Monday, January 28, 2013

Art Therapy and Weather




Why are we obsessed with liking or disliking the weather when we clearly need to learn to “be with’ it? We can move to a different climate zone, but when we decide to stay where we are, why is it so difficult to accept the weather? I live in an extremely cold area. It snows all winter, the temperature drops below minus 30 Celsius and it always will. So, why are people shocked and dismayed when that happens? Why do we all complain when we have weather conditions that we are well aware will happen and will continue to happen?

I remember visiting some natural hot springs in Hawaii and listening to a man complaining to his friend next to me in the pool. When he was done, his friend said, “If you can’t be happy here in paradise, you can’t be happy anywhere.” She was probably right.

Accepting the impermanence of weather is good practice for accepting the impermanence of life. Learning to be okay with the weather, whether pleasant or unpleasant is good practice for learning to be okay with life. The “isles” of weather reflects the “isness” of life. I have lived in many different climates and environments. In this stage in my life, I just can’t get that worked up over the weather. I have decided that I will practice weather acceptance as a way to further my practice of accepting what is. If I really can’t accept the weather, I will move, but I am well aware that no matter where I am there will be some days of bad weather.

An Art Therapy Exercise for Accepting the Weather

When my partner taught school he had a morning ritual of Calendar Corner. One of the activities was to pick a symbol of the weather and place it on the calendar. There were clouds, a sun, raindrops, snow, ice, and a wind symbol. The children were learning about the changing weather. In this art exercise we are going to play with weather symbols.
Gather some art supplies. Start by getting comfortable, feeling grounded in your chair and noticing your feet and legs. Take a minute to notice your feet. Take some time to relax your feet and let them make contact with the floor. Press your heals into the floor, then the toes. Gently press both sides of your feet into the floor. Now shift your attention to the chair under your legs and buttocks and adjust yourself to get even more comfortable in your chair. Take a deep breath into your stomach. Now move to your chest. Now move your awareness to your hands and arms. Notice if there is any tension and gently release it. Take time to sense into your hands, stretching the fingers. Now, bring awareness to your neck, then your head. Take a few minutes to do a body scan noting where you feel relaxed. Notice where you feel any tension and breathe into those areas. Now gently turn inward, sensing into your inner throat, chest and then resting in the belly area.
Now imagine a hot sunny day. Where in your body do you sense this image? What feelings and thoughts does it invoke? How attached do you feel to this picture? How accepting do you feel of this picture? Now present yourself with an image of a very windy day. It may be a day from your memory or something that you imagine freshly. Notice where in your body this image sits and how it feels. What are your thoughts? How attached do you feel to this kind of weather? How accepting do you feel to this kind of weather? Now imagine a wet rainy day. Envision yourself caught in the rain without an umbrella or raincoat. Notice your body’s reaction and note your thoughts and emotions. How attached do you feel to this picture? How accepting do you feel to this picture? Now, imagine a cold snowy blustery day. See yourself shoveling snow. How does your body react to this image? What thoughts and feelings are you having?
Bring yourself to your paper and art materials and record your reactions to the different weather conditions through image making or words.

4 comments:

Katherine Walker said...

Great blog. If you have a chance, mine is http://imuafilm.blogspot.com/

Karen Wallace said...

Thanks Katherine.

Karen Wallace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Creative Beast said...

LOL! Love that story of the man who can't be happy in Paradise!

It may seem like a silly thing to discuss the weather, but we really do CHOOSE to allow it to affect us, which is truly silly considering that the weather is the weather and there is nothing we can do to change how the weather comes and goes each and every season! You are so right that allowing ourselves to be affected by cold weather in winter or hot weather in summer is rather foolish since these seasons are pretty much the same every year. ;)
Thank you for helping me find a way to face those same old weather changes!

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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