Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reflecting on Acceptance

Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.
- Yamamoto Tsunetome

Complete acceptance and profound change are the same.
- Zen saying

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Creating Art with Children

Children create art in an honest and forthright way. It shows how they feel and understand the world. It shows how they interpret their world, which is different than how adults see the world; animals, people, things can be any shape, colour, or size. Their interpretations constantly change as their feelings and ideas change. For children, art activities work best when they are a creative experience that requires original thinking, planning and doing on their behalf.

* Children are not always creating “something”. Often they are in the experience of playing with the paint, colour or shape they are making. By adults asking what something is, this often takes a child out of the experience of just being with the materials. By referring to a child’s art as designs, the young child has a ready answer to the inevitable question by adults, "What is it?” The young child can answer "It's a design!" and can continue playing.

* Children do not create at the same rate. Unfinished work should be left where a child may work on it when she wants to do so.

* Talking about their artwork gives children a greater confidence. Showing a genuine interest in the child's work helps them value their unique way of creating.

* Young children determine the size of things they draw or paint by the importance they wish to give them. A flower may be larger than a building because the flower is more important to the child. This is completely logical to the child - as it is to many professional artists.

* One of the best ways of understanding why art making is important for young children is that it encourages creative expression. We need to provide opportunities for this potential to develop as fully possible.

* Through our actions and attitudes, we convince young children that we have complete faith in their ability to express their own ideas in their own way.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Getting Into the Artists Zone

“ . . . the human condition resides in the details, the sense details.” Robert Butler

Robert Olen Butler in From Where You Dream explains that emotions reside in the senses. We express them in five different ways;
1. Sensual reaction inside our body: temperature, heartbeat, muscle reaction, etc.
2. Body response to the sensual reaction: posture, facial expressions, tone of voice, etc.
3. Experience of emotion: flashes of the past, images, sense impressions.
4. Experience of emotion: flashes of the future, images, like bursts of waking dreams.
5. Sensual selectivity: hundreds of sensual cues, our emotions make the selection.

“Our personalities, our emotions, are expressed in response to the sensual cues around us. We look at the landscape and what we see out there is our deepest emotional inner selves. This is at the heart of a work of art.” Butler writes that an “artist sees the chaos of experience and feels order behind it and creates objects to express that order.”

Butler talks of the self-conscious metavoice that talks to us all the time about what we are doing, who we are, etc. The trick is to stop the metavoice and settle into the sensual flow of experience of the unconscious. He compares this state to a deep dream space. It is also called; flow state, in the zone, timelessness, muscle memory, dream space, sense memory, etc.
How to get into that zone? Butler talks about functional fixedness, which is “that if you have a certain place and certain objects that you associate only with a certain task, eventually the associational values build up in such a way that when you go to that place and engage those objects, you are instantly completely focused on that task.” Once you establish the conditions, you have to write, paint, or create in what way you desire everyday.
“But a work of art is an organic thing. Every detail must organically resonate with every other detail. If you have an intransigent memory-and intransigent is what literal memories are-it sits in the middle of the organic object; it destroys everything around it. Everything in a work must remain malleable, everything must remain negotiable. You need to understand that working from your literal memory will keep you out of your unconscious, out of the zone you must enter.”

How do you stay in the zone?
* You write or create everyday.
* You create functional fixedness.
* Journal about some event that happened during the day by using the 5 ways we respond to emotions.

Monday, May 5, 2008

There Is No Place Like Home!!

Often when we move to a new city or country it can help us undergo transformative change.

The best way to promote growth and healing is to take a trip, to go in search of adventure. Travel through space, whether by land, sea, air or mind is the universal metaphor for change. The hero’s journey creates new futures. New patterns and possibilities emerge. Many cherished beliefs come into question. New strengths, insights and talents unfold. When the journey is over, and you return to where you began, you are faced with new beginnings. You are at a turning point, a place where new paths make themselves known. If the journey is successful, you return a changed person, a hero in your own eyes. - Jeffery Kottler

The most long lasting changes start with simple gestures that make vital contributions to the whole. The small and subtle acts that you perform in your life may effect the most long lasting changes. Living in a new environment sometimes means that a lot of small and subtle acts will be different due to new circumstances.

The most fundamental skill of the creative person is the ability to constantly re-vision the world. Everything is subject to reconstruction and renewal. The “re” factor is the basis of resurrecting, reshaping, regenerating, reviving, and rejuvenating. Creative persons live in a state of constant search and exploration. - Shaun McNiff

Change helps us be in the here and now. Until it becomes familiar there is a freshness, newness in the way we perceive others and ourselves.

