After some initial discussions around thoughts and feelings that had arisen after our first art therapy session, Rebekah decided we wouldn't pursue the direction of involving Mark in the sessions, nor would we work with grief as I was clearly over it and starting to move forward with life.
Rebekah is highly intelligent and sensitive - I am amazed at how intuitively she can pick up on a word or a phrase and identify it as important, then take it somewhere using the most appropriate therapeutic tool. She sensed that her initial suggestion of revisiting the past events wouldn't be helpful for me and would pull me backwards into sorrow against my will.
So she suggested creating a set of symbol cards, to lighten the therapeutic process, create some art, and have some fun with it. Symbol cards are made by drawing or painting a simple shape or symbol onto rectangles of coloured paper (approx 12 x 8cm), then sticking them onto cardboard.
She gave me the subjects of: body, mind, heart and soul/spirit.
I could choose whether to create one symbol to represent my idea of soul and spirit, or I could create two separate symbols. For this exercise, I was happy with soul/spirit being embodied in one symbol.
I sat for about 5 minutes with the blank sheets of coloured paper in front of me.
I waited for symbols to magically appear in my consciousness for each of the subjects.
I asked Rebekah if I could have more time - we would be using these cards in future sessions so I felt it was important to get them right, to have symbols that were personally meaningful and spoke directly to me. Very graciously she said I could use the entire 90 minute session to contemplate and manifest a symbol if I needed that time.
My mind relaxed into the extension of time and although my mental processes seem to be more lingual than visual, it didn't take long for symbols to arise.
And when they arose, their insistance to be recognised as 'the chosen one' was astounding!
I realised then the potency of symbols to influence our subconscious.
The mind symbol emerged first - an EYE. As I drew the eye, I spontaneously placed a star in the centre of the pupil transforming it from an opaque black sphere into an entrance (en-TRANCE) or perhaps more accurately a portal. A star within an eye - a symbol within a symbol, it doubled the meaning. I'm not entirely sure where it emerged from, or how. The starry eye I had drawn stared back at me. It was looking into me. What was it thinking?
The soul/spirit symbol emerged next - I drew a pointy ended yellow STAR on white card. The metaphor was obviously of a bright, sparkling light, illumination, also a symbol for me of ascension, looking down from a higher perspective, a direction finder in the dark of night, I felt the incredible atomic and nuclear density contained within a star's composition...
These first two symbols had connected metaphorically...I had stars in my eyes....
Next the heart. It was too cliche for me to draw a heart shaped symbol to represent the heart, but it wasn't easy to get past this universally recognised symbol. What came to me in a micro moment of inspiration was a TEAR shape. Deep heart felt feelings are often expressed in tears, not just tears of sadness, but also tears of great joy. Overflowing emotion is let out through tears. I drew a yellow tear on blue paper.
And tears come from eyes...yet another symbol connecting to a symbol.
Finding a symbol for the body that I could intuitively connect with took a painfully long time. At first I drew a WAVE - for me a wave represents continuous flowing movement; it also portrays our separate sense of self because we perceive our self as contained within a separate body. But the more I looked at the wave the more uneasy I felt about it. It wasn't providing a direct link or connection for me with the concept of a human body.
I got a bit stuck...I tried some word associations: earth element, substance, ground, physicality, action, vehicle for mind/spirit....
Then I noticed the bunch of sunflowers in the corner of the room that my dear friend had bought for me on the weekend. Their huge happy faces were smiling at me, they were saying 'Notice Me, Notice Me'. There it was - the SUNFLOWER would be my symbol for body. I drew a lovely sunflower with two little leaf arms...perfect. And suddenly my physical body 'embodied' the essence of a smiling sunflower. Considering I eat a huge bowl of sunflower sprouts in my salad every night, its about time I started to manifest their metaphysical sunny properties. My whole body smiled as I drew the happy sunflower, I blossomed.
Rebekah suggested we keep the card with the wave symbol as it contained potent imagery for me - the individual wave rising up out of the ocean believing itself to be separate from the ocean. We don't recognise our oceanness, or that we ARE the ocean.
We don't recognise our sunflowerness either.
So there was my set of 5 symbol cards - creating them was such an interesting and fascinating (and fun) process.
Rebekah explained how we will use them in the coming sessions, but I'm hesitant to repeat this as I didn't quite grasp the implications of the implementation. Apparently the symbol cards provide a powerful tool to identify what areas we are ignoring or not accessing when making decisions or dealing with issues. Listening on all levels (body, mind, heart and spirit) leads to integration and a wholesome, full engagement with self and life. I'm curious to explore how they might work and will hopefully find out in our third session next Sunday.
"Jung believed that symbols are created spontaneously by the psyche. Our dreams are constituted entirely of symbols, which Jung differentiated from signs. Signs include names, emblems or images that point to something known. For instance, the name ‘wife’ is a sign that points to a known person, to this man’s marriage partner. But symbols operate on a different plane, and point to something as yet unknown. The ‘wife’ in a dream points to an interior, psychic reality that does not correspond with outer reality. For Jung, the same word can function as a sign or a symbol, depending on whether or not it is being used by the unconscious to point to internal realities.
A sign is obvious, manifest and can be understood by reason. A symbol, however, is mysterious and can only be discerned by intuition or poetic understanding. It is symbolic knowledge that Jung is concerned with, and he is attracted to what is deep, profound and obscure. The study of signs leads to semiotics, linguistics and discourse analysis. The study of symbols leads to mythology, religion and philosophy. For Jung, the unconscious is not speaking about the external social world, but about the internal psychic plane, which cannot be known directly. It is real in its own right, though not in the sense that we usually designate as real, and symbols are the nearest we can get to approaching this unknown realm."