As I am riding the metro to meet Hélène at her workplace for an interview I try to imagine what it is going to be like. I picture a small office, fluorescent lights, her sitting behind a clean desk, with a thick black notebook open in front of her. Her patients sit in two chairs across the room, looking anxiously at the specialist in front of them who supposedly can help them resolve the issues that have been bothering them for years... I don’t know why, but my mind jumps to images of psychiatry and sterility, as if a sterile approach to mental health is necessary to suppress any mental disorder.
When I finally arrive, Hélène greets me with a big smile and a warm presence. She gestures me to come in, and I am surprised to see that her space is nothing like I had imagined. I walk into a large, spacious room that feels comforting right away. A big plant takes up an entire corner with its branches. I notice a pleasant scent of incense in the air. Suddenly I feel like I can let my guard down. This place is alive and it doesn't mind me being there.
Hélène kindly offers me tea and water. Meanwhile, I glance around looking for the thick black notebook full of secrets about peoples’ weird problems, but there is no such notebook in sight. There are flowers, vibrant paintings, and… lots of empty space. As Hélène later explains to me, this space is there so people can move. By moving they can wiggle out of their tension. Via motion they can connect to their source of health and power.
It all feels magical and almost mysterious. As if this is a room where extraordinary secret rituals take place, accessible only to a select few. But this is far from the truth. In fact, Helene’s goal is to share what she knows with as many people as possible. The so called "secret powers" are available to each and everyone. All that's necessary is some curiosity and the willingness to be at once still and fluid, at once vulnerable and strong.
So who is Hélène? We sit down and she tells me about her work.
Hélène Bedel: It is difficult to find an appropriate word to describe what I do. I don’t want to call it healing or coaching, I don’t like that word - coaching. What I do is I create a space into which I welcome people so they can go through their inner process, and I just help it to happen. So I guess you could say that my goal is to be present for people so they can connect to themselves and do whatever they need to do.
Artem Barinov: We are so disconnected from ourselves in the modern world. As someone who understands connection on a deep level, do you have any tips that people can implement into their daily lives to instantly reconnect? Something simple that can be done anywhere and at any time of day?
HB: For me the key word is embodiment. Because nothing happens anywhere else but in the moment. And when you are present, you are present through the body; and what is connecting you to the reality of the here and now is the reality of the bodily sensations. So the way to connect is through embodiment. And you know what is interesting is that most people avoid pain, physical pain. They try to numb the pain, and for me in my space that’s a great gate to open because physical pain is something real and if you listen and say yes to that pain, then you can go deeper and connect. That’s the key. Whatever sensation you are having right now, even if it’s not a pleasant sensation, is a key to open the connection gate and begin the process.
AB: It sounds like there is a lot of emphasis on the process. Can you tell us more about that?
HB: Yes, when I dance for instance, I am not searching for what I should do, or how to look nice. I let myself be danced. Somehow when it’s beautiful it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I just allow it to happen. It’s magical, and my little ego hates it! It wants to control. “I am special, I am so special!” But no, I do what I do and if I am open enough then the magic will take place. My little self is not the source.
AB: Sometimes when I am dancing and I feel like I am doing pretty good I decide to look in the mirror to see how great my dancing is, and the second I see myself it falls apart because I begin to try to control and guide my body.
HB: Yes! I think it’s the same in dance, in music, in writing, in healing. When you let something go through you, it’s easy. You don’t have to struggle.
Sometimes people ask me what to do, how to create. I think the answer is about what not to do. I have no idea what the truth is, so I have no idea what to do. So, to respect the truth, what I can do is stop nourishing bullshit. I don’t know the truth, but I know what is not true. And what is not true are all the stuck ideas in my head, all my beliefs. Anything that is not in motion is bullshit. So what you can do is choose not to keep on doing things that you know, and to dare to open to the unknown and somehow the truth will be revealed. But you have to dare.
When I started my practice 15 years ago, what was preventing me from working a lot were my ideas. I was thinking that it was all about me. I thought that to give myself the permission to be present for people I needed to be like a mixture between the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa. I thought I needed to be perfect to guide people, and of course it was impossible because I was and I am still human, which means totally imperfect with many weaknesses and flaws. So the idea of needing to be someone special to do my work was preventing me from doing it. And what really helped me, and maybe this is something that can help other artists, what really helped me was to accept that it has nothing to do with me. My only responsibility is to be present, to dare to show up, and to be there.
When I started I thought that I had to succeed in helping people, and I didn’t want to fail and blah blah. But now I don’t know what success means. And I don’t know what failure means. I just trust the process and I just accept that as long as something is moving and living, it can transform.
AB: But we want to be in control! We are all about control and controlling other people, controlling outcomes. If we get rid of control, how can we guide the outcomes in the direction that we want?
