Our life journeys are our stories—they offer fodder for conversation, for connection. They become staple for books waiting to be written. Some travelers share their tales as memoirs, others mirror a fictionalized character after their truth and create a picture of themselves through the lens of another. Others bring their experiences forward into a more professional sense, especially if that was part of their story to start.
But, to impact others interested in our journey, the traveler turned writer must extend the experience beyond the places they went, the people they interacted with, the basic sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations they recall. The experiences recounted, be it—a spiritual trip to study with a master shaman in Peru, completing a doctoral degree in Transpersonal Psychology, witnessing the birth of a thought that extends into a spiritual interweave of psychology and shamanism— must form core moments of conception, create an understanding, an awareness that becomes life altering for author and reader.
Irene Siegel does all that and more as she shares her journey into the jungles of Peru, the hallways of academic institutions and her own curiosity that culminated in not only dramatic changes in her clinical practice but also the creation of her newest book, entitled, The Sacred Path of the Therapist: Modern Healing, Ancient Wisdom, and Client Transformation.
The book “addresses the subject of spiritual resonance within the psychotherapeutic process, and the integration of psychotherapy and awakening of spiritual consciousness based on my own experience as a psychotherapist, the reporting of my research participants, and the synthesis of my clients’ experiences over the years. The journey of healing unfolds in sacred space and is transformational for both therapist and client” (pg. 10). Siegel’s goal is to lead readers down “a path, through knowledge and experience, that will awaken a process in you” (pg.11). She approaches a difficult task with simple, clear, detailed text. She imparts information about alternative ways of knowing, ways of tracking information and energy flow, ways of holding resonance in a shared field based on connection to the divine source, while sharing how to weave all this into a therapy session (pg. 10). Words, she says, are not all that adequate in situations like these—bridging “the egoic process of reading and intellectually understanding the information, a left brain linear process, with a right brain process based on a nonlinear emotional experience of expanded awarenesses.”
Siegel is aware of the need to both cognitively understand and bodily absorb the material—bring it in, be with it, let it be with you, let it be you. To counter this gap, she offers guided meditations along with journaling experiences throughout the book. And, a huge must have in my opinion, readers can access audio versions of several of her meditations, for free, from her website (see page 11 for website address).
How it Began
The book is derived from Siegel’s doctoral research project, seasoned by over 40 years working as a psychotherapist and shaman. When Siegel started graduate school (she received her doctorate in 2011 from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology), she noticed that she was having spiritual experiences in client settings—spiritual awakening seemed to be a natural outgrowth for many of her clients. She wondered if a therapist’s consciousness could be a catalyst for their client’s transformation within a field of higher, or soul, awareness (pg. xiii). Her questions became an exploratory study to determine if other therapists shared her experiences and what they were seeing with their own client base.
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To read some a bit from the book itself: Excerpted from The Sacred Path of the Therapist: Modern Healing, Ancient Wisdom, and Client Transformation © 2017 by Irene Siegel. Used with the permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company.
The following is from the chapter “Mindfulness, Attunement, and Spiritual Resonance.”
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