Whole Person Approach (WPA): the power of combining mind, heart, body and soul

Corporate speak is a sort of newspeak. Jargon is the norm and it is all very “rational”. “Emotions”, especially in the UK, should be left outside the office door. Anything that says otherwise is seen as wishy-washy and a bit hippie.

The overvaluation of the power of the mind, over the power of the heart is often accompanied with a despise of the unconscious knowledge of the body and an invisible auto-censoring ban to look into or talk about our soul.

The modern business trend is to ignore the ancient wisdom that our “full” selves encompass four elements: mind, heart, body and soul. We spend almost half of our days at work, and the pressure to pretend we are just “rational” human beings is having devastating effects in our societies. Not surprisingly we are seeing increasing levels of mental illness, high blood pressure diseases, burnouts and chronic fatigue.

There are, however, a few groups that are working to change the image of what a modern “professional business” person should be like. One of these is the Oasis School of Human Relations. For over 30 years, they have been helping people and organisations to make sense of their world, develop themselves and their future.

According to Oasis, the old ways we have relied upon no longer hold. There is a “new way” that encourages dialogue, participation, collaboration and much more. It is arduous, challenging, radical, and yet intensely rewarding.

That is why they developed the Whole Person Approach (WPA), enabling people to bring more of themselves to their lives, work and communities. WPA works with all aspects of the person (intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual), the system they operate within, and the inter-relationship between them, including people and planet.

Isabela Souza, our Principal Consultant, has engaged with Oasis for over ten years. Initially receiving coaching, then training as a Whole Person Facilitator and becoming an Oasis’ Associate. We apply the WPA in all aspects of our work and relationship with clients in both international aid programmes and academia / executive leadership.

For us, the WPA is a way to balance the forces of the mind, heart, body and soul (as the main picture in this post). This unleashes the power within each of us and promote our connection with ourselves, the ones around us, the planet and the universe we inhabit.

We got used to the strange looks on people’s faces when we first talked about these four elements in a business setting. With a few minutes of conversation we usually convert their puzzled looks into curious looks. It is very rewarding when they engage with us and there is a genuine exchange and connection. The power that comes with a “whole person” is much stronger than what it would have been if only one part of that person was present.

Isabela Souza

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