What is Soulwork?
From Hazrat Pir Moineddin Jablonski
Deepen your compassion. Love the wounded places in you that need healing. Open yourself to the grace of illumination. Give freely of your joy. Share your neighbor’s burden. Through all these avenues, discover your Soul.
May all beings be well! May all beings be happy! Peace, Peace, Peace.
The Use of Costumes in a Soulwork Retreat by Jeri Anne Hampton
After a guided Soulwork session in a group retreat, participants use movement, journaling, or art materials to process their experiences and gain more intuitive insight from the right side of the brain and the non-verbal aspects of their inner family.
In the same way, the dynamics of an individual’s inner family at the current time become clearer from a few days with the group and a few group Soulwork sessions. At that point it can be very helpful to use costumes and props to communicate to the group visually, verbally and using body language, what the individual is experiencing. An opportunity to display a part of the psyche which is usually held in check can be very liberating, and sometimes a costume allows a feeling of freedom to try on a different persona. Participants can dramatize what they are struggling with, what their goals are, and how they see themselves. They might convey insights they have had, or add a little humor to the intensity they feel. All of this can build compassion and understanding which brings the group members closer together.
One retreat began Thursday night with a mystery visitor who burst in wearing a costume and carrying a broom and danced with one of the providers and told us she was here to sweep our hearts clean of dust. When she was done, she whirled out with her broom. Mariam came in a few minutes later in her regular clothes, and feigned disappointment that she had missed the visitor. We were all delighted and entertained and curious about what would happen in the rest of the weekend. Then we were told on Friday that there would be a time for sharing on Saturday night - people were invited to think of a skit, sing a song, write a poem, read from their journal, or show a picture they had made during the retreat. While there was no pressure to wear a costume, or even to present anything, there were costumes, props, and scarves hanging in the hall all day Friday and Saturday, and people were looking at them during break times and thinking about what they might share. The results were memorable and delightful.
On our trip to Bali which lasted two weeks, we had minimal costume supplies available but plenty of experiences and participants were very creative in finding ways to dress to portray their inner experiences.
The important thing is that the costumes serve as a meaningful aid to expression of inner experience and the participant’s intention for the retreat, not just putting on something silly as a child might from a costume box. An appropriate use of silliness might be the case of someone who feels she is too serious, and too worried about what others think of her. She might step outside her boundaries and wear clown pants and a jester’s hat and then it would be meaningful for her to try being silly in public for a change, and experience the laughter of others in a safe supportive group.
Examples of other common items that can support Soulwork theatrics are listed below:
A raincoat or rain poncho for protection, for wanting to develop the ability to let criticism roll off like water off a duck’s back.
A bathrobe and pillow for someone who wants to focus more on their dreams.
A royal coat of a ruler or emperor for someone who wants to develop mastery and self discipline over their inner kingdom.
A riding crop, boots and helmet for someone who aspires to quiet the wild horse of the mind and learn how to be the rider.
A dowdy house dress over a glamorous dress underneath, so someone can transform from low self esteem to their radiant unique self within. Ya Muiz!
A fisherman’s vest for someone trying to reel in a resistant part of themselves which has been lost in the depths.
A tee-shirt with a positive slogan like “Life is good” for someone who wants to focus on seeing the positive - adjusting his or her attitude. Ya Shakur!
A sparkling hat or turban and glittery jacket for someone to pretend to look into his or her crystal ball to see through the veils to find a vague mysterious part of self emerging. Binoculars.
A teddy Bear and jump rope, or ball, for someone wanting to be more in touch with their inner child.
A crown or a gold scarf to give a suggestion of a crown. Discovering our regal inner birthright.
Formal wear and a royal dress or robe can be the inner prince or princess who was never seen or recognized - Ya Malik
Scarves and shawls can be veils for someone who wants to "lift the veils" to see and understand.
Belly dancer jingles and scarves for someone who wants to get more in touch with their sensual nature and Venusian feminine self. Belly dance is an ancient portrayal of the birth of a baby, so it also could be used to symbolize a birth of the individual.
Long full skirts and scarves or shawls for men who want to dramatize their female self,
men’s clothes, ties, vests or Amazon costume for women who want to portray their male self.
Wild hats with feathers, feather boas, capes and pirate hats, a sword, for people who want to live beyond limiting rules internalized in childhood, to daringly step outside and live with passion.
A play sword for cutting through difficulties, obstacles, and many other possibilities.
Cowboy hats, bandanas, rope for rounding up those pesky selves that resist coming to Hochma’s table and even sabotage the other selves efforts.
Furry animal costume for getting in touch with the body self and primal needs. (or furry slippers) to symbolize the “lower nature.”
White clothing, robes, for those desiring purification and following in the footsteps of the saints and illuminated souls. Wreaths of leaves or flowers to wear on the head.
Capes for the super hero in us, the activist.
Workout clothes for the person who wants to work on themselves more through spiritual practice. Or who is resolved to get more exercise!
Medical scrubs, stethoscope, policeman’s hat, hats from any other occupation provide food for the imagination of dynamics in the inner family- someone may find a use for them.
Then with some ribbon, and safety pins, bobby pins, people can put things together.
Below are several articles on Soulwork by Pir Moineddin, Yahya Ali Nadler, and Zahira Noor Ann Gill
A Description of Soulwork by Moineddin
Soulwork Article by Zahira Noor Anne Gill
Soulwork Article by Susanna Nadler (below)
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