anam cara = soul friend
Although I have been in private practice for over 25 years, it is only recently that I have gotten clear about what it is I really do. Not long ago, I decided to address this lack of clarity straight on, so I sat down and got really still and quiet. I went inside myself to bypass my problem-solving mind and asked my deepest source of loving wisdom, “What is my soul’s calling?” And the words that came to me were – “listener, midwife, tender of the soul.” I recognized those words as my purest intention
The very next day, I serendiptously came across two references to the Celtic term, anam cara, translated as soul friend. I was both shocked and delighted that this phrase carried the same sentiment as the description I had heard the day before in answer to my question.
The late Irish author and poet, John O’Donnahue describes an anam cara in his book by the same name as “…a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide… one you could share your innermost self, your mind and your heart…one who understands you as you are without mask or pretension.” (O'Donnahue, 1977)
The anam cara is one who trusts in the uniqueness of each person’s true self – the soul – the part of the self hidden underneath layers of fears and false assumptions. The anam cara holds a safe space as the true self emerges into awareness. And in every step along the way reflects it back to the one emerging.
That’s the best description of my deepest intention as a transpersonal psychotherapist, but I assure you, I bring my own humanity with me. As I do my work, I am clear that I am not the healing agent in the room. That intangible ingredient is more loving and wise than I am. But what I have experienced over the years is that when two people join for the purposes of connection and healing, in some way that I can’t fully understand, through that shared intention, healing is brought to them both.
And the day came when the risk of remaining tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it was to bloom. - Anis Nin