Can I Be a Pathwork Helper?
Yesterday our Director of Training at Sevenoaks sent a questionnaire out to our class of 10 helper apprentices. She wants to know where we are in our progress toward helpership, she wants to know how we are doing. When I looked at the questions on the questionnaire, my heart sank. I felt despair. I realized I would never really be a Pathwork helper.
The first question was, “Are you presently working with workers?” Followed by, “Are you teaching Pathwork lecture study?” “Are you assisting in a process group?” “Are you assisting in the Pathwork Transformation Program?” All my answers were “No.”
Though I had assisted in the transformation program for 3 years, and in several 3-4-day workshops, assisting in leading about 500 hours of group work in all, I really saw that I wasn’t launched in my helpership. Something inside was just saying “No” to my being a Pathwork helper.
Yet, as a senior helper I talked to earlier in the week pointed out, my passion for the Pathwork Lectures is rare, even among helpers. He had mirrored back to me my soul’s yearning: “polishing the gem of my understanding of Pathwork spirituality,” as he put it.
So with this passion for Pathwork, what holds me back from becoming a Pathwork helper, from having sessions with workers, from leading process groups or teaching? Fear is one element. When we would practice leading sessions in group, other helper apprentices would have great insights on how to lead a process scene. I felt all thumbs. In fact I felt my total ineptitude in leading a work scene, and my pride would not let me embarrass myself in front of my classmates. My classmates seemed to have all the insights, all the skills of recognizing character structures, knowing where to lead the worker, and rebounding when they were wrong. My pride and perfectionism will not let me risk launching my helpership.
Yet when I am having conversations with friends and family members on matters spiritual, which is a major part of my life these days, our conversations are engaging and enlivening for both of us. Together we plunge into the waters of Mystery with seeming fearlessness. We both leave such conversations, usually 2-hours long or longer, feeling more alive and deeply connected.
Yet these encounters do not fit the mold of “helper sessions.” No money changes hands. Neither of us is a “helper” to the other. We don’t pigeonhole each other by character structure. We don’t theorize on spiritual concepts. It’s just the joy of connection.
The naturalness and energy in such engagements is what feeds my life in the outside world. But it is not my helpership. I do not have “workers” coming to me to be “helped,” though these encounters with friends and family members seem to touch on at least some aspects of helpership.
Recently students in a class in which I was assisting offered these comments to me: “Your energy, love, and spirit made my time there very healing.” Another, “You have a powerful spirit that touches others deeply.” Another, “Your PRESENCE makes a difference in this world.” And yet another. “I benefit from your ESSENCE.”
Yet during the class that evoked these comments I was feeling inept, not knowing what to “do” to lead any work scene. I felt awkward and clumsy. And it seems I was not valuing, or even seeing, these attributes attributed to me by participants. Rather, I was seeing myself as an inept helper because I was not recognizing character structure, or not knowing how in the world to lead a gestalt emotional processing work scene or even to know when one was being called for.
In fact, I find that on some deep level I was resisting reducing helpership to these “tricks of the trade,” as I would call them. My pride would easily thus redefine helpership by diminishing the role of these needed helper skills just to ease my pain of ineptitude.
I return to the conversation I had recently with a senior helper. He spoke of the criticality of being in “helper consciousness” during a helper session with a worker. What did this mean? He said that it meant getting out of the way, coming to the worker with an empty mind and empty personality. Leave your “helper bag of tricks” at the door. Be an empty vessel. No thoughts or interpretations or insights needed. No pigeonholing the worker into some psychological category (such as Myers-Briggs type or Enneagram type) or characterological body structure.
As he spoke, I could see that these categorizations all make the worker less complex than he or she is and less than unique in his or her humanity. And this skill of characterizing, while perhaps making the helper think he or she is now really seeing the worker, in fact may be blinding the helper to what is really there in the worker at a soul level. In characterizing the worker, the helper perhaps is safely in his or her head, thinking the worker to fit such and such a framework, from there “knowing” what to do next, and perhaps possibly not at all truly Present to the worker’s Essence and Soul.
Well now, this being present, as I understand it, I am comfortable doing, or, rather comfortable being! But can this Presence possibly be “enough”? My discomfort in being a helper has been thinking I had to have all the skills of analysis, all the wonderful insights needed to “help” the worker, and at the same time sensing I had none of these prerequisites.
On this mental level I was assessing myself to be incompetent! I was rejecting any value in my simply being present to a worker. In fact I was resisting this idea that being present was key to being a good helper. Intuitively I knew that being a helper was more than and deeper than all these mental skills and insightful processing procedures, but I would not trust this inner authority.
So maybe it is a both/and situation. And just perhaps “the greatest of these is love.” Perhaps I can be a Pathwork Helper. In fact, maybe I AM a Pathwork helper in all the many engagements I have with friends and family members. Maybe being a Pathwork helper is who I am!
I just do not give sessions to workers or lead work scenes in workshops. Why? Because I do not value what is perhaps my greatest gift: Presence. How could I charge money for Presence? To charge money I’d have to have mastered the helpers tricks of the trade. That is my image to get over! “Gary, love is enough! Your Presence is enough!” And perhaps love and presence are what I have been offering all along and simply not seeing these qualities in me or valuing them as they emanate from me. Just perhaps.