About Paul Weiss and The Whole Health Center
The Whole Health Center was founded in Bar Harbor, Maine in 1981, largely as a vehicle for the teaching and therapeutic work of Paul Weiss. For 40 years, the work of the Center has reflected an evolving vision and integrative model of the physical, spiritual and psychological health of the whole person, and brings together practical therapeutic tools that are rarely integrated in one context. Out of his deep experience with both spiritual disciplines and therapeutic processes, Paul teaches a cross-cultural, practical and integrative spirituality, and he conveys a truly holistic understanding and vision of the multi-level integrity of natural healing and personal growth. Most of our classes and educational activities are offered on behalf of the Wholistic Health Resource Center, Inc., a non-profit organization.
Services at a glance:
- Spiritual and Mental Health Counseling
- Couples Counseling and Communication Skills
- Emotional Recovery and Reintegration Work
- Meditation and Contemplative Skills Training
- Stress Management
- Nutrition, Herbs and Natural Health Counseling
- Orthobionomy, Massage and Neuromuscular Therapy
- Energetic Integration – Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Transformational Breath Work
- Classes, Retreats, Workshops, Groups
Spiritual and Mental Health Counseling
Counseling at The Whole Health Center is always driven by the needs and concerns of the client. It offers the opportunity for rational reflection, problem-solving, and support that we all need from time to time. It is a time for learning new skills and new information, and a time to be heard. It also offers an opportunity, if desired, to be supported in a deeper level of self-exploration and healing. This may include early childhood and ‘inner child’ work; dealing with abuse issues; working with emotional expression and reintegration; and processes of meditation and self-awareness. And it offers a natural and integrated approach to working with depression.
The root meaning of psychotherapy is ‘the healing of the soul.’ At a time when ‘mental health’ is being largely reduced to a medical insurance model, counseling at The Whole Health Center is always concerned with the whole person. We are more than our mind, after all; although it is our mind that structures our experience of conflict, fragmentation and suffering, and often leaves us feeling separate, not only from others, but also from our own natural capacity for love. Clarifying our thought process is useful; but it is at least as important to rediscover who we are when our minds come to rest – to experience that simple capacity for loving awareness and presence that reflects our true nature and our spiritual potential as human beings.
The psycho-therapeutic relationship offers space, safety and support for laying our cards on the table and, in the light of loving awareness, allowing a new order of integration and oneness with self to arise. When we begin to recognize that who we are is more than the ‘story’ we are going through, we are able to bring into our lives a greater wholeness and freedom to grow, and a fuller ability to be present for ourselves and for each other.
See also Spiritual Integration.
Couples Counseling and Communication Skills
The same principle of healing at work within the individual is at work within couples: the creation of more safety, support and space in which each can be more of who they are in the light of loving awareness. Understanding the nature of our own projections and reactivity is also important. Couples who strive for a resolution of conflict while each clings to their cherished ideas of right and wrong, should and shouldn’t, attack and defense, present a classic case of “You can’t get there from here.”
If the motivation is there, a new order of communication between couples can be taught within a supportive and boundaried structure that brings awareness and makes obsolete the reactive mechanisms of attack and defense. Learning to re-own and take responsibility for our feelings, without projecting, allows a new level of receptive listening to occur that grants wholeness to each other. This new alchemy is the foundation for all the other creative challenges of partnering.
See also Authentic Communication.
Emotional Recovery and Reintegration
The healing of our feeling life is essential to our full capacity to be in relationship to life and to others. We split off from parts of our feeling self in response to hurt or disappointment – sometimes even severe abuse – in our earliest years. We create personality adaptations and defenses around these splits that have survival function but become increasingly dysfunctional to a happy and healthy life – and may leave us more likely to abuse or be abused in our adult years.
The healing of our emotional life cannot happen just at the level of talk, or even of insight. To truly heal and re-integrate our emotional life it is necessary to acknowledge, re-feel, and re-grieve these early hurts in the context of our new adult strengths and support systems. This process can be very gentle and also very challenging. It can only happen at the right time for each person.
In emotional integration work we learn, within a completely supportive setting, to relocate, re-identify, and re-express our feelings, gently freeing ourselves from the sentries of fear and shame who guard the gate. It becomes a nourishing and nonjudgmental process of self-exploration in which we declare a blanket amnesty on all our feelings, inviting them to simply arise and present themselves. The process leads not to the chaos of self-abhorrence or endless pain that our ego fears, but rather to a natural release, re-integration and freedom, leaving us feeling more whole in mind and body. For beneath the historic maze of fear and repression we discover our simple born selves, our original and innocent child of light, who shines forth again in our adult lives.
See also Emotional Integration.
Meditation and Contemplative Skills Training
The instinctive, emotional, and rational/cognitive centers of the brain are subject to a lifetime of conditioning that can often lead to mutually reinforcing loops of reactive and dysfunctional thought and behavior. They also screen our capacity to be in the living present. The prefrontal cortex, the most recently evolved part of our human brain, is the seat of both higher integrative functions and the non-reactive awareness that can enable us live more truly in the present with a higher and more unified level of perception and behavior. This is essential for functioning at our most mature human capacity for insight, choice, self-healing, creative problem-solving, and attunement to others and to the world around us; as well as for opening the door to deeper levels of spiritual communion. Meditation and contemplation training teaches us to activate the higher centers of our brain in ways that are natural to us, and which can enable anyone to learn to function at a more mature level of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development.
We have drawn from the historic legacy of contemplative practices and insights from the world’s spiritual and enlightenment traditions; and we have translated these into a practical and accessible program of personal growth and development that can take our psychological work to a new level while deepening our insight into our own humanity and spirituality. These skills may be taught in the context of clinical counseling, or in the context of our numerous retreats, workshops, and classes that draw generously from the treasury of Buddhist and Taoist practices, as well as from insights from the Christian contemplative tradition. We are also happy to welcome the annual visit and vajrayana teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist lama, Anam Thubten Rinpoche.
Understanding the stress response – and bringing balance to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system – is essential to mind/body health. At The Whole Health Center we help our clients understand the nature of their stress patterns, and to gain the skills necessary to make healing changes at all levels – from the spiritual to the physiological. Clients learn not only the practical techniques, but also the nature of the inner choices, that allow relaxation to occur.
The stress management program at The Whole Health Center helps clients address behavior and life style factors, habits of thought and interpretation of reality, and the physiology of stress. Supportive practices include work with the breath, mindfulness and meditation, qi gong, bodywork and other relaxation exercises. It provides a broad, holistic way of seeing the dance of life and the way we engage it.
Nutrition, Herbs and Natural Health Counseling
While orthodox medicine and pharmaceutical research pursues its own important lines of development, a parallel line of research in the world of nutrition and natural medicine also produces new discoveries every day. At The Whole Health Center we try to stay conversant with the latest nutritional and herbal research for the sake of our clients, as well as providing basic and traditional understanding of the role of diet and herbs in maintaining and restoring a strong energetic and biochemical foundation for health.
We also draw on a broad grounding in naturopathic health care practices from East and West that recognize and support the unity of mind/body functioning. We offer an holistic wellness model that is continually integrating all the aspects of our services and class offerings – mind, body, and spirit – as is appropriate to our clients’ goals.
Orthobionomy, Massage and Neuromuscular Therapy
Therapeutic massage at The Whole Health Center includes light, energetic healing, as well as the most expert deep tissue massage and neuromuscular therapy. Orthobionomy provides a profound and gentle approach to releasing muscular stress patterns throughout the body.
Energetic Integration —
Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Transformational Breath Work
Spiritual, emotional, and physical health all encourage the flow of vital energy in the body. Conversely, deliberately cultivating the flow of vital energy helps to resolve toxic congestion on all levels, and helps clear the path for spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health. The breath is central to all our patterns of restriction or release in our energetic functioning. Transformational breath work can have an evolutionary effect on the whole person, and can open the doors for many avenues of growth.
The ancient Chinese science of qi gong (chee gong) also offers a very holistic approach to cultivating and harmonizing our vital energy (qi) through an integration of meditation, breath and gentle movement. Tai chi is, among other things, a form of qi gong. The simple but sophisticated systems of qi gong training embody all the foundational principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Qi gong has therapeutic benefit for those struggling with specific disease symptoms, as well as general self-care benefits for all who practice it.
Paul Weiss has made frequent visits to China, where he has been certified to teach by three different schools of qi gong. The Whole Health Center has an affiliate relationship with the Chinese Taoist Medical Qi Gong Research Institute and Hospital in Beijing, China.
Classes, Retreats, Workshops, Groups
The Whole Health Center has a varying schedule of class offerings and regular workshops and retreats throughout the year, including regular classes in tai chi and qi gong.
Our Life Skills for the 21st Century is a growing folio of offerings in the areas of health and transformation that can be tailored to meet the needs of different groups. Please refer to that section for representative descriptions of classes and workshops that might address your specific interests.
Our True Heart/True Mind retreat is an intensive journey of self-awakening that is held several times a year and draws people from all over the world. Link to True Heart/True Mind for more information, and check our Current Schedule of workshops.
Our Monday night support group has been ongoing for years and offers personal and spiritual support to participants through a mixture of meditation practice, communication exercises, and group sharing processes. Contact us for more information.