Home Reflections The Sacred Path of the Therapist: An Author’s Reflection

The Sacred Path of the Therapist: An Author’s Reflection

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by Irene R. Siegel

There was a time when I couldn’t imagine how to integrate my spiritual path and my Western training as a psychotherapist. I was traveling down to Peru periodically over a 10-year period, stepping into the mystical non-ordinary world of the shaman, while working as a clinical supervisor in a psychiatric hospital. I felt hurled down to South America, as if literally picked up and thrown down there by the circumstances and synchronicities in my life. I knew I had a choice, but not really. Destiny was calling to a tradition so foreign from my upbringing, but it activated a deep knowing and memory of ancient wisdom and truth.

My first book, Eyes of the Jaguar, was about the beginning of this mystical journey. I didn’t consider myself to be a writer and felt as if this book wrote itself through me. The words of the book refused to stop moving through my thoughts until I put them down on paper. It felt as if it was part of my spiritual initiation process, with a life of its own and an impact that I could not have known.

I believed strongly in a holistic interrelated paradigm of body/mind/spirit, as taught in the shamanic tradition. I meditated on how to integrate it all, and the inner wisdom of my soul whispered back, “It will integrate.” I learned to trust my inner guidance, and as time went on, I was able to see the integration within myself. As the therapist and the shaman became one within me, my work became more integrated.

I began to have extraordinary experiences in my work when I took the EMDR Basic Training in 1996. In the silent spaces of bilateral stimulation and client processing of traumatic memory, I began to sink deep within myself, accessing a shamanic state of inner focus and heightened intuitive senses. I tracked the energy flow between myself and my client. There was information in this flow, far beyond what the client could consciously verbalize. Using my inner vision and bodily sensations, I sensed the ebb and flow of energy and the processing of my clients. All I did was maintain my connection to the earth, and to my higher self, or soul. My clients’ traumas were being reprocessed quickly, as they reported extraordinary experience of their connections to a greater cosmic whole. The processing took us from the negative beliefs, disturbing emotions, to body sensations. Trauma therapists know that memory is not just stored in the brain, but in the body as well. I was learning to access the energy field through the body—within the cellular structure itself, where not only traumatic memory is stored, but ancient memory and higher wisdom can emerge. Through the imagination, my clients were learning to do the same. In my own imagination, light filled the room and my clients’ energy field expanded. My clients were quickly shifting from negative beliefs such as “I am not lovable,” to “God loves me, so I must be lovable,” to “I am love,” to “I am light,” to “I am.” The meaning and context of their traumas and their paths in the world were transforming as inner wisdom was infused into their expanded perceptions, and spiritual consciousness was evolving. I identified this experience as spiritual resonance, as the client and I would resonate with the energy of a larger cosmic whole.

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