If you’d come to me in my early years as a hypnotherapist, chances are I’d see you to stop smoking, lose weight, break a bad habit, boost your confidence or overcome a phobia. The focus was on solving your problems and that would be the end of the matter.
Of course, I still see many people who are happy to do just that; fix the issue and say goodbye. But as the years have passed, I’ve realised that treating symptoms is only half the story.
From problem solving to awakening your soul
Over the last decade I’ve noticed that more and more people are coming to see me to resolve what might be termed a ‘spiritual crisis’; a lack of meaning or purpose in life, feelings of dissociation and being ungrounded and a loss of connection to their true-selves.
As Dante wrote his 14th century epic, The Divine Comedy, “Midway upon the road of my life, I found myself in a dark wood, for the right way had been missed.”
Those words ring true for so many of us, even hundreds of years after they were written. Maybe you feel lost in a dark wood right now?
The Big Questions
The thing is that, for lasting change and transformation, we need to address the more ‘spiritual’ aspects of ourselves. And we can begin to do so by asking what I call the Big Questions…
- Who is the Real Me?
- Why am I like the way I am?
- Am I still governed by my history?
- How am I using my time on this planet?
- Is the way I’ve been living my life up to now still serving me well?
- Am I truly living according to my value system?
- How do I feel about getting older?
- How would I like to be in the second half of my life?
- What are my thoughts about death?
- What happens to me (if anything) after I die?
- And do I even have a relationship with something beyond myself?
To my mind, spirituality isn’t about praying or reading/listening to scriptures, going to church once a week and singing hymns or attending a retreat or pilgrimage once a year.
It’s more about contemplating and living these Big Questions on a daily basis that will help you refine your perceptions of reality. This is what true spirituality is about.
When we’re working with consciousness and our perceptions of reality we can be said to be working spiritually.
The drive toward enlightenment
A.H. Almaas points out in his book, The Alchemy of Freedom, that we are programmed not only with a sex drive but also an ‘enlightenment drive’. In our very DNA there is the seed of Nirvana. The purpose of life, as I see it, is about nurturing that seed.
Life really is a quest to free yourself from the emotional attachments and conditionings from the past so that you can become who you really are. And in so doing you expand your awareness and consciousness and are then in a more favourable position to have a direct experience with a larger reality. This is often referred to as God.
The merging of two separate approaches
After my own spiritual awakening experience in 2010 where I felt a sense of Oneness with All That Is, my approach to hypnotherapy naturally evolved. I now merge both solution-focused and transpersonal therapy to meet your human and spiritual needs.
Solution focused therapy is mostly (but not always) brief in duration with an emphasis on the here and now. Its focus is on meeting your emotional needs and developing your resources and skills to help you make changes in the present and work toward future goals. You won’t spend hours trawling through your past like in the old days of psychoanalysis.
Transpersonal (or spiritual) therapy aims to re-establish your relationship to your true-self (or what I refer to as your soul) and then connect up to something beyond yourself – mostly referred to as God, Great Spirit, the Tao, The Source, The Absolute, All That Is, The Universe, Nature etc.
The word ‘transpersonal’ simply means ‘beyond the personal, beyond yourself’. Having a connection to something outside and beyond yourself can help you find greater meaning in life. It can also help lift you out of self-absorbed trance states like depression and anxiety.
The real meaning of spirituality
As Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell point out in their ground-breaking 2004 book, The Human Givens – a new approach to emotional health and clear thinking, “We cannot develop more refined perceptions without fulfilling more basic human needs and appetites first…”
Refining perception is the true meaning of spirituality. This is why I combine the two types of therapy – solution-focused to help meet your emotional needs, and transpersonal to help meet your spiritual needs.
Human emotional needs
We’re all aware of the need for water, food, clothing and shelter. But what we’ll examine here are some of the emotional needs that we all have as human beings.
When I started using this approach after my training with the Human Givens Institute, my clients began to notice quick improvements in their symptoms and the quality of their lives. And it makes so much sense.
The premise is that if emotional needs are unmet, you are likely to suffer distress. Unmet needs raise your stress levels which puts the more primitive, emotional brain in control, influencing how you feel, think and behave – often irrationally and impulsively.
This leaves you prone to anxiety disorders, depression, anger, addictive behaviours, relationship problems, low self-esteem, and the like.
This is why I teach Zen Breathing to many of my clients.
The emotional needs include…
- The need to feel safe and secure
- The need to give and receive attention
- The need to feel a sense of control in your life
- The need for intimacy and a connection to others
- The need for a sense of belonging
- The need for time alone to reflect on things
- The need for status/recognition
- The need to feel competent in at least one area of your life
- The need to keep learning and achieving new things (to have goals that stretch and challenge you in a positive way)
Human spiritual needs
But I believe we need to meet more than just our emotional needs. The psyche (or soul) that resides deep in all of us is the connecting thread that, once awakened, firstly brings us home to our True-Selves and then links us up to a greater reality.
Spiritual needs include…
- The need for time alone and quiet reflection; time and space to simply BE.
- The need for contact with nature, to be outdoors
- The need to be creative
- The need for meaning and purpose in your life
- The need to grow, develop, and psycho-spiritually evolve
- The need to be authentic – to be your True Self
- The need to be of service to others – to get out of ‘ego-consciousness’ and into a more compassionate ‘soul consciousness’
- The need to have a connection to something larger than oneself (religious/spiritual/philosophical beliefs etc. that connect us up in some way to a bigger reality, something beyond ourselves)
Thus, it is by seeing yourself as having both human (emotional) and spiritual needs that you can start to make real and lasting transformations in your life and live more authentically as the Real You.