Navigating life transitions and ‘life crisis’
Burnout, stress or anxiety
Depression and existential depression e.g. loss of meaning or purpose
The journey of psychospiritual transformation
Spiritual crisis (emergency) or spiritual emergence
Mystical or Peak experiences
Experiences of Grief
Manifestation one’s fullest potential and purpose
Understanding Psychosomatic Disorders