counselling psychotherapy

In Conversation with The Soulful Woman

the soulful woman retreat

‘Women are often the emotional, psychological and spiritual hubs of their relationships, families and communities. They are the centre. They hold it all together. But they need to also be cared for in return. Prioritising our own health and wellbeing, our own inner life, is no longer optional for women. It is the key to living a life of joy and contentment.’ The Soulful Woman

A few weekends ago, I took time out from my busy life to retreat with The Soulful Woman. The retreat was set in the natural Australian bush setting of the beautiful Yanada Retreat Centre near Wiseman’s Ferry (pictured). Having attended two of The Soulful Woman’s Day Soul Spas, this longer weekend retreat was an absolute delight and exactly what I needed to slow down, replenish and pay attention to my soul.

The Soulful Woman is a visionary collaboration between Shushann Movsessian and Gemma Summers, both transpersonal psychotherapists and coaches working in their Sydney private practices. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Shushann and Gemma. Read on to find out more about The Soulful Woman.

Please tell us about The Soulful Woman, your vision and your approach to women’s health and well-being

Our vision is to support and nourish women’s emotional and spiritual life through inspiration, guidance and education. We assist women to change their lives, pursue their dreams and visions and develop their soul and spiritual life.

We also provide teachings on women’s psychology and spirituality through our online products and programs, our facebook page and website, and through offering retreats and soul life coaching. Our approach is holistic and contemporary, blending modern psychological approaches with healing modalities and spiritual awareness.

We are living in busy times and many women feel stressed, overwhelmed and disconnected. This is often as a result of being stretched too thin and giving too much of themselves to others. What are the implications of this on women’s health and well-being?

Our body’s response to chronic stress is to release hormones such as cortisol, which is known to adversely affect all systems of the body, including the immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems. Stress also impacts our mental health and emotional wellbeing and can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety, along with irritability and resentment.

Most significantly for our work with women, chronic stress arises from over-giving and being time poor. This robs women of the opportunity to develop their inner life, to focus on their own healing, self-care and creativity and to nourish themselves spiritually.

Why is it important for women to take time out to retreat and what are the benefits they take away from attending one of your retreats?

We know that many women are often caught up in a cycle of  over-giving, never feeling they can get off the treadmill of life. We believe it’s more difficult to pursue dreams, heal ourselves, or create change when our energy is low or depleted.

Taking time and space for retreat, whether or not we go away or create retreat time in our own home is a powerful way to replenish ourself. We need to be resourced on an inner level in order to access our inner guidance and manifest our desires and dreams.

We’re still caught up in a male-oriented paradigm of achievement through straining, striving and over-functioning. This works up to a point. Beyond that it leads to burn out and stress for most women. In our work, we teach and support women to rebalance themselves through sacred practices, taking time and space for themselves, and being guided from within. This more feminine path brings instant relief to most women and often yields better results as women stop pushing or having to constantly prove themselves. They then start turning their attention inwards and connecting to their own inner being and the calling of their own unique journey.

You have mentioned sacred practice. Can you tell us more about this and why it is essential to women’s health and well-being?

Sacred Practices are practices that nourish our soul life. They might include things such as prayer or meditation, journalling and contemplation, mantra, being in nature, yoga, movement or dance, music or art. Things that restore and replenish us on an inner level and allow us to connect with our inner being in a meaningful way. They help us release stress, come into the moment, and connect with our essence, our soul, our spiritual consciousness. These practices are an antidote to fear and anxiety, stress and judgement, and build inner resiliency in uncertain times. Most importantly, they allow us to develop a relationship to our inner self, where all our answers reside.

Is there a simple daily practice or ritual you could share with us at home?

A daily practice of Gratitude and Appreciation has wonderful therapeutic benefits and soothes and harmonises our brain, heart and body. When we consciously shift our attention to feelings of appreciation for the things we enjoy and value, we slow the brain down and relax the rhythm of our heart. Imagining positive events and experiences releases oxytocin, helping us to feel safer and more connected to life. This is a good practice to do in bed at the end of the day.

Take time to reflect on the day and savour those things that you appreciate about the day. These things may be simple or small things that pass mostly unnoticed. But the heart knows what’s worthy of your gratitude and appreciation, everything from the little pot of parsley sitting on your kitchen window, to the unexpected gift of money that came in the mail, to a smile on the face of someone you love. It is essentially through the heart that we practice gratitude and appreciation, shaping and re-wiring the brain as we go. The heart provides the transformative energies of love and appreciation, which makes this practice so healing and effective.

About  Gemma and Shushann

Shushann and Gemma PicGemma and Shushann are the founders of The Soulful Woman and are seasoned psychotherapists and retreat leaders. They are teachers of women’s psychology and spirituality, blending ancient and modern, Eastern and Western approaches to soul life, personal growth and healing. For many years now they have followed the path of the mystic and enjoy being seekers of higher experience, awe and wonder. Their work is holistic, contemporary, well-researched, grounded and embodied.


About Jodie

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Sydney counsellor, soul-centred life-coach and psychotherapist Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

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