Updated: Mar 24
Below is a Q + A with Helene Ramos. Get to know Helene, her work, and why she loves to teach.
Helene Ramos is a Consciousness Practitioner with over 20 years of experience.
Q. Can you please introduce yourself?
A. My name is Helene Ramos and my practice is Unfolding The Tao. It's hard to encapsulate what I do but I often call myself a consciousness practitioner. People who want to work with me are on a path of expanding their consciousness or interested in the mystery of what's leading them through their life. You could say I introduce people to themselves! I have several modalities - tools in my toolkit - to help people become more conscious. I’m also the founder of The Shala Center located in Downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.
Q: Can you list some of those modalities?
A. I'm trained as a process-oriented practitioner. Processwork has its roots in Jungian psychology, Taoism, Shamanism, and somatic (body-oriented) psychology. It is based on symptoms, and increasing awareness. My master's degree in process-oriented psychology informs the way I think about everything. I approach people with curiosity, without pathologizing them or how their process is unfolding. I accept people as they are. My training and experience in many modalities give me practical and spiritual tools to work with the unconscious and conscious mind of the person asking for my help. I'm also certified as a hypnotherapist. I can assist someone to change a habit or help develop their spiritual side. I do the whole complement of hypnotherapy, from medically-based hypnotherapy (to help with a complicated medical problem) to more spiritually focused hypnotherapy (like past life and life between lives regression). I also work with subtle energy fields. Energy work is a broad-based term for working with the human energy field or luminous biofield. I'm a Reiki Master and teacher. I've been doing Reiki for about 20 years and teaching for a little bit less than that. I'm also a Shamanic practitioner. I am familiar with what I call helper energies or vibrational qualities that are found in animals, plants, minerals. If someone is unbalanced energetically, I can bring those energies in as balancing vibrations. With energy practice, you are restoring integral balance and flow to the person's energy system. I’m also certified as a MARI mandala practitioner, which uses artwork, shapes, and colors to map a person's conscious and unconscious process. And, I’ve read Tarot cards since I was 13 and will occasionally do a reading for clients.
Q. Who are most of your clients?
A. Usually, there's something that's awakening within them. Often they are at a stage or have an experience that they can't fit into their normal way of thinking about who they are and what's going on in their world. A lot of my clients consider themselves super sensitive people. They’re empathic, but it's not working very well for them. Some have had a peak experience, where suddenly their normal sense of themselves gets expanded quickly. They don't know how to contextualize that, so they'll come to me to help them with that.
Q. Is there a commonality between the people that come to you?
A. I find that I'm most able to help people who are on some kind of path of expanding their sense of who they are. The way each one opens that door is very, very different.
Q. What are your thoughts about the popular cultural shift towards embracing complementary and alternative therapies?
A. The world is a complex and chaotic place. I think that accepting that we're more than our physical body and that there are other aspects to who we are as individuals, who we are as a species, and who we are as a world community is something that's been building over a long period of time. The time seems to be ripe for this.
That's one of the things that I can help people do: balance their sense of how their spiritual and psychological sides are coming together and integrate that with their experience in the world. I'm able to work with the Western medical model of healthcare and provide support to people through medical support hypnosis, to help them connect their body and mind so that they can work more productively toward health. Stress is an incredible block to being healthy. I have many ways of helping people identify stress and come up with ways that work for them to minimize their stress.
The world is constantly changing. That’s one place where process-oriented psychology comes in. We have a big gathering every three years, where we meet in large groups of 500 people to work on world problems. We examine the dynamics of the things that are dividing us. Sadly, we couldn’t meet this year because of the situation with the Coronavirus but meetings are starting to happen online.
Q. That sounds magical.
A. It is! It can also be tough. When you bring polarities together - people who believe this and believe that - and you facilitate a dialogue, it's not only magical, it can be explosive, but hopefully in a contained and facilitated environment. It can bring progress. I enjoy working with individuals and groups of people in that way - interfacing with the world. Because in my view, and my experience, the problems that we notice in the world are often a reflection of what's happening inside of us. Helene is one of the Founders of Shala located in Downtown Charlottesville. Shala is a community of independent practitioners of the healing art.