Living in the Here and Now:
1. Be present.
2. You can choose your attitude in any set of circumstances.
3. Wherever you go, there you are.
4. Being alive is being in a state of constant search and exploration.
5. Trust the process.
6. Change is an integral, continual process that unfolds throughout your life.
7. Everything is always changing embrace impermanence.
8. Transformation of consciousness is a continuous process.

Creating Change
Iyanla Vanzant expresses the challenge of change in the following quote:
“Often, when you are on the spiritual path, there is a war that goes on between the person that you once were and the person that you are becoming. Some call it “thought patterns.” Others call it “habit.” My experience was that there were two distinct personalities needing to be integrated. The old you, the one who helped you survive, the one that was there for you in the rough times, is going to fight to stay alive. The old you, knows your secrets and your history. The old you, knows your defense mechanisms, what you will do when your buttons get pushed, and exactly where your weaknesses lie. The old you, knows what works for you and is terrified by the thought of trying something new. The old you is comfortable with the way things were and are. The old you, wants to stay in control. The old you has home-court advantage.
The new you, the spiritually conscious, spiritually grounded you, is fumbling around trying to figure out what works now. It is the part of you that has yet to be proven. You may believe strongly, you may want deeply to change, and for your new identity to emerge. But the new you, is not quite sure it will work. It is there, in the glimmer of doubt, that the old you, goes to work. It nags at you. It challenges you. It is called self-doubt and lame excuses. The new you views problems as challenges, knowing that with every problem comes the solution, the way out. The new you is willing the confront challenges and wants to do so in a spirituality grounded way. When, however, the new you, is backed up to a wall, it will, out of habit, borrow from the old you. The instant the borrowing occurs, the new you, is rendered dead, even if it is only for a moment. The challenge is that when the new you is brought back into focus, there is a probably a pile of old-you crap that needs to be cleaned up. I learned the hard way that you must be disciplined, vigilant, and obedient about the practices that will build your spiritual muscles and put the old you to rest.”

What is so fearful about this situation that you have started to act like the “old you”?
What does the “new you” want?
What old issue needs to be faced?

We were meant to move. Our ancestors were wanderers, hunters,, and gatherers. They followed herds and water. They relocated themselves continuously, depending on the weather and seasons. Our very survival once depended on our mobility. On every continent, tribal communities traveled to where the best opportunities lay-they moved or they died. To this day, we carry this legacy within our genes, programmed over millennial.

Friday, May 2, 2008

New Art Therapy Space

Today we are starting the renovations for my new art therapy counselling room and art studio. YEAH!!!!!!!! After moving a few walls, painting, buying some new furniture, and stocking the shelves with exciting art supplies, I will be ready to open my new private practice. Here are the before pictures.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Relationship between practicing Mindfulness and Art Therapy

There are many different paths up the mountain, they all lead to the view.

Practicing mindfulness meditation and creating art mindfully help guide us, calm the storm around our journey and provide an opening for us to access inner strength and wisdom. In these two practices, one uses the breath, the other uses the hand, as anchors to guide and center us. Both practices help create the space inside us in order to follow our spirit and passion. When we can engage fully with the reality of our lives in the present moment, we are practicing mindfulness. By using art as a tool to connect authentically with ourselves, we become available to the moment. “Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression” (Julie Cameron, 1992, p. 82). This center or self that we meet can, through the practice of mindfulness or art therapy, provide a stability and calmness necessary to transform and heal pain.
“Creation requires attention and complete focus. But most of all it demands that we take the plunge into new territory without knowing what will appear” (Shaun Mcniff, 1998, p. 61).
We simply watch, listen, and pay attention without fear or labeling what we are experiencing. We have greater freedom when we detach from reacting to feelings and move into accepting the feelings that pass through us.
When clients become immersed in their art making, their desire to judge their work falls away. They move from seeing their art as good, bad, beautiful, or ugly to being an indication of their present mood or feeling. They begin to see their artwork as process work, always changing, sometimes mysterious and sometimes an authentic glimpse into the depths and beauty of their self. Learning their own unique creative language and engaging in a dialogue with their art becomes an interesting adventure. The safety of creating and seeing large feelings on paper helps clients practice detachment and gain distance from overwhelming feelings. Clients can paint their experience of one feeling state, then another, and then another, and safely stay grounded in their sense of self while they witness and reflect on paper their changing emotions, feelings and thoughts. Rather than be swept away with these changes, the environment of the studio and the art therapist help contain the changing storm around the client.
Practicing mindfulness involves slowing down and turning our awareness inward to witness whatever reactions we are having to the present. To become fully present to our reality we observe and become receptive to whatever arises. A thought, an impulse, or an uneasiness is befriended and followed to see what information is revealed. Anything that emerges can be the source of the therapy session or the meditation practice.


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