Psychotherapist and counsellor, Tony Africano of The Lindsay Centre. Mt. Lawley, Western Australia, believes that a loss of soul is made evident in the plethora of mental illnesses, depression, anxiety, stress and suicide that pervades society today in epidemic proportions. He states that violence and wars are also a reflection of a loss of soul which leaves society at the mercy of basic primal drives.
But what is soul? In his book “Care of the Soul”, Thomas Moore declares that the soul is impossible to define. “ Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway; the soul prefers to imagine. We know intuitively that the soul has to do with genuineness and depth…”
Tony Africano believes that soul is a very individual and personal experience that underlies our personality and character at a really deep level. He explains that soul is not our body or our thoughts and feelings, which come and go, but that which inhabits the body in a mystical sense that reminds us of the awe and majesty of life. He believes that when people are in touch with their souls this is a pivotal point, a catalyst to transcend their own limitations and afflictions to embrace all things. “Soul is a spiritual dimension within the self that helps us connect to aspects of the world that are greater than ourselves. It is something that enlivens and revitalises us”.
The vast majority of people attending doctors surgeries around Australia today are seeking a “quick fix” to take their pain and suffering away. They believe that “popping a pill” is the answer to their problems. But Elio Frattaroli, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and author of the book “Healing the Soul in the Age of the brain” argues: “We need a science that acknowledges mental illness not merely as a chemical imbalance in the brain, but…as a wake- up call for the soul”.
I asked Tony Africano just how can we alleviate our pain and suffering and get in touch with our souls? He explained that we have to do the work. We need to listen to our souls. We need to pay attention to what is going on inside our bodies. We can do this by working with a psychotherapist or counsellor who would treat the whole person and not just the symptom.
And we can also approach soul consciousness by every day pursuits such as walking, meditating, writing poetry, reading a book, working in the garden or virtually anything that we enjoy and that can help us focus on our inner selves rather than the outside world. Once, as children, we had soul but as we grew, developing unfulfilled lives in work and play, our souls were put on the back- burner until they were lost.
“ Nancy”, a lovely lady seeking a change of career in the second half of her life related that overwhelming stress due to intensive study had depleted her immune system leaving her open to a serious middle ear infection which developed into an influenza. On top of this she developed tinnitus and insomnia. With constant ringing in her ears and no sleep, she was at her wits end and had thoughts of suicide. Her doctor wanted to prescribe sleeping tablets and anti-depressants but she refused, opting instead to walking herself well. When everyone else was sleeping she would take her Jack Russel dog and walk the streets of her suburb. When the ringing in her ears drove her mad she walked, and walked. Deep within her she knew why she was sick, she had overloaded her body and drugs were not the answer. She instinctively knew that her ill health was temporary and she would get through it. She was in touch with her soul.
When the soul cries out in pain through a mass of overwhelming symptoms, it is because it because its deepest needs are not being attended to. Material wealth and temporary coping strategies will not silence the soul. Only courage, strength and the grace to listen inwardly to what your soul is saying.
In his work Tony finds that soul consciousness has helped him to empathically connect to the suffering of others by providing himself with an independent clarity and strength in the notion that we are not just our immediate experience. “And in understanding another person’s inner experience, we have to go to that internal, indefinable place where experiencing happens.”
A human being is more than the sum of its’ tangible parts. Human beings are so much more than their bodies or their brains’, they have a soul as well. The human soul cannot be seen under a microscope or measured and categorised within a laboratory. It cannot be seen outwardly like our computer screens, television sets or other people but it is there, deep within us.
Becoming soul-conscious is a deep-seated experiencing, that we can choose to ignore to our detriment, or we can work with to find a source of wisdom and intuition that expands our consciousness, bringing with it an authenticity of self that in turn brings access to love, compassion and joy which is the source of inner peace.
Contributed by: Carole Lyden