by Anne Gill
Soulwork is a model of psychological and spiritual counselling which can be done individually or in a group. It was developed by Moineddin Carl Jablonski (1942 -2001). He served as CEO of the Sufi Ruhaniat International for thirty years. This is a branch of Universal Sufism to which I belong. In the last twenty years of his life Moineddin was faced with immense physical challenges because of kidney failure. He had two kidney transplants. Soulwork is drawn from transpersonal psychologies ranging from shamanic models, especially Hawaiian Huna, to modern integrative therapies such as Psychosynthesis and Internal Family Systems. It is about befriending and engaging with all parts of the inner self as an integrated community and is a way of freeing the body, heart and soul into greater presence and embodied spirituality. It is both an approach to spiritual practice as well as a method of psycho-spiritual counselling.
One difference between Soulwork and traditional psychotherapy is that sessions occur less frequently. There is the need for absorption time between each session to allow for the integration of supraconscious, conscious and subconscious reality. Individual sessions take between one and one and a half hours and involve connecting with a basic template of High Self, Male and Female Selves, Child Self, Body Self, Doctor/Teacher/Healer Self and Judge selves. Personal ancestors may also appear and take part in the dialogue and healing.The facilitator calls on each self to be present with love and respect and they are encouraged to voice their present reality and needs.
As the work unfolds, material from painful/numb/frozen places in the psyche is gently released.Through the assistance of the trained facilitator, the participant is guided into the place between the two worlds, conscious and unconscious, which allows access to both subconscious and supraconscious. From a place of deep relaxed breath and grounding, there is access to inner guidance and the wisdom that lives within each human being. On the group level, meditation, walking, art, movement, dance, breath practises, writing, music, art work and poetry, all become expressive components of this work.
In Soulwork we are working in two directions. As we learn to connect to the wise beings and prophets who have travelled before us, we find we are more able to connect clearly to our own spiritual guidance.This connection allows us learn how to bring spiritual states more deeply into everyday life –to heal the emotional and psychological challenges we bring into our present lives and relationships from our birth families and perhaps from longer ago.
I was introduced to Soulwork by my Sufi guide and teacher, Mariam Baker whom Moineddin appointed as his spiritual successor to develop this work. Initially I had individual sessions, both fact-to-face and on the phone. I went on to do many retreats of which Group Soul Work was a component. Eventually I trained to facilitate both individual and group Soulwork. I find Soulwork a way of working which honours our many dimensions. I like the way in which contact is made with whatever spiritual guidance is meaningful to us, and through the work I have developed a genuine relationship with my Higher Self. The work always starts with deep relaxation and connection with the breath. The work has facilitated much inner growth for me. My Male Self initially was shadowy and undeveloped. He has now grown to more fullness. I have done more healing around pre and perinatal issues such as umbilical cord trauma and the first breath. Further healing light has been shed onto ancestral pain which I carried particularly in the female line. I have connected in a more complete way with the dissociated parts of myself and befriended them. Most importantly I have more connection with my soul and much greater access to joy and gratitude. Soulwork uses many Sufi tools for healing – breathing practises, movement, energy work, body awareness, Wasifas (pathways of the heart based on the 99 names of God), dances of remembrance or zikr, and a connection to past guides. All of these help create the accommodation for healing on a deep level.
In a recent session , a client came feeling frozen in relation to an important piece of writing she needed to do. We agreed that Soulwork was appropriate. So we began by resourcing, looking internally for some image or memory which connected her to wholeness and health. What came to her was the image of a pulsating heart. We then did a depth relaxation and connected with her guides. We then asked High Self to be present. She connected with her child self who was about six. She was well and joyful and connected with her heart. However Female Self was very sad and a memory surfaced of when she was eleven. She was told to stop dancing in the garden as she was ‘too old for that now’. There was somatic release as that memory surfaced. Doctor/Teacher/Healer self recommended that in this piece of writing she needed to work from the heart. A helpful practice came to me at the end of the session – the wasifa Ya Wahab. This is about connecting with the ever present flow of grace, the eternal bestowal of blessing, from before we are born until after we leave this body. We did the body prayer connected with this which involves breathing Ya Waa into the heart, and feeling it coming to the top of your head. Then, as you exhale, feel the sound Haab showering over you like a fountain. Which part of your being is waiting to bathe in this waterfall of blessing? After the session the client felt more able to tackle her writing assignment.
Moineddin wrote poetry which is published in the book A Gift of Life. The second half was written after his two kidney transplants, both of which were from young girls. This poem is called ‘Me and my Shadow’.
I divided myself in two. Heaven from the chest up, Everything below the belt dark and unworthy. White on black for forty Years. Then my shadow Showed. Yelled, To hell with this! Either I get included or I blow you apart!
Anne Gill is an accredited counsellor and supervisor with IAHIP. She is also a spiritual guide in the Ruhaniat, a Western Sufi movement.
Jablonski, M. A Gift of Life . www.ruhaniat.org. The Sufi Book of Life: 99 pathways of the, Douglas-Klotz, N. Heart for the Modern Dervish. New York: Penguin.