Beneath most headaches is a heartache.
It’s a natural protective mechanism of ours to think our way around wounds instead of feeling our way through them. In this day and age, we just want an escape.
What can we do to stop feeling the pain we’re feeling? How can we change ourselves to be more acceptable? How can we numb ourselves to outside forces beyond our control? These are the questions we often grapple with.
No one wants to feel pain. But most of us carry around heavy clouds with us all day. We can’t quite pinpoint what the source of our suffering is – we just know that it hurts. This pain forms the vague backdrop of our lives and is so persistent, yet subtle, that it becomes the new “norm” for us.
What is this chronic suffering, this persistent emptiness, dissatisfaction, and loneliness that we carry around?
What is Soul Loss?
Whenever we suffer physical or emotional trauma, it is said that a part of our Soul flees the body in order to survive the experience. With every cut and wound, our essence and vitality grow weaker. This process is called “Soul Loss.”
Soul Loss is also known, in psychological terms, as dissociation. It’s what happens when we become disconnected from the very Core of ourselves, the source of our vitality, our Soul.
Soul Loss, contrary to popular belief, does not mean literally losing your Soul. Instead, it refers to the experience of losing touch with your Soul.
Your Soul is always there in the backdrop of your life, but it’s not always accessible due to the psychological traumas, abuses, and blockages that have taken root within you.
So how do we regain connection with our Souls? We do this through a practice of inner work, of Soul Retrieval.
What is Soul Retrieval?
Soul Retrieval is a shamanic term that refers to reintegrating lost Soul parts back into a person to create healing. These days, however, Soul Retrieval can be understood as the practice of reintegrating dissociated and repressed parts of the psyche (a Greek word that also means Soul) back into everyday consciousness for greater Wholeness.
There are numerous perceptions of Soul Retrieval, but the one I subscribe to is that of making the unconscious conscious. When a certain part of us is unconscious it can wreak havoc in our lives and starve us of our fundamental vitality. We wind up feeling confused, lost, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed by these shadowy parts of us. By bringing them to consciousness, by practicing Soul Retrieval, we are removing the blockages that obscure our Souls and creating more inner peace and harmony.
Soul Loss and Shamanism
When I was a young boy my Abuela (grandmother), would do something very strange. Every time I fell or hurt myself, she would quickly grab me by the head and whisper into my ear a prayer. This prayer was to call my Soul back.
I was always puzzled by her sudden prayers until she explained to me why she did them. In shamanic cultures, Soul Loss is understood to be a spiritual illness. In other words, when a part of our Soul fragments, all kinds of emotional, physical, and mental diseases occur from the diminishment of our life force energy. It is therefore seen as vital for parts of the Soul to return back to wholeness again.
The difference between the shamanic perspective of Soul Loss and the modern perspective of Soul Loss is that in the shamanic worldview, the Soul can be fragmented, even travel to other dimensions and get lost. However, in the modern perspective, the Soul (or Self) remains whole and intact, but it is our psyche (our mind) that fragments and needs to be healed in order to regain access to the Soul.
Whichever angle you prefer, the reality is that we all experience a level of Soul Loss in our lives. Many people don’t feel whole. Ask yourself this question, “When was the last time I felt absolutely whole and complete?” If you’re like most people, that time may have been back in childhood. Perhaps you can’t even remember a time when you ever felt whole.