Q. I think it’s wonderful you acknowledge we’re real-world beings having a spiritual experience.
A. We're all integral beings. And that's one of the phases you go through. To become a self-actualized person, you must integrate your experience. Where are you as you incorporate that experience? There are many ways to do that. How to do it in a way that's satisfying and that works for you is important. We shouldn’t ignore the fact that we live in a community in some shape or form, whether it's an energetic community or a world community via the internet - it's like a big brain that surrounds our planet. It's a way that we're connected. I think it's increasingly difficult to be actually isolated in our world today. Finding the place where you bring that together for yourself is significant.
Q. Have you found that there are common misconceptions about your modality?
A. I think that many misconceptions are caused by the model that we've adopted in the West. It's not that old of a model, actually, maybe a few hundred years. In this model, the human being is a machine to be understood and dissected in a way that doesn't take into account other aspects than the physical. A lot of Western medicine is based on that. It reduces the human being to chemical and biological interactions and what happens in the physical body. While that's vitally important, there are other dimensions to the person and these dimensions can't be measured by mainstream medicine or science. We're trying to evaluate alternative and complementary therapies using a western science model. I'm not sure how successful that will be, simply because the instruments that we have to measure are not calibrated to the psychological or energetic depth of a person. So much of our way of perceiving the world is in a very narrow manner. I appreciate what science brings and have done experiments where I use scientific methods to measure the effect of things that I do. And yet I know it's inadequate. It's not something that you can capture in a way that you normally see, sense, or measure things. I'm much more interested in the personal experience that someone has because, to me, that experience is a valid way of evaluating the world. One of my teachers, Arnold Mindell, talks about rainbow medicine. It's a weaving together of Western medicine, complementary care, and psychology and that’s what we need!
Q. I think that's where you have to come back to a feeling being, right?
A. Yes, that's the place where personal responsibility intersects with concrete reality, if you will, or communal reality. How can you trust and validate your experience? Sometimes people will just embrace new things and not take their reasoning mind with them. Because that is part of the experience of evaluation. It’s important to consider when a practitioner or teacher says something to me, does it resonate? Or does it not meet my experience or expectations at all. Learn how to trust your deeper nature and take responsibility for what you take in and how you make your decisions. That is a really big issue.
Q. Like discernment?
A. Yes! Discernment is a gift also. That is a part of waking up. I think that’s when people are on their path to awakening, or they're coming to consciousness. That is why I call myself a consciousness facilitator. How can you expand that sense of what it is? How is it like something else that you've experienced? Because as human beings, we're instruments of experience. So we're instruments of perceiving experience and information. When you are entering a room, does it feel open or comfortable here? Do I like it here? You're using your elevated senses, you're expanding your senses, and you're saying, oh, how does this feel to me? How am I receiving this information? How is it being processed in my system? Can I trust it? Can I not trust it? So I think that's part of our reawakening as human beings.
Q. That just blew my mind. I’ve been thinking about consciousness as a destination and not as an expansion of my current position.
A. One helpful way to take in that concept is to think about informational fields. There are fields of information all around us. You can't see them. They're like gravitational fields, or magnetic fields, which we don't see. But they inform our concept of reality. When you're exploring your inner patterns and templates or the world around you, you are interacting with information that's vital and alive. You, as an individual, interact with them all the time. How can you make those interactions empowering? Helene’s helper energies (crystals, feathers, stones, etc) on display at her office. The large vessel is an altarpiece that holds several ceremonial objects.
