Soul Retrieval is a Shamanic term for healing your relationship with your inner self. Shamanism is an ancient technique for information, transformation and restoration. Working in a similar way as hypnosis, shamanism accesses inner resources for wisdom and insight as well as providing a context to work directly with the emotional, spiritual and energetic aspects of the self. The conscious mind is only a fraction of that which we call the self. Most suffering is rooted in the deeper, less conscious realms of body memory, emotional experience and negative core beliefs. The conscious mind can understand the circumstances which are the cause of emotional or spiritual turmoil, but because the suffering, imbalance or unhealthy patterns exist on an emotional or spiritual plane, the understanding alone cannot produce real or lasting change. One can change how one thinks about the issue, but with hypnosis or shamanism, one can actually change the underlying dynamic at its core.
There is spiritual principle which states “as within, so without.” This is rooted in the Buddhist belief that everything is connected or the idea that “All is One,” on the deepest level. In my understanding, the spiritual level is the causal plane. The idea that what we believe becomes what manifests. What we think can be quite different from what we believe and it is what we believe that determines the choices we make and it is the choices we make which determines the course of our life. So, whether we are aware of it or not, what we believe determines our experience or creates our reality.
For example, Paul is successful in business, handsome, well dressed and ambitious. He has plans for his future and would like to get married. He has no trouble finding women to date, but is disinterested in the ones who really like him and finds himself most attracted to women who are not that interested in him. He says that he is “either breaking hearts or getting his heart broken. I just want to find someone to love who loves me back.” Paul is caught in an unconscious pattern. No matter what he tries, the relationships keep ending up the same way and he doesn’t understand why. On a conscious level Paul believes that he deserves a loving relationship and feels confused and discouraged with what feels like repeated failures and surface connections.
When we bring awareness into the sensations that go along with the “love” Paul feels for the women who are emotionally unavailable to him, it brings us to a child part of himself, a part that was present when his beautiful, businesswoman mother left the family for another man. She divorced his father and rarely spent time with Paul or his brothers after she left. Paul has been unaware of this part of himself. This inner child is very sad and lonely, heartbroken even. The child feels abandoned and unloved, weak and hopeless.
Soul retrieval can heal the relationship that Paul has with this child part of himself. This abandoned child has been buried away from awareness, but has been running the show when Paul gets involved with a women who is similar to his mother. The child is perpetually seeking the unloving mother. The pattern of his childhood trauma repeats, he is unloved and abandoned over and over. He has countered this abandonment by being the abandoner himself from time to time, feeling empowered but unfulfilled, by dating women who care more about him than he does for them. The solution is not in finding the right women, but in becoming the right man internally. This is the work of soul retrieval. One cannot receive externally what one cannot receive internally.
We bring Paul as he is today, a responsible adult, into the scene with the wounded child. How has Paul treated this part of himself? What does this child need? What does Paul need to do or change to provide what this child needs in present time? Is he willing to become a loving parent to this needy child within? How does the child feel about the adult Paul? What needs to happen to create a healthy, supportive, compassionate relationship between Paul and this inner child?
Healing the child within, becoming the caregiver that we always needed, treating our emotional selves with the love and understanding that we seek from others is the key to becoming whole. Through challenging life experiences, trauma, abuse, neglect or ignorance, we split off from essential parts of ourselves. These are soul parts, holding aspects of our own life energy, that have become separated and a source of inner suffering. Originally they were pushed away as a survival tool, but these wounds remain unhealed, stuck always in a place of suffering and need, they do not die but they do not heal either. Often we keep them at bay because they seem so hopeless. The wounded child wants someone to make it better, a caregiver to care for them. The conscious mind knows that the time for that caregiver is passed. It seems hopeless, why bother, it’s just more suffering. But in sealing off these parts of ourselves, we doom them to eternal hopelessness. The solution is to become our own caregivers, to parent ourselves in the way we always hoped for but never received. We are powerless over our childhood experiences, but we have the power to change how we relate to our emotional self today and now is the only time that ever really exists. It is always now.
In a healthy upbringing, the parent loves the child, sees the child accurately and supports the child’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. When the child separate fsrom the parents and matures, the child internalizes the healthy, loving parent and treats themself in the way they were treated by the parent. The new adult treats himself with love and compassion and cares for his needs. This is the goal in soul retrieval, to become your own healthy internal parent, to retrieve and heal the wounded child and help him express his gifts and talents in the world, to allow these gifts and talents to be available to the current adult self. When we end the inner cycle of abuse, neglect, abandonment or despair, the outer cycle resolves itself. There are always hidden gifts and life energy in every self part and feeling more whole and a new source of energy is very common in this work.
When we look deeply at this internal relationship with the child or emotional self, it is common to find that the client treats himself in the same way that he was treated by his caregivers, that he is internally repeating the very abuse that he sought to escape by pushing the child self away in the first place. Thus, Paul’s pattern of falling for women who were emotionally unavailable like his mother. When Paul became willing to care for his abandoned inner child, to be compassionate, supporting and even protective of this child, his inner landscape underwent a radical change. He still felt a particular attraction toward beautiful, successful, women who were not interested in him, but he no longer persued them. He was able to unhook and to open to women who treated him in the way he now treated himself.
More information on soul retrieval can be found in the book, Soul Retrieval, By Sandra Ingerman and in the book, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, by John Bradshaw. I offer soul retrieval work in my San Francisco office and also through phone, Skype and Facetime sessions. I find that this work is as effective in distance sessions as it is in person.