There is a direct relationship between psychotherapy and spirituality. Spirituality is broader than religion, which has placed parameters around the mind of man – in terms of what we are allowed to think about ourselves and ideas such as guilt, sacrifice and unworthiness. Here is a psychospiritual perspective.
Spirituality is a way to describe the essence of who you are as a timeless being, temporarily residing here in a world based more on illusions than truth, the so-called reality composed of war, conflict, violence, hardship, insufficiency and lack. Spiritual principles include love, kindness compassion, equanimity, equality, joy, treating others exactly as you wish to be treated, and laws of cause and effect. Love extends itself and knows no difference between self and other, whatever the apparent differences. It’s not necessary to believe in God to have a spiritual perspective.
Psychotherapy is different for everyone who comes to it, and for many people the priority is to address the immediate issues that are giving rise to stress and pain. However, from a psychospiritual perspective, all therapeutic issues arise in the mind, and therefore what needs attention is the mind itself. In therapy, we work on the thinking and self beliefs that are linked with emotional and mental pain and distress. From this viewpoint, painful and uncomfortable life experiences and symptoms are not the direct cause of your unhappiness, but they are symptoms of it. The troubling event, situation, person or relationship is not the cause of your bad feelings, but instead is a trigger that shows you the bad feelings and negative thinking that already exist in your mind. Thus the situations in your life that you can’t ignore are showing you your unexplored, unconscious or semi-conscious beliefs, values and assumptions about yourself.
Psychospiritual psychotherapy brings the understanding that everything you have been through is a unique learning experience that can bring you great growth and learning. If you have a method to get a handle in what is happening, you do not have to remain stuck in repeating cycles. It shows us that there are lower and higher levels of functioning and self awareness, and we can always raise our game.
For psychotherapy to be a transformative experience, it’s necessary for both people to be open-hearted and to share goals and intentions for the joint work, so there is a sense of alignment and of being present and meeting your issues together. When you can see your old life issues in a new way, then you have much more free choice about how you deal with them. Psychospiritual psychotherapy is a joint practice which involves the person of the psychotherapist, who has travelled through some of this territory herself and is awake to the difficulties you are facing. This is a shared process of discovery, and different from a medical model of treatment that is administered according to a diagnosis and pre-designed plan.
Meditation alongside Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is not a spiritual pursuit for every client, but for those pulled in the direction of self awareness, or when your work requires you to have good self reflective and communication skills, it can go hand in hand with spiritual practices, such as meditation. Meditation can be a superb support for psychotherapy. The ability to spend time being present and at peace is beneficial in many ways, when you can step aside from the mind chatter and rest in peaceful self awareness. If you get distracted by mind chatter, you can choose something to focus on. Many people use the breath to focus their attention, but you can use anything that does not encourage over-thinking, such as listening to the sound of the wind, or watching a candle flame or the sky. The purpose of meditation is to give you a break from your mental preoccupations and rest in a timeless, friendly state of stillness and acceptance. Instead of trying to solve problems, let go your grip on them, so new inspiration can float in as a quiet idea that drops into your mind when you are temporarily less strongly identified with the ego mind.
The ego aspect of mind is not our friend when it comes to making much-needed life changes, as ego regards repeating the past as a form of safety. It is thoroughly invested in old patterns of self neglect, guilt, shame, unworthiness, blame, finding fault and judgement. This is the source of our blindspots, addictions, and repeating stress, trauma and unhappiness where we hide the truth from ourselves, often for decades.
Self love and self respect is a way through
Appreciating and valuing yourself and treating yourself well does not have to be self indulgent or narcissistic. It is a recognition that you matter, and you are equal. Your choices to raise yourself up and claim a higher vision of who are can have a wonderful effect on your life and those around you. We are trained to think of ourselves as insignificant or even worthless – but if you realised this is completely untrue, what would you do differently?