What is Holistic Counselling? How does it differ from other approaches?
The holistic counselling approach is primarily aimed at accessing and addressing the energetic patterns and underlying subconscious mental habits or beliefs that result in undesired symptoms, emotions, or behaviour patterns. Typical holistic counselling methods include non-judgemental listening, breath and mindfulness exercises, parts work, visualisation, cord clearing, vow breaks, forgiveness exercises, dream work, Soul Plan readings, affirmations and recommendations for starting classes or specific practices at home. Lifestyle patterns and other influences on mental balance will usually be explored, in addition to physical health and symptoms.
By healing the layers of traumas, memories, fears and beliefs that keep us in separation from our true essence - the innate 'wholeness' that already exists at the core of our being - holistic counselling supports us in becoming more free and more present. Awareness and empowerment to live increasingly aligned with our individual capacities and higher aspirations naturally follows.
What is Soul Plan?
Soul Plan is a form of numerology derived from the ancient Hebrew Gematria system, based on the vibration of the full birth name as it appears on the birth certificate. The details of the current system have been developed by therapist and author, Blue Marsden, building upon the ‘Numerology of Moses’ methodology expounded by Dr. Frank Alper (1930 - 2007). The original ancient text, Sefer Yetzirah, describes a creation theory and includes assignments of traits and polarity challenges.
"Numerology?" I hear you say. "I don't believe in numerology...or that I have a soul." Actually, it is more of a 'letter-ology'. Each sound carries a particular frequency, and we are affected by what we hear, including the name(s) we are called. There are a total of 22 energies in the Soul Plan system, corresponding to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Although we all experience all these energies, there are 7 aspects of one's life that are primarily governed by these energies as follows:
~ Worldly Challenge, Worldly Talent, Worldly Goal
~ Spiritual Challenge, Spiritual Talent, Spiritual Goal
~ Soul Destiny
What form does a Soul Plan reading take?
All you need to provide is your full birth name as it appears on the birth certificate. Your Soul Plan reading will be prepared in report format, which takes up to three days. You will then receive your Soul Plan chart, which consists of a six-pointed star diagram and the 7 energy combinations and corresponding symbols for each of the worldly, spiritual and Soul Destiny positions. For each of these positions, the report will include the key words and elements that came to light in your personal reading. This may include habits and qualities that you recognise in yourself, or that are not (yet) apparent, as well as limiting beliefs and aspirations. It can also include healing affirmations, suggested therapies and self-help techniques. In addition you will receive a second document containing the original Soul Plan description of the 7 energies of your Soul Plan, which you may wish to read in more detail to see whether other elements resonate with you now or at a later date. You may chose to work through your Soul Plan reading with Tara, gaining deeper clarity, understanding and empowerment towards living life in Soul-alignment.
Why have a Soul Plan Reading?
A Soul Plan Reading can help you to:
~ Better understand your life, your mind and your habits
~ Become aware of and clear limiting beliefs
~ Recognise your gifts and achieve your full potential, creating a life of fulfilment, love and meaning.
It offers a simple framework of insight into some of the primary vibrations at play in ones experience of so called ‘worldly’ (downward facing triangle in the Soul Plan diagram) and ‘spiritual’ (upward facing triangle) matters. The worldly aspects are concerned with our relationship to the world, society, career and the planet. The spiritual aspects are more related to one's connection to and discovery of one’s true identity (Atman, Supreme Soul, pure Love) and a higher purpose in life, including one's potential calling (Soul Destiny).
More specifically a Soul Plan reading identifies:
~ The worldly and spiritual challenges or difficulties your soul has chosen to experience this lifetime
~ The talents or natural abilities readily available to you that can help overcome these challenges
~ How to empower yourself to move towards your soul’s worldly goals and spiritual aspirations, thereby finding more fulfilment and meaning in life
Are the Challenges in my Soul Plan reading bad?
According to the Soul Plan system, the soul itself choses its birth name, and hence also the energies one will experience in any given lifetime. Challenges should therefore not be perceived as a negative aspect in ones life, rather as energies that ones soul has chosen to experience and learn to navigate in this lifetime. Simply taking the decision to trust the intelligence of your soul can create major shifts in how one experiences such challenges.
When reviewing your Soul Plan Reading, it is important to understand that the energies in the challenge positions also have the potential to offer positive attributes. These are sometimes only recognised once the challenges have been largely overcome. Conversely, you may also experience some of the challenges associated with energies in your talent or goal positions. The talents can be put to use to help overcome challenges and embody ones, creating more peace of mind, purpose, and fulfillment in everyday life.
