9 November 2011

Transpersonal Art Therapy Session 1

Sunday 6th November

The session started - Bek asked me to identify any outcomes I wanted or expected by the end of our 5 sessions. There were none really, just journeying, exploration, and perhaps uncovering any issues that are so deeply buried that I am oblivious to them.

I told her that my partner had died last December.

She was incredibly sensitive and intuitive and selected chalk pastels as the medium for me to start with as she felt me to be a very soft, fluid person and the pastels can be blended (oil pastels are better for people with anger, resistance, and hard core emotional issues).

She asked me to use my non-dominant (left) hand and draw the journey from Mark's death to now.

It started as a fuzzy mess out of which came a loopy line that twisted and turned a few times before heading diagonally upwards.

We briefly discussed the journey of grief. It wasn't unfamiliar to her - she had lost her dearly beloved dog a year ago (he was 15 years old) and had experienced wave upon wave of tumultuous emotion over the loss.

In art therapy there is some talking to discuss the issues, the expressive process, the analysis of the art, but it's not intended to be a fully verbal counselling session.

We shifted to gouache paint.

"Where do you want to go from here? Reflect on this for a minute then allow whatever images that arise to find expression through the hand and the paint." (These were not her words, but my poor interpretation of whatever it was she said)

All I could think of was towards the light.

I chose yellow, orange, mauve and a sky blue.

Thinning the yellow with a bucket load of water, I created a pale yellow wash over the entire page, allowing the brush to flow gracefully back and forth rhythmically over the paper in wavy lines. The process of washing the colour over the page was therapeutic in itself - Bek noticed my smile as I let go into the flow of the process.

After covering the page, I added a darker (less diluted) yellow band of 'sky' across the top of the paper. While blending it into the pale yellow wash, it took on a different life and I found myself spreading it down the sides and around the lower corners into a semi circular border.

That was all I wanted to do, any other colours would have polluted it.

When Bek held the little yellow on yellow painting up from a few metres away, I was awestruck.

It was a golden yellow cave - I (the seer of the view) was looking out from a golden cave into a vast and luminous space.

That was all I could see in the painting at the time.

(Three days later I would look at the little painting and quite clearly perceive a glowing orb or sun in the centre of the page. It was no longer a negative shape in relief where the shape of the central area was defined by the surrounding 'cave' shape - my perception was now of a positive spherical shape 'a sun' defined by its own formalist properties.

I'm suddenly experiencing the Rubin vase/profile illusion!

The painting had taken only a few minutes, and when I put down that first wash I had no idea what I was painting or where it would go. It had almost painted itself!

Letting go into the creative process allowed my subconscious desire to move into the light of awareness to manifest symbolically onto the paper.

The painting prompted some discussion about light and love.

I spoke a little more about Mark, and Bek suggested bringing him into the process, using the paint to describe Mark and me together and his presence in my life right now.

This didn't work for me. I ended up painting a heart shape (which mirrored two souls joined together) but didn't feel it was working as a manifestation of my feelings, or my truth.

It was there that I got stuck. I'd run out of steam.

Luckily the session had gone overtime so Bek wound it up.

I can understand how art therapy can facilitate insight so I'm curious to see what will evolve.

As the anniversary of Mark's death is coming up on 13th December, Bek suggested we create a ritual for this over our next couple of sessions.

Talking about myself and my feelings was both challenging and exhausting. It draws upon the Ego, and I'm not at ease with that. I got tired very quickly of listening to my 'self' talk about my 'self'.

But I'll do the rest of the sessions with Bek.

Our next art therapy Sunday session is in a fortnight because I'm heading off for my 3 day retreat to Yorke Peninsula this weekend - which (for me) is much more beneficial to the healing process than art therapy.


Sarah said...

it is so beautiful that when the boundaries opened, you were able to sit in safety (in the cave) and observe the vastness and within a short time could see the source of light from that vastness. I believe that there was no separation from Mark when you began painting. It was, in some way, a false separation to imagine "bringing him into the process." He was never separate.

Thinking of you on retreat this weekend with soft alertness. The discovery of the book in your last post swoops close to my recent experiences.

nobodhi said...

Sarah, your blog continues to remind me that we are kindrid spiritual travellers. While reading The Grace in Dying, I often thought of you and felt compelled to leave a comment on your blog about it. I know this book will be very close to your heart and experiences.

And thank you for your kind, insightful observation about Mark not being separate. At the time I couldn't understand why it felt 'wrong' to try and bring him into the therapy process. Now I do.