'I had always imagined I'd be an Egyptian princess. But when Denise Linn did it with me, I was a farmer in the mountains near Tipperary'
TALK TIME: EOIN BUTLERtalks to PAULA HUGHESShaman, soul coach and holistic piano instructor
Congratulations on becoming Ireland’s first certified soul coach. Was it a rigorous training process?It was intensive. There were 10 days of studying with a woman called Denise Linn in California. After that, there were lots of emails and conference calls. It’s difficult to describe the work, because it’s such an experiential thing. But it’s very simple and very profound and humbling to be present at.
Would you say that uncertified practitioners risk bringing the entire soul-coaching profession into disrepute?There are lots of other people out there doing soul coaching, yes. But I don’t know what they do. My focus is on doing my own job to the best of my ability. I’m not going to squander my energy on something that isn’t important.
Tell us about Soul Journey. It sounds like a compilation album.Soul Journey is where you bring a client on a guided meditation, so you need to create a safe environment for them to make that journey and hold that space for them. That’s what the soul journey is – bringing you to that space where flickers of intuition can come through, where you suddenly see things differently.
You’ve helped clients regress to past lives?What I do with people is to say, look, let’s journey to a significant moment in a past life that still resonates with you today. Perhaps you have a trust issue, maybe it’s an organisational thing. But its root is not from this lifetime. It’s funny, though. I had always imagined I’d be an Egyptian princess. But when Denise Linn did it with me, I was a farmer in the mountains near Tipperary.
Were you disappointed?I was. But there’s wisdom there, too. One of my clients turned out to have been a child in the Arctic, an Eskimo, who got separated from her parents. She was able to relate this to a problem she was having in her own life, where she was being irrationally protective of her child.
Surely all parents are protective of their children?That was her experience. That’s what she got.
On your website you talk about the wisdom of Native Americans, the Samis of Lapland, ancient Celts and others. Are there any indigenous people whose folk beliefs you don’t endorse?I suppose I went through a period of being a course junkie and trying everything out. And what can happen is that you’re running around getting wonderful insights from wonderful people, but you’re not living your own life. You’re not finding your own wisdom. I think that’s where people have to stay within their own power.
You dabble in Shamanism, too. People have their own paths when it comes to spiritualism. And Shamanism is one of those paths. It’s about connecting with other worlds, forging a relationship with compassionate, wise beings. So it’s extremely powerful. We forget the wealth of ancient wisdom that’s out there.
What kind of places have you been to?In Shamanic terms, there are the lower world, the middle world and the upper world. In the upper world, your guides would be concerned with bigger questions such as “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?” or “What’s my purpose in life?” In the lower world you might ask . . .
Where did I leave the remote control?Yeah, or which tools do I need to do a certain job? It’s very practical and that’s why I love it. I don’t do things that aren’t practical and simple. Say if I’m running a workshop, I’ll tune in and ask what I need to bring with me. And I’ll be told. It might be that I need to bring a particular book, for example. And I won’t know why. But then, sure enough, during the workshop someone will ask a question and I’ll have the book there to check the answer. It never fails.
New Age mysticism has been criticised for focusing more on how we treat ourselves than on how we treat other people. Is that a fair criticism?A lot of people have that perception. They ask, is this all about me? Am I being selfish? But when you get on a plane you’re told that, in the event of decompression, you should put on your own mask first before seeing to other people. It’s no different with soul coaching. If you don’t nurture yourself, then your ability to be present and help others is diminished. Being a mother is bloody tough. Taking a moment out of the day – and it only has to be a moment – to re-centre yourself: that’s not selfish, that’s just survival.
Paula Hughes will conduct a workshop today at Temple Country Retreat and Spa, Co Westmeath. Her next six-week soul-coaching course begins on January 28th. www.oakwhispers.ie