How do the worldly and spiritual aspects of one's Soul Plan typically play out? What is the Soul Destiny energy?
Although some individuals may be more aware of the spiritual area of their chart from an early age, as a general rule most people will be working with their worldly energies (downward facing triangle in the Soul Plan diagram) up until the age of about 35. Thereafter the energies of the more spiritual part of a soul’s journey (upward facing triangle) will likely begin to manifest or become more important. Following a regular spiritual practice can ‘speed up’ the process, making energies in the spiritual positions more apparent earlier, and supporting the activation or strengthening of talents and overcoming challenges sooner.
The Soul Destiny energy represents the quintessence of ones soul energy; it pervades all the others and acts as the foundation of ‘who you are’, or rather, who you appear to be in this relative existence of duality.
Why does mind matter? What is mind anyway?
Both science and spiritual masters teach that everything is energy, including the mind. Very simply, mind can be classified as ‘a bundle of thoughts’. Yoga teaches that the imbalances we experience in life and why we suffer are due to falty perception, which arises as thought waves in the mind. More often than not, these thoughts are subconscious. Anyone that practices meditation will quickly become more aware of the power of the mind and how it affects our experiences of everyday life.
This does not mean that the mind is bad. On the contrary, the mind is a very useful and necessary tool for navigating life. However, we can learn how to use it in service of our highest good to bring us closer to fulfillment, instead of allowing it to remain as the destructive tool it tends to play in the default human condition. In order to do this, it is helpful to understand more about what the mind is and how it functions.
Holistic counselling and spiritual disciplines, including yoga and meditation practices, recognise that the ‘wholeness’ we seek as humans, through addictions, external objects, status, wealth and relationships, is in fact already here; it is the only thing that is always present and unchanging, it is who we always have been at the core of our being, and always will be. In Ultimate Reality we are perfect, we are unconditional Love, Oneness, but because this reality is beyond the mind it cannot be described or imagined. From the non-dual perspective, that wholeness is not separate from the wholeness of others, it is the same pure essence in all. The only reason we fail to experience this, is because of the state of the mind, which is influenced by many factors.
Why is the subconscious mind relevant to me?
While we may be more or less aware of what is happening on a conscious level, according to psychologists and saints, the subconscious mind (or unconscious mind) accounts for 90% of all mental activity. While the subconscious mind holds high intelligence, it is also responsible for our perceptions of threats, and the reasons many of us behave in seemingly self-destructive ways; it all plays out according to how the subconscious mind has been ‘programmed’ to operate. This ‘programming’ is typically due to multiple sources, including childhood or societal conditioning, traumas, past-life traits, ancestral patterns, and even external energetic influences, connections and entities. It reflects the sum total of all our past experiences, including the ones we can’t remember. According to the ancient Vedic scriptures in which yoga is rooted, each individual soul has thousands of lives, hence we each carry a vast past that has formed our character today.
For most of us, the subconscious process governs our personalities, and we live life on autopilot, reacting to life through our habits and routine emotional responses that arise too fast for us to even notice they could be different. The practice of meditation, other spiritual disciplines and spiritual counseling, allow for the creation of more distance from our habituated identifications, enabling one to respond to the new found awareness of the mind’s habits with choice: react as pre-programmed, or act to re-programme. This allows for more peace and contentment in every day life, and more clarity for right action and the creation of new healthier habits.
What do yoga and holistic counselling have in common?
Yoga teaches that there are three types of impurity in the mind, which we identify with, preventing us from experiencing our true identity:
1. selfishness or egoism (mala)
2. restlessness and outward-going tendency (vikshepa)
3. spiritual ignorance (avarana) i.e. not knowing who we truly are, and instead identifying with the body, mind and personality. This is the root cause of the other two impurities.
Initially, the purpose of any spiritual practice is to refine and still the mind, particularly of the first two impurities listed above. Yoga teaches that only then is it possible to overcome the third impurity and come into the full experience of unlimited unity. In contrast, the primary goal of holistic counselling is to heal and reduce suffering in order to live a successful happy life according to ones own parameters. In practice, the first stages of undertaking any spiritual discipline will usually offer much healing, while holistic counselling has the potential to uncover deep insights that may otherwise take years of spiritual practice to expose. Hence there is much overlap between the two fields, and they are also greatly complementary. Both yoga and holistic counselling connect us to a higher principle - whether we perceive that as pure Love, the Supreme Soul, Oneness or Divinity.
Can we really do anything about our own suffering?
YES! Broadly speaking, it can be said that as humans, we suffer because we don’t have what we want or don't like what we have, we suffer when we get what we want because we fear to lose it or because it doesn’t give us what we imagined it would, and then we suffer when we lose what we wanted because we no longer have it. The bad news is, when seen in this way, life is a whole lot of suffering. The good news is that by understanding where suffering is really coming from, we are empowered to change our relationship with it.
As long as we identify with our past and believe our perceptions of what causes pleasure and pain, we suffer in trying to control our experience in life, rather than being at ease when things don’t go to plan. Understanding this chain of thoughts that compound our suffering can help us to see how we could experience life differently.
This does not mean that we should become passive or accept abusive or unhealthy situations; rather, that through healing and cultivating clear thinking, less importance is given to externalities because one begins to recognise more peace and happiness flowing from within, from our connection to the soul, irrespective of circumstances. As a result there is also more energy and creativity available to take positive action and reduce limitations imposed by ourselves or by others.
Where do emotions come from?
Emotions may seem to appear out of nowhere, but yoga and other spiritual disciplines teach that they are a direct result of identifying with our thoughts, and that it is the thoughts, though perhaps subconscious, arise first. A regular meditation practice quickly increases awareness and choice in this respect.
What do we mean by 'healing'?
Healing can occur on multiple levels – physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual. The term ‘spiritual’ has many, often contradictory interpretations in modern society. In this context, spiritual healing can be thought of as the transmutation of deep-rooted tendencies of the personality (vasanas) that, however subtle, drive habits that take us further away from connecting to our natural happiness within.
How do psychosomatic effects come about?
While the biochemical model of the west is still largely led by empirical research, based on the measurements possible with current available technology and tools, the wisdom of eastern traditions, and scriptures in general, are considered to come from a higher source of ‘cosmic intelligence’. Increasingly, it seems the western and eastern views of the human psyche and system as a whole are beginning to converge.
In eastern traditions, the physical brain, which is limited in location to the skull, is seen as a tool used by the mind to communicate with the body via the nervous system, and to process its gross sensory interactions with the outer world. According to these teachings, consciousness does not arise from the brain, rather, the physical world including the brain arises from consciousness, and the mind is in fact in every cell of the body. In the yogic system, this mental body or ‘sheath’ (manomayakosha), which includes the emotions, interpenetrates and extends beyond the physical body (annamayakosha). It also overlaps with the energetic sheath (pranamayakosha), the layer of any living being that is responsible for the body’s life force or vitality, also known as chi or prana, which travels through the body’s main energy centres (chakras) and many thousand energy channels (meridians or nadis). These sheaths are increasingly subtle in nature, which is why most of us only perceive the physical body, though the terms ‘aura’ and ‘energetic field’ are now relatively mainstream. As the three layers of thought, prana and physicality interact, thoughts affect the flow of energy or prana, which in turn have an affect on the nervous system and physical body. And vice versa. The ancient science of Ayurveda, the sister discipline to yoga, teaches that physical symptoms can result from energetic blocks caused by unprocessed emotions, stress, traumas or general negativity, in the subtle energetic pathways of the body (pranavaha nadis) or mental sheath (manovaha srotas).
What does it mean to transmute energetic blocks through holistic counselling and spiritual practices?
Understanding that the mental, energetic and physical sheaths are interrelated, provides us with a greater awareness of how interventions or practices can benefit us. Energetic blocks can be released through physical practices, like yoga or massage. By creating a smoother flow of energy, pain and disease can be reduced, and vitality increases. To this end reiki, qigong, yogic breathing exercises, acupuncture and holistic counselling interventions like EFT (also known as needleless acupuncture) are also very effective.
The same can apply to allergies and traumas that originate from an initial stressful or threatening episode. Because the subconscious mind works via association, situations or stimuli that have something in common with the original threatening event can cause a similar emotional and/or physical reaction in the body. For example, someone with a phobia of driving due to trauma from a past accident in icy conditions may have a physical/emotional reaction when being driven anywhere thereafter. The subconscious mind has associated the threat to all driving situations, and will think ‘danger’ when getting in a car. Healing such a case effectively will a) release the energetic blocks in the energetic and physical body laid down during the original traumatic event and b) re-train the subconscious mind to no longer perceive all traffic situations as a threat.