Working with anxiety in a creative way

transforming anxiety

We have many parts within us. Our personality consists of many different qualities. Some parts are at play more actively than others, but that is not to say that if we display, e.g. unemotional behaviour or aggressive ways of interacting, we are devoid of empathy and sensitivity. We simply behave in a certain way because we learnt that behaviour in order to feel safe, survive or be liked. We engage with a certain way of being to gain something. Very often behaviour is based on how we think about something, or rather learnt to think. It might or might not be true. Therapeutic relationship is there not only to try and redefine how one thinks, but also through a relationship look at patterns of behaviour.

From a Transpersonal psychology perspective and my strong belief we are all ‘Whole’ essentially, however through life experiences parts of us get distorted, lost, hidden or rejected. I always say to clients that there is nothing ever wrong with a person/them, it is only that parts of them got a bit lost, broken or distorted depending on what they are experiencing. All of the person is accepted and perceived as a whole. We never want to abandon, reject or try and get rid of anything within us however uncomfortable it feels or negative it appears. Those parts more than anything need our love and attention and the work is to heal those parts by paying attention, listening, engaging with full acceptance and compassion and collect them back into the whole.

Working with anxiety this week the same idea of wholeness underpinned a creative activity where two parts were engaged in a cycle of behaviour deemed as negative and titled as anxiety, which then followed by a panic attack, shame and feeling down. There was a sense of powerlessness about it yet when a client drew a picture of the place where the unpleasant feeling would initially often surface it looked a beautiful golden ