What is Life Awakening about? And how did I come to devise and write this concept?
Life Awakening began, believe it or not, during training in CBT for Trauma, when I found myself sitting at a table next to a colleague on a training day. You could call it synchronicity, being in the right place at the right time or simply coincidence. We had in the past briefly debated the merits of CBT and Gestalt therapy but we didn’t know much more about each other’s hidden interests in healing. As the day progressed, sparks and ideas began flying between us about how we could use what we know for helping people with trauma and we debated excitedly through the breaks and scribbled notes to each other during the sessions.
The evidence that post traumatic growth means that people who have faced death more often than not are irrevocably changed, excited me. They tend to be less materialistic, to value friends and family, to be more focused on finding meaning in their lives. I remembered clients and friends who often said, “My accident / bump on the head / divorce / illness was the best thing that happened to me.” Why did they say this? It seems they were referring to the benefits of post traumatic growth.
Given that these measured positive outcomes of trauma match The Top Five Regrets of the Dying (documented by Bronnie Ware) my colleague and I wondered if there was any way for our ‘lives to flash before our eyes’, without nearly dying? Wouldn’t it be good to be able to get back on track before a disaster brought us to our senses?
While we were both specialists in trauma, we came from different orientations and we were both engaged in interesting research – Jillian was studying the body in psychotherapy and I was studying ‘intuition’ and unknown-knowing. During the day we discovered that we both were individually pursuing interests in body work and the less explainable healing taking place under the name of spiritual or energetic therapy.
We started to discuss the idea of a life review – popular in many cultures is the idea we go through a life review after death – and whether this could be used in a therapeutic setting. We began to look at the importance of finding meaning, reviewing our knowledge of existential therapy and religious belief systems. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we thought, if we could work with people and help them gain the benefits of trauma, if we could review our lives without dying or nearly dying?
We were looking for an approach that would give us post-traumatic benefits:
People who Have Experienced Post-Traumatic Growth Say Five Things:
by Stephen Joseph
Following the training we arranged to go away, to research and write and to meet up a few months later to exchange ideas. At our next meeting the Human Trinity Principles were born. We were really blessed to have a fast succession of ideas and inspirations, we drew diagrams, we brainstormed bullet points and we believe we brought all our individual training and years of experience into one concept. Using our different skills, I wrote voraciously and Jillian helped me make these writings readable, understandable and into a logical training order so that they could later be used within a professional training structure.
The premise of a Life Awakening life review is that in a structured process a person can gain insight similar to the life review process that many believe happens when we die. Life Awakening is the only therapeutic life review with a chronological structure as far as we know. We have now run 14 workshops, trainings and talks – the next is June 20th & 21st 2015 – and without exception participants have all benefitted, usually more than expected, read a few testimonials here. We’ve brought to this all we know (the tip of the iceberg) about body, mind and spirit. The work so far seems to have filled our hopes of being able to gain some of the benefits of trauma without experiencing trauma.
As therapists we cannot know everything about each therapy, and believe me we tried! Between us we have studied Person Centered Therapy, Gestalt therapy, Psychological Counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Animal assisted therapy, Psychosynthesis, shamanism, kinesiology, Zero Balancing, energy healing, reiki, therapeutic touch, laughter therapy, integrative therapy, authentic movement, somatic therapy and more. Between us we bring 40 years worth of study to the creation of Life Awakening.
The idea is that through using our structured process, the ‘seeker’ (we don’t use the word client or patient) comes to strengthen and increasingly use their Inner Voice to choose which direction, which discipline, which therapy is right for them from moment to moment. The facilitator needs to be impartial and non-judgmental. The facilitator needs not to judge that their own preferred therapeutic orientation is superior to another. Each seeker is unique so their therapy needs to be unique. One seeker may realise they need to go on holiday or join a dance class, another may need a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or to see a nutritionist, some may need psychotherapy and others may need assertiveness training.
All of us need to become more self knowing and self accepting and Life Awakening truly does this. The power for healing comes from deeper self knowledge and deeper self acceptance, not from a therapist.
Life Awakening is designed to take the power away from a therapist, or a therapy, a theory, or an approach and to empower the seeker.
After all, the person who knows you, who was with you every minute of your life, who will be with you after your therapy is over, and after the Life Awakening programme, is you. My form of psychotherapy is good, and effective but your Inner Voice is to be trusted even more. And so my form of therapy now is centered on strengthening your Inner Voice, trusting you not just me.
Life Awakening is not therapy; it’s self development, meditations, exercises. You can undertake it at home, online or with a therapist. By far the best results we have had so far are in workshops. Our next one runs in June beginning at tea time on Friday 19th and running for the Saturday and Sunday. The sessions are fun, and quite often mind-blowing. The facilitators are qualified and experienced and you can read their biographies here. Most people undertake the programme for personal development but a few are interested in applying this approach to their professional work as a counsellor, therapist, healer.