Q. How did you get into this line of work?
A. I had some big foundational experiences. When I was young, I fell down a flight of steps and had a near-death experience. Then when I was 12 or 13 I had an out-of-body experience. I bring those up because they disturbed my regular sense of the world. At the same time, they opened up for me another way of looking at reality. At the time, I didn't have anyone to talk to about it. So I carried that with me as I developed in the world. That's one thing I hope to be able to provide to people - a nonjudgmental place for them to talk about their experiences so that they can reflect back on them and realize that maybe those experiences are important. I had a successful career for 30 years in advertising and marketing. I had nothing to do with the other world, but then it came back. It circled back in a variety of ways. I realized that I was at a personal choice point, that there was a way I could have continued to go on the regular track. Or I could take a risk and leap. And it is a risk. Because a lot of people don't stand for the things that you can't see. It's easier to stand for the things that everybody can agree upon. Something in my life pulled me toward a path away from conventional jobs. I had to find where my heart was. Where my creative juices were. Where that energy is that you often have as a child when you're looking at the world, and it's fascinating, and you're feeling engaged. Often that gets cut off by expectations of others, or you get funneled into a specific direction. I guess I got lucky that I'd had these foundational experiences that had opened up another dimension of the world for me, and I could remember them very clearly. As I got more comfortable with myself, I realized those experiences were real for me. I didn't need someone to validate them, because I had the experience. And then I could say, well, what does that experience mean? I had to discover what that meant for myself. So, if I look back on it, I can see that thread. And I'm grateful for it. And I can also see how I engaged with what was happening in my life in a way that made my life more full and rich.
Q. So you’re an OG to the Alternative Medicine world?
A. Ha! Yes in a way...you introduced me to that term! But to put it in context, indigenous communities have been doing their work for thousands of years, as long as there have been people on the planet. The Monroe Institute for instance has been working on consciousness outside of the body since the 1940s.
Q. I've heard of them. Someone recommended I check them out. Do you approve of their forum?
A. I've been there twice. They have a particular way of doing things, and they do it well. It's based on sound technology because the person who founded the institute, Bob Monroe, was a “radio guy.” He was into sound. He took that and developed that into something effective. It’s as if in the seed of each approach, the founder there.
In Reiki, for instance, one of the things about Master Usui that what we in the West were taught about him - at least when I came up - is probably not true. I was taught that he had a lot of Western and Christian influence. But that was probably a way of making Reiki more acceptable to us. When I sit with the experience he might have had, because I can't be sure, I see someone looking for a way of healing that was different from what he had previously encountered. And he found that way through his own exploration and experience. Over time, that became codified into something that we call Reiki. Today Reiki is one form of energetic healing but that has always been with us. It's like what you were saying before, it's a brand, right? People will often look to a name because it helps them feel that they know what that is. I might think I know what Shamanism is for instance. But actually, the term is a doorway into an experience.
Q. You were saying that you came back to the joy you had as a kid. What was that joy?
A. For me, it was the experience of being connected to something larger than myself in a way, that I could feel and that made sense to me. It wasn’t that my profession was unsatisfying because I learned a lot. In the long run, though it just wasn't for me. I tried to fit in, and I fit in well, for an extended period until I didn't fit in anymore, because I had changed. In Carlos Castenada’s books, the teacher Don Juan talks about the path with heart. That’s a place of engagement that is above and beyond It wakes up something in you. Maybe it wakes up your original self. A window view from the Shala center located in Downtown Charlottesville.
Q. What do you love the most about the work that you do?
A. I appreciate the moment people connect with something of their original self or their original energy. When they connect back to that original spark, that's very, very satisfying. Again, what my teacher, Arnold Mindell, who developed process work, says is that if you want to meet your guru, get out a picture of yourself as a baby. And look at that baby. That's our greatest teacher because it's before all kinds of acculturation - family acculturation, societal acculturation a little bit even before human acculturation has happened. And there you are. As the original spark, that original divine spark and those moments when I can see it happening for someone, feel really wonderful.
Q. What did you want to be when you're five?
A. I don’t remember, but I can tell you about my childhood dream. The childhood dream is like a template for your life, and I do a lot of work with dreams. In the dream, I'm riding a roller coaster, and I'm alone on the roller coaster, and it's going up and down and feels totally out of control. I'm horribly frightened. I'm alone in the roller coaster car. There's nobody there. I just want to get out of there so badly. So, while still in the dream, I put my fingers to my eyelids and woke myself up. And so I would say that somewhere in my child self is an Awakener.
