Sunday, August 31, 2008
Change has a pattern. We each move through this pattern in a familiar and unique way. First, there is ascent. If we want to change a pattern in our life this is the exciting period, filled with fear and excitement. At this stage, we focus on what changes we want to make, we create the intent or action plan, and we form a vision or desire of what we want. In art classes I see people making a commitment to act on becoming an artist or develop their art further. In the therapy room I see clients commit to act on moving into change and/or healing. At this stage, people need support, information, encouragement, and a plan of action.
The next stage is descent. This is the period of hard work where people face and heal fears and wounding, learn to work with and lessen their anxiety, and learn how to take action towards the desired goal, even when it feels like nothing is happening.
The final state is integration. This is a time of acceptance and manifestation of your dream and/or change. These three stages take time, different states of mind/body and need different resources and support.
I just finished teaching a weeklong art course and I watched people working in all three stages. The people in their ascent stage were discovering who they are as artists, taking the risk to explore, dream and dive into their creative realm. Those working at the descent stage were trying to push their work further into a deeper development. Those artists who were working in their integration period were enjoying the process and exploring the relationship they want to have with their artist side at this moment.
Ascent: risk, passion, acceptance, excitement, and fear of unknown
Descent: reflection, transition, sacrifices, struggle
Integration: understanding, equanimity, gratitude
Ascent: This is the stage when you build the fires. You need to feel very ready, passionate and open to embrace your dream in order to move ahead. Your vision will help sustain you when you are in the period of descent. You need to come out of this stage with a strong conviction, intent plan and image of what you want for yourself.
Therapist: helps by facilitating your process of creating an intent map or vision of where you want to go, be or manifest. She acts as a guide and provides you with resources, information and the means to move forward towards your goal. She helps you access your inner and outer resources that are already in your life [or that you may need to add to your life] that can support and nurture you through this change or growth period.
Descent: This is the stage where you work to change the pattern that you are already functioning in to allow for the newness that you want to embrace. Therapy intends to create association with the disconnected parts of the self. The autonomic nervous system can learn to self-regulate again through 'repairs' that transform the activation of the system. You learn to access your felt sense and release residual tension. This means that whatever was holding you back fear, loss, or shame can be understood and dealt with so you can move ahead in your life with more energy.
This is the time in an artist’s life when you have to work hard to develop your talent, study, work with other artists, learn patience and have faith that the hours that you spend in the studio will help develop your skill.
Therapist: helps by guiding you to work with felt sense to learn self-regulation and awareness. She helps you express freely in the moment what comes up, move into ‘not knowing’ in the murky stage and stay with loss, mourning or whatever the body/mind presents. She shows you how to hold the tension between working with the crisis and holding on to the vision that you had for yourself in the ascent stage.
Integration: This is the stage in therapy where you have made peace with your self. There has been a shift or movement from a feeling of being isolated from or repressing parts of self to a fuller appreciation, acceptance or awareness of the whole self. There is more awareness, energy and inner support and ability to move ahead in your life or relax, listen to your inner voice and feel peace and equanimity.
In the life of an artist, there may be a sense of finally believing that you are an artist, feeling that your work is good enough, and a decision to giving your work more exposure. This may mean having shows or a comment to yourself to having more time in your life for art making.
Therapist: helps by guiding the integration of the old/new self, provides ideas for the regeneration, supports the movement into deeper inner awareness, knowing, and presence. The client or artist moves into their way of ‘trusting the process”
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
August is a month for slowing down. It is time to join the slow movement. Carl Honore wrote “In Praise of Slowness” a few years ago. It explores our fast pace of living and gives compelling reasons why we should slow down. When I am ‘not doing’ somehow life gets richer, fuller and I am more present.
Our breath and heartbeat are constant reminders of life’s pulsing rhythm that moves within and around us.When we slow down, we are more aware of the natural daily rhythms and the moon, the changes in temperature from day to night and from season to season, and by our own internal rhythm. The body rhythms are called circadian rhythms. These signal and affect every aspect of our life, for example, they govern when to wake up, to sleep, to be active and they determine how much energy we have. These circadian rhythms are as predictable as clockwork – that is why we are said to have a bodyclock.
If we don’t listen to our bodies and to that little voice in our head that is telling us to slow down we may succumb to the myriad of health conditions that are a result of leading fast, stressful lives. The biological and psychological costs of ignoring stress are staggering, manifesting in cardiovascular and other systemic diseases and even, new research shows, in accelerated aging. To be simplistic, the solution is to pay attention, on purpose, in a systematic way, in the present moment. That is, we need to be mindful.
Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “Mindfulness is a certain way of paying attention that is healing, that is restorative, that is reminding you of who you actually are so that you don’t wind up getting entrained into being a human doing rather than a human being.”
When we practice mindfulness in our everyday life we are then predisposed to greater emotional intelligence and balance and therefore to greater happiness. This is a great month is go slow.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I started learning about infrared saunas when I was doing research for my clients who suffered from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Infrared saunas have been proven to bring relief to people suffering from arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and certain skin conditions.
Infrared saunas are used to provide heat all over the body for relaxation, pain relief, to lower blood pressure and much more. It is usually a small wooden room, containing several infrared heaters. The sauna box creates the atmosphere of the sauna while the heaters provide the actual infrared therapy. The infrared heater produces radiant energy, which is the same as the heat from the sun, only without the harmful ultraviolet rays. Infrared radiant heat penetrates more than 1.5 inches (40 mm) into the body. The wavelengths of far infrared waves are typically between 5.8 and 1000 micrometers. This is supposed to correspond to the vibration of the water molecule at 9.4 micrometers. Because these vibrations are similar, say promoters, the infrared rays help knock toxins loose from fat cells into the body, and those toxins are then released through sweating. Researchers claim this heals and stimulates tissues, and that it is effective therapy for arthritis and tissue injuries. Because the skin is the largest organ of the body, regularly sweating in an infrared sauna can help decrease the toxic load and contribute to better health and vitality. Heavy Metal detoxification is something that everyone should consider.
I bought a sauna when I first moved to Saskatchewan, last September to help with the dry, cold winter. I have been really impressed with how relaxed I feel after sessions. One of my favorite ways to use it is right after a run. I do think it has enhanced my overall health. Right now I have a summer cold, and after not using it for a few weeks, [since September I have used it three to four times a week] I am impressed with how it has helped relieve my cold symptoms.
I usually use it for 30 minutes and it can be a wonderful place to meditate, with lavender oil burning in the aromatherapy dispenser and a meditative CD playing. After almost a year of use I can honestly say it has been one of my best investments for my health. Check them out for yourself if you haven’t already done so.
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- Karen Wallace
- Karen Wallace M.Ed. BCATR is an art therapist, artist, and art instructor living and working in Regina SK. Canada. She has a private practice with adults and children and specializes in depression, trauma, life transition and abuse work. She facilitates art therapy, creativity and art groups. She teaches internationally. She shows her mixed media art in galleries in Regina, Victoria B.C. and the Gulf Islands. Karen is known for her enthusiastic and dynamic teaching style. Her workshops are rich, playful and creative. Karen’s art work is a reflection of her art therapy work. She expresses her love of nature, her practice of Buddhism and her family in her art. Web site: www.islandnet.com/~kwallace