HB: When you try to control from the place of your mind with your ideas, you are not aligned. If you want to go in the direction that is appropriate, then you have to align yourself by choosing to be actively receptive. It’s not like “Oh I do nothing and I let god do the rest.” No no no no. It’s like you’re aware that you need to be open so that something can happen through you. So you really have to be available. When you are in this place of availability then you follow the proposal. But the proposal doesn’t come from your head because somehow the head is so small and narrow-minded. But if we listen to that life proposal, it’s infinite and then wheeew… But it’s scary. You cannot control. You can only choose to say yes to that proposal, or not.
I remember a guru told me once that when you start saying “I don’t know” you start being in a good place. I remember when I was younger I was full of certainties. I had goals, I knew exactly where I was going, what I wanted to do. And I always had pain in my back, and my belly was uneasy. I had many certainties and my head was really clear but my body wasn’t in good shape. And now I have no idea. I don’t know. But I feel really good and my body is relaxed. So I agree, when you start saying I don’t know you start being in a good place.
AB: I… I don’t know what to say. *laughs*
HB: Thats the funny thing because when you start being in that place of truth, there’s not much to say.
HB: *laughs* Maybe it’s an invitation to stop talking and just do. And, you know, somehow I do believe it’s as simple as that. Just do. It’s funny, because it’s when you are not going through a difficult phase that you realize that you were going through a phase. When I was younger sometimes it was heavy to wake up in the morning. Whatever I had to do, it was heavy. And I realize now it was because I was searching for what to do. I was trying to find out what is the best thing to do today. Oh, “I should do something intelligent,” or “I should do something efficient,” or, you know… And because I was searching for what to do, somehow I was blocked. Because I had this illusion that there was something to do. And it was heavy because it was full of “I should” and “I must” and eh… Now I just do. It’s not a big deal if I go swimming or dancing. It doesn’t matter the shape. It doesn’t matter if you’re dancing or healing or writing. Just do it and somehow god doesn’t give a damn what shape it takes. Life is so much lighter. I can realize now that I am light, how heavy I was when I was struggling to find the right thing to do. I can move freely now.
AB: How did you find the work that you do? Does it have something to do with you specifically? What makes one person more suitable than another to do certain work?
HB: I… I have no idea. You know, it’s like why a rose is a rose and an iris is an iris. We are all unique and I am sure each one has something special to bring to Earth. I am sure about that. There is no flower that is better than another one. But when you are a rose then the best thing you can do is be a rose…
AB: That’s very true. Because when you try to be something else you end up with the result that’s neither good nor true to yourself and you end up depressed and you feel like you didn’t accomplish anything. Or you feel like you accomplished something but you don’t need that accomplishment at all because it doesn’t mean anything to you anymore.
HB: I think it has a lot to do with ideas about what you should be, what people are expecting from you. When we go after an image, we cannot be the Sun that we are. We cannot shine. Nobody can be reduced to an image. It is too small. We are organic, we are changing all the time. We cannot reduce ourselves to an identity.
AB: Yes, we shouldn’t over-identify. Do you find that a lot of your clients identify with their problems when they come to you?
AB: It’s scary because once you put that label on yourself, once you say that you are depressed or sick, you have that label attached to you and that’s what you become. So it’s very important not to hold on to that label.
HB: Yes, we are not a stuck identity locked in time. We are continuously evolving beings, and the reality of who we are always starts now. Who you are starts now. We are not the ideas, we are not the beliefs - we are the space that is continuous. If we identify, we are stuck. It’s a big temptation of the head.
AB: It’s mirrored very closely in the way our society is structured. Because it wants us to know. It’s very difficult. It constrains us.
HB: Society is the dealer of the little self. The little self that needs to grab onto stuff…
AB: Buy stuff… Eat stuff…
HB: Yeah. To fill the gap, to fill the empty space. Whereas being is empty space.
Somehow what is very painful is that we are in a condition that is not linked to our true nature. To put it differently, our condition is human, and we are limited, and we have our body, we are limited in time and space. But our nature is infinite. So it’s very difficult to live in a limited state with the inspiration that we are infinite. And I think the only way to cope with that pull between these polarities is to create. There is so much tension that if you look for the good one, being human or being divine, it’s impossible because we are human and somehow we are also divine. The only way is to dance in between and to create.
After receiving her diploma from the Grande École de Commerce, Hélène Bedel embarked on an international career that allowed her to discover different ways people approach health and wellbeing in different parts of the world. Her initial curiosity later developed into a passion for exploring the depths of the human experience. Over the course of many years of research, Hélène developed and established her own healing practice based on the idea of creating open space for people in which everyone can connect to their own natural source of power.
For more than 15 years Hélène has been working with professional athletes (French sport dancing team, international tennis players), groups and individuals, to help them rediscover themselves and to find balance and establish optimal health.
For Hélène, wellbeing is a question of space, not time. She wants to discourage people from thinking that “It will get better when the weekend comes” or that "It will get better once this project is finished,” “It’s going to be better when…” The best solution is to stop thinking in terms of time, and to start thinking in terms of here and now.
Hélène recently published a book in which she gives practical tips and in-depth guidance on how to transform your life, achieve health, and find peace of mind.