Special to Oceanside Star Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011
Whether one calls it psyche, life-force, or essence, the soul is difficult to define. However, regardless of a precise definition, soul is generally agreed upon as the source of meaning in life.
Perhaps one reason the soul is difficult to define is it does not originate from one’s usual process of thinking. Rather, the soul speaks or reveals itself through images. According to Carl Jung, the soul spontaneously makes images. Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, agrees, stating images are the soul’s “native language.”
Images come in the form of dreams, body gestures, intuition and metaphor. What about those sudden images or memories that appear? If your conscious mind did not purposely think them up, then the creative source turns to the soul. When we don’t pay attention to these daily soul whispers, the soul turns the volume up. It now tries to get our attention through disturbing dreams, feelings of depression, addictive behaviour and chronic body distress.
As the gap between how you are living and how your soul wants you to live increases, so does one’s suffering. The poet Rumi stated, “What hurts the soul most is to live without tasting the water of its own essence.”
When we begin to take notice of our moods, gestures, dreams and body sensations, we are moving into relation with soul. A difficulty in working with the soul is the messages often appear to make little sense. This is because the soul speaks using symbols, feelings and metaphor.
Try working with the material in an abstract way, much like you would art, poetry or music. Try to sense the overall feeling and theme. The key is not to interpret or to solve, but to be curious and creative.
Let’s use the image of your pet dog slowly sliding down a cliff while retrieving a stick, leaving the dog perched in a fallen tree. Hold the image. Notice any feelings? ‘Scared, panicky.’ Any body sensations? ‘Heart pounding’. Make associations to your pet, such as ‘joy, innocence, puppy’, or its name.
Then explore the surroundings. ‘Over the cliff, slippery slope, out on a limb, too close to the edge.’ Do the same with any actions. “Playing, fetching, sliding.” Arrange the ideas in sentences. ‘When I play too close to the edge, my joy gets stuck.’ Or, ‘I’m asking my loyalty to fetch something in a risky situation.’
The work now comes by asking, ‘Why is my soul sending me this image now?’ And, ‘What aspect of my Self needs a closer look at?’ In this case, ‘Where in my life am I compromising my joy? Acting risky? Out on a limb?’ Return to the feeling, ‘What risky situation is truly making me panic?’
As you tend your soul, emotions, memories and insights may or may not occur. What is important, though, is that soul has been honoured.