Meeting your emotional and spiritual needs underpins everything I do as a hypnotherapist these days.
But it wasn’t always the case…
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 ‘spiritual crises’; a lack of meaning, purpose or direction in life, feelings of dissociation from life and feeling ungrounded, and a loss of connection to one’s True Self.
As Dante wrote in 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 lost.”
Those words ring true for so many of us, even hundreds of years after they were written, because they highlight a stage we all go through. It is part of the human condition.
Maybe it’s your turn to feel lost in a ‘dark wood’ right now? Rest assured, there is a way out!
The real meaning of spirituality
The thing is that, for lasting change and transformation, we need to find the ‘right way’, to get back on our rightful path. And this, to my mind, means that we need to address both our emotional and spiritual needs.
So, let’s firstly take a moment and figure out what we mean by the term ‘spiritual’…
To my mind, spirituality isn’t about praying or reading scriptures or going to church once a week to listen to a sermon or sing hymns. Neither is it about attending a retreat or going on a pilgrimage once a year.
These things might all contain elements of spirituality, for sure. But as far as I see it, spirituality is more about having direct experiences rather than reading scriptures or relying on faith alone.
When we are purposefully working on ourselves – enquiring into the very nature of who we are, refining and enlarging 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 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 emotional and spiritual needs.
So, let’s take a quick look at these two approaches…
Solution focused therapy…
This 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
Transpersonal (the word simply means ‘beyond yourself’) therapy aims firstly to re-awaken your soul and then connect up to a larger reality.
Once your soul is re-awakened you’re in a much more favourable position to connect up to something beyond yourself. This is mostly referred to as God, Great Spirit, the Tao, The Source, The Absolute, All That Is, The Universe, etc.
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 ‘ego’ trance states like depression, anxiety, and addictions.
Meeting emotional needs will often solve your everyday problems. Meeting spiritual needs helps you refine your model of reality, leading to profound and lasting changes.
Refining perceptions of reality
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…”
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 so that you can change your model of reality.
Let’s first take a look at emotional needs…
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.
The emotional needs include the need to…
- Feel safe and secure
- Give and receive attention
- Feel a sense of control in your life
- Feel an emotional connection to others
- Have a sense of belonging
- Feel a sense of status/recognition
- Feel competent in at least one area of your life
- Keep learning and achieving new things (to have goals that stretch and challenge you in a positive way)
And the spiritual needs?
The soul – that resides deep in all of us – is the core of our being and, once awakened, firstly brings us home to our True-Selves and then links us up to a greater reality.
Spiritual needs include the need to…
- Have some time alone for quiet reflection; time and space to simply BE.
- Connect with nature, to be outdoors
- Be creative; to make things
- Experience your life as having a meaning and purpose
- Grow, develop, and psycho-spiritually evolve
- Be authentic – to be your True Self
- Be of service to others – to get out of ‘ego-consciousness’ and into a more compassionate ‘soul consciousness’
- Have a connection to something larger than oneself (religious/spiritual/philosophical beliefs etc. that connect you in some way to a bigger reality, something beyond yourself)
It is when we address both our emotional and spiritual needs that real, lasting transformation occurs. Our model of reality shifts, our ‘ground of being’ moves from ego to soul. We have a different state of consciousness, more connected to All That Is.
Problems are seen from a totally new perspective. You’re no longer sucked in by old emotional issues from the past.
You’re calmer and more present because your ‘ground of being’ is based in the here and now. You feel more alive to life as it happens. You’re finally showing up in the world!
So, how well are your emotional and spiritual needs being met right now?
Here are links again to the books mentioned in this article, along with one other…