W E L C O M E
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
This Work, my Passion is deeply influenced by my Experiential Learning and by trainings in Contemplative Psychotherapy, Somatic Relational Psychotherapy, Mindful Yoga & Meditation and Energy Balancing. Below, I share about myself and offer insight into each of these healing therapies. My intention is to engage with open presence and establish a connection that guides and supports genuine Self-Illumination;
ENABLING A WAY FOR YOUR BODY & MIND TO FLOURISH
B I O
“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” Herman Hesse
Looking within has always been my natural inclination. As a teenager I was not disarmed when a friend laughingly questioned what I was doing, as she saw me talking to myself. “You know that’s the first sign of madness” she slighted. I was keenly aware that I was fostering an open dialogue between the confused and insightful parts of myself; cultivating an inner capacity, that would guide me across rugged, interior terrain and through a momentous emotional crisis, that catapulted me into a profound ‘rebirthing’. As I learnt to re-member myself, I experienced an inner and outer unburdening, that redirected me from a career in architecture, to a path of guiding others through their personal and often precarious innerscape.
My own journey, ripe with experiential learning from over the past 30 years, is the foundation I draw from. This includes a 4 year program in Practical Philosophy that reawakened a depth of inner knowing; enabling me to clearly see the conflict between my inner truth and my worldly conditioning. “Ann-Marie! What are you doing in this rat race? You are not a rat!!!” Was the proclamation I ‘heard’ from my inner guidance.
A 20 year self-study of the Pathwork Guide Teachings offering the language of the higher self, lower self and mask, draws parallels to wise mind, ego mind and the adaptive self with its many ‘parts’ that aim toMnavigate our lives. A Diploma in Contemplative Psychotherapy, training in Relational Somatic Psychotherapy, extensive trainings in Hatha and Yin/Insight Yoga, Mindfulness & Compassion Meditation and a synthesis of ‘light touch’ modalities applied as Energy Balancing, provide the templates through which I work. My tenure includes facilitating Emotional Wellness Groups, Mindful Yoga & Meditation classes and workshops and leading Retreats in Mexico, the Caribbean and North America for 20+ years.
In the therapeutic setting, I work, through a multi-modal, body-oriented approach to foster an alliance with individuals, couples and youths. The process seeks to unearth the afflictive emotions, compulsive reactivity and toxic habit patterns that lie at the root of anxiety, depression, relationship issues, traumatic experiences, addictive behaviours and feelings of spiritual disconnect.
“If our time spent hijacked by stress outweighs our time recharging in abundance mode, the wear and tear literally eats away at us from within.” Joe Loizzo
In this blend of Buddhist Psychology and Western Psychotherapy the best of both traditions are woven together. One path reveals that a lack of self-knowing and an absence of mental clarity will guarantee a reactive, conditioned and stressful life. The other recognizes that much of our ‘incapacity’ stems from our history of developmental trauma and insecure attachment.
These causes of suffering and the compulsive behaviours they elicit, can be seen through a caring, open and mindful lens. Such a ‘view’ gives access to understanding and insights that can spontaneously support effective and meaningful change. Cultivating a sincere effort to grow reflective attention and self-accountability, while activating a quality of mindful awareness and warm compassion, enables us to see and feel into our pain and trauma. Clear seeing and feeling raw sensations can free us from remaining trapped in the past and opens our capacity to grow in agency and trust; even amidst the uncertainties of our future.
Drawing from the wealth of these traditions, I engage clients in a psychodynamic therapeutic process and offer guidance and insight, to navigate the inner terrain that must be faced. It is possible to mature psychologically and to realize healing change. Illuminating how your history informs your current life and how you can access your untapped resources to grow agency and secure your psychological well-being, is the journey we can take together.
By relying on our own resources, we acquire mental strength – M Gardiner
SOMATIC RELATIONAL PSYCHOTHERAPY
“Undigested thoughts and feelings can lead to misunderstanding and dis-ease. Illuminating present time experiencing with mindful care, opens a doorway to healing.” Ann-Marie Ahye
This too is a synthesis of modalities. Here, the focus is deeply experiential. Our history of stress and trauma is imprinted in the body. Talk therapy that only engages a cognitive understanding of one’s distress, is likely to be partially effective. Autobiographical memories, immature conclusions that morph into core beliefs, the weight of negative emotional affect and unconscious, implicit memories, all coalesce; habitually manifesting as forms of tension or collapse in the body’s soma. Typically, whatever remains unexpressed, gets stuck; festering as an obstacle or block within the body and psyche.
That which has been denied through fear, suppression or through an unconscious disconnect, is encouraged and supported to have its expression; enabling old, stuck energy to get moving again. As emotional release is accessed through feeling raw sensations, gestures, sound, movement, psychodrama, a real energetic shift and reclaiming of one’s authentic power can unfold. Such experiential processing draws stifled emotions and bodily processes to the surface; completing their expression, dissolving blocks. Further, we recognize that all of our human experiencing happens in the context of relationship; with self and other. And, it is this relational field that may have been disturbed or ‘disabled’ (often in childhood), that needs nourishing repair.
Processing relational conflict in a space that is present-time oriented and presence-centered, can offer a corrective lens, through which old material can be viewed and felt ; enabling new ways of being and expressing to mature and transform our adaptive blueprint.
