Gateways to the Soul: Inner Work for the Outer World, by Serge Beddington-Behrens
Findhorn Press, 9781644110454, 302 pages, 2020
In his book Gateways to the Soul: Inner Work for the Outer World, Serge Beddington-Behrens shares ways that we can reconnect with our soul through various “gateways” that he has used in client sessions and workshops over his 40 years as a transpersonal psychotherapist. His goal for this book is an invitation; he asks the reader to bring a “new kind of ‘sacred space’ into the way you live your everyday life.”1 Beddington-Behrens gives us a framework for healing by inviting us to move through the book as a “training manual” and use the exercises and questions he includes to create new “gateways” into change and healing.
“In every chapter, therefore, I discuss how we can concretely bring the qualities of this mysterious ‘thing’ called Soul into all aspects of our daily lives and thus enable ourselves to start making them into a sacred practice.”2
Beddington-Behrens begins by sharing his background as part Russian royalty and part wealthy aristocrat. He was educated in what he calls “posh” schools and was growing up to be in an elite part of society. When he read a book by the Indian spiritual teacher Krishnamurti, he began to see the possibility of a different type of life in a different type of world. He knew that he had to change his inner world to make the changes he wanted to see in his outer world.
His first spiritual experience took place when he visited the Scottish spiritual community at Findhorn in his early twenties. He points out that Findhorn was not the large community that it is today, but rather a bunch of “caravans” and a small group of people. This took place in 1967 and he immediately felt at home.
He learned that Findhorn became a “kind of training course to help you to be yourself!”3 Here he learned to ask questions, to confront himself, and to challenge his past conditioning. At the end of the first chapter, he poses questions to help the reader unearth information about inner changes we may want to make. (He also gives us a hint that there will be more questions to come!)
What really interested me about this book was its subtitle about “inner work for the outer world.” It was Gandhi who said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The author really hits home with this idea in every chapter. He asks us to do the inner work in order to see changes in our outer world.
One technique that he taught dealt with regret. He invited the reader to use the breath to release regret. By exhaling regret and inhaling good energy, one can release regrets. He then shared another series of techniques:
“You can also use the four elements of fire, water, earth and air to help you release your regret. You can either use one element that you feel more drawn to, or if you wish, all four. With fire, write down your regret on a piece of paper and then throw it on the fire. As you watch it burn, imagine the regret burning up inside. With water, stand under a shower and imagine the water is flowing through you, flushing out your regret; see it going into the drain and being washed away for good. With earth, lie down on the grass and imagine giving your regret to mother earth and it passing out of you into the soil. With air, stand outside on a windy day and say: ‘Please wind blow my regret out of me.’”4
I used this tool to help myself clear an issue that I had been carrying around with me for several months. Afterwards, I felt lighter and more at peace with myself and the other person involved in the situation.
Another section that really spoke to me was the one entitled “Gateways through Our Dark Side.” As someone who has been doing shadow work for a number of years, I was particularly interested in any new techniques. He first explained that “shadow” is “those parts of ourselves that we are ‘in the dark’ about, that we don’t know we possess.”5 He then went on to share how his father projected parts of his own shadow onto his son and then those shadow aspects became a part of Beddington-Behrens’ own self-image. This summary really touched me:
“What happens when we get negatively projected upon – we can also say ‘regarded in a reductive light’ is that we will often internalize the projections and incorporate them into our own self image. This is often what will have occurred with people who have low self esteem.“6
I see now that my mother projected quite a few traits on me! He then shared with us a concept of “withdrawing our projections” and focusing on our close relationships as the basis for becoming more aware of shadow aspects. At the end of the chapter are questions for journaling and unearthing these shadow aspects. Then, he included a healing exercise where one can take back projections and send positive energy transmissions to anyone involved.
I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and all of the stories about his life. He was very honest about his healing journey and his strengths and weaknesses, and I appreciated his candor. As an Oxford-educated transpersonal psychotherapist, Beddington-Behrens is also a shaman, an activist, and an educator. He teaches worldwide and enjoys homes in both London and Mallorca.
This book is probably best for someone who has been on a spiritual journey for at least a few years. Some of the concepts might be difficult for someone who is new to awakening or new to healing psychological issues in a transpersonal way.
In the back of the book, the author includes a recap of all of the exercises in the book, listed in order and by “gateway” complete with page numbers. This is extremely helpful. He also includes a separate index.
As he was finishing the book, the COVID-19 pandemic began. He mentions it with this interesting point of view:
“My strong hunch is that underneath this seeming curse, lies- if we evolve a long term perspective- a very profound blessing, and that a story or a ‘world of consciousness’ that I have been arguing needs to die, is actually doing so much more quickly, and is therefore quietly creating a space for something new to be born that very much needs to be born. Basically, this pandemic has actually come to save us from ourselves!”7
Thank you, Beddington-Behrens, for a fascinating chronicle of your life and these healing exercises in Gateway to the Soul.
PJ Spur is an author, intuitive, spiritual mentor, astrologer, and hypnotist. She does tarot & oracle card readings, natal chart readings, grief coaching, and relationship healing. She also has hosted a weekly “Coffee & Cards” event with her Soul Compass Community for the past four years. Her book Navigating Grief with Grace is available on Amazon. Learn more at www.dearpj.com