Q. Can you talk to us a little bit about Shala?
A. Yes, there were four original founding members and although I had the vision, each of the three others contributed to making it a reality. Those three other people have gone on, and they're doing other things now. So I'm the last founding member. Each of our practitioners have individual practices. But Shala is a community space where people can find support, energetic support. There's kind of a commonality of vision that we're here for each other. We're here to help people find what they most need in their lives. We create that atmosphere energetically here at Shala. So it's very important for us to maintain that attitude and atmosphere. And Shala like anything else is evolving. We've been around now for 13 years. It's moved, it has evolved, and I think it's in the process of evolution now. I'm not sure where it's going to go.
Q. How many practitioners are in the Shala?
Q. What are the experiences you have brought here?
A. I like to do group meditations, and you might be familiar with them. I've adapted some distance work in Reiki, to connect with different situations in the world and work on them energetically. We meet virtually as a group, meditate together, and develop certain core qualities that we then share with the planetary field. In Processwork, that's the thing that I was talking about where we do large group facilitated processes. My master's thesis was about evaluating whether those interventions and that facilitation has an effect. I found that they did. Now I don't know what the mechanism of action is. During these large processes, I did measurements with a random number generator. I did find that there was cohesion in the field, which is different than its normal set of circumstances. Usually, a quantum field is random. But I did find that there were moments of cohesion beyond what one could expect, just by chance. So at the moment, that's my way of marrying science - for which I have respect and admiration - with the unseen world.
Q. Do you have these listed on your website?
A. Yeah, if you go to my website, there's a link. My technical advisor was someone from the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies. I like walking in both worlds. Sometimes it's hard to bring them together. But it's interesting.
Q. You were talking about bringing things into yourself as ways of helping what you see outwardly, can you give an example of that?
A. I've led meditations where there have been 10 people in the room; for instance, and an additional five people who aren't in the room. We focus on developing certain essential qualities. So, imagine that each emotion that we experience can be divided into a polarization like and dislike. That's pretty easy. But within each of those polarities, there's a seed of something essential - something we can’t do without it. It’s deeper than what we usually associate with that emotion. It's kind of like when you look at the yin and yang symbol. There's a little bit of the Yin and Yang. Let's say that you want to develop certain qualities like what is the seed quality of love? Is it something pink and fluffy? Or are there other elements that are in that? So if I go into my experience of what that is, there's a sense of expansiveness. But there's also something at the core that's very, very strong. So what we might do in meditation, let's say we're working on the world problem of fragmentation and polarization. We'll want to go into the really strong experience of what love is or the strong experience of what dislike might be to find the essential quality. Dislike might be strong and sharp, making you aware of what is yours and what is not. And that is needed too.
After you have found the essence of the opposites, in that experience, you grow both within you, in your energetic field. In that essence is recognition of something important. That is the seed quality. So once I sense the qualities within my energetic field, I will, through a variety of means generate a larger field within myself, taking it further and further out, and I will share it with the larger quantum field for the purpose of deepening the field. So it's, it's kind of..
Q. Like a ripple...
A. Yeah, it is like a ripple. What is the essence of what is contained within? What's disturbing you about the world? It forces you to confront something that you couldn’t easily identify. Maybe there is something that is essentially powerful, like a diamond. And that diamond is pure and it vibrates. That's what I want to share. It’s important to get beyond the surface level and go down below the place where you're caught by the things that seem to separate you. It's like going down and down and down, and you find what you have in common and that's what we share with the wider field.
If you're doing a Reiki practice on someone, what you're essentially doing is balancing. You're trying to restore flow, right? There are lots of things that you might have to do to achieve that balance and flow and make that connection to the energetic source. Essentially, that's what's happening. The world has gotten out of balance, our planet is wobbling on its axis. How to restore balance? One way is to come down to what is essential and important - the things we all have in common. That's the energy that I want to share with that field. Maybe the field doesn't know what I'm doing or maybe it does. There's an important place where the personal intersects with the larger planetary field and the larger thought field.
Everybody has the thing that they do that they like to do. Maybe the reason there are so many practices and modalities is that people need different things. Everything has a place.
Q. Right, my mom had cancer, and she had chemo, and we're grateful for that.
A. It's really important to look at that because science is a way of looking at the world. It tends to address certain things better than other things. Sometimes you need complementary therapies to address the wholeness of the person. There are many of those because each person is different, and they will respond to different things. Just like they'll respond to different practitioners.