“One factor that could contribute to making the 21st century an era of peace would be a wider appreciation of the failure to resolve problems by force. The use of force may control people physically, but it won’t change their hearts and minds. You can only do that on the basis of trust and friendship.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Many modern yoga styles taught in the west, appear to have an overemphasis on ‘doing’ the poses; habitually cloaked by an unconscious aggression, that can have the effect of causing bodily and or psychological harm. Gratefully, I have actively sought an inner, receptive approach which is gaining traction, as more people awaken to the need to be kinder towards their bodies and minds.
Since Yoga is understood to be as much attitudinal as it is postural, Mindful Yoga strongly emphasizes fostering a contemplative approach. Such an inner state becomes a safeguard against forcing, grasping and tensing, helping you to uncover a relaxed effort and a growing ability to befriend yourself; beneficial both on and off the mat.
A synthesis of Yin (Stillness) and Yang (Active), Mindful Yoga fosters present moment, bare attention that has a localized or spacious focus; cultivating mindfulness, intimacy and genuine care. The postures become templates; allowing you to ‘drop’ into your body. Steeping in stillness and receptivity, your bones, ligaments and deep fascia are nourished through compression and joint mobility is improved. While, gradual, coherent movement enhances muscle tone, increases strength and boosts energy. Consciously contacting the breath and soma of living sensations, instills a supportive baseline, soothing and toning your nervous system and enables you to ‘arrive’ in the present. No longer tethered to blind habit, you enter a restorative ‘space’ that supports a shift from conditioned doing, forcing and controlling, to an experienceof witnessing, feeling and allowing.
Committed practice can lead to an embodied wakefulness that supports authentic presence; within oneself and towards life.
“Duality is the seed of conflict. But we all have access to a space, an inner space, where there is an end to duality, an end to conflict. This is what meditation teaches us …” B.K.S Iyengar
Meditation offers a lens that invites a shift from the compulsivity of the surface mind to a ‘space’ of clear seeing; providing an open and inclusive awareness of ‘what is’. The chronic mind can be unyielding and in its restlessness, continually reaches outward; wandering with an insatiable appetite. So we start by intentionally slowing down and offering the mind a single focus to which to tether and anchor attention. When not focussed on a specific task, the mind defaults into unconscious, automatic thinking that wanders aimlessly. This looping in the grooves of illusory thoughts and beliefs, generates a conditioned mind that binds one to misperception and the cycle of distressed living.
Moving out of the brain’s Default Mode Network, requires volition; a direct intention. The practice involves a conscious movement back from unconscious straying. And, the healing change is said to be in the ‘return’ to a localized focus or open awareness. This is how mindfulness is cultivated. The flowering of mindfulness is accompanied by a growing patience, kindness, an insightful openness to ‘what is’ and wise compassion.
All of these qualities generate a greater capacity to meet the still and turbulent waters of life.
EMOTIONAL WELLNESS GROUPS
“For discovering one’s own true inner nature, I think one should try to take some time, with quiet and realization, to think more inwardly and to investigate the inner world.” His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Our modern society which promotes chronic speed, achievement and competition, also faces the inevitable fallout; an epidemic of stress. This incessant impulse to look and reach outward, perpetuates a sense of unsatisfactoriness. And, beneath the tip of this iceberg, lies the impact of the human condition; the effects of everyday stress and trauma, the suffering of ageing, sickness and death. Aiming to alleviate such dis-ease, this Process Group facilitates the practice of Self-Inquiry, Meditation and Skillful means.
Honouring the need to look and feel within, is a courageous path. Self-Inquiry is facilitated through taking the time to look at the nature of thoughts, emotions and actions/reactions and recognize whether they are useful now or simply bind you to old wounds and outdated beliefs. While the perception of experience is generated within your mind, and your traumatic history may appear impassable, the mind remains malleable and educable. We can change our minds, literally. And, emotions can be titrated so as to be consciously experienced. As they release, your ‘window of tolerance’ opens. Through cognitive processing, open dialogue and learning skillful tools, honesty and self-awareness are encouraged to grow. Revealing insights help to uncover the immature ego and it’s many masks or parts. You are taught the means to mature and integrate these parts, so as to move out of the conditioned grooves of stress and trauma.
Meditation practice offers the opportunity and support to bare witness to the internal chaos. Gradually clear space emerges, illuminating self-understanding and the release from plaguing thoughts, reactivity and compulsive living. Meditation is shown to reverse the effects of the stress response, discharge emotional toxicity and change brain chemistry to promote enhanced well-being, focus and alertness. A growing wisdom coupled with the spacious clarity arising from meditation, enables a maturing self-awareness to emerge.
AGENCY, SELF-ACCOUNTABILITY AND NOURISHING SELF-COMPASSION
“Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.” Eckhart Tolle
Various trainings in Holistic Massage, Polarity Therapy, Meditation & Healing modalities and my experiential journey of maturing Compassionate Presence, has resulted in this practice of Energy Balancing. Through both light touch and non-physical touch which connects to subtle energy, deep contact is accessed; at a level beyond surface consciousness. Communication with the nervous system and subtle energy channels reveals energy blockages. When these blocks are met with presence and open acceptance, spontaneous re-calibration can arise. What is stuck often begins to yield, unravel and discharge. As subtle stresses dissipate, an inherent ‘clean and renewable’ energy is restored.
The transition from ‘pain body’ toward ‘peace body’ awakens, is nurtured and progressively installed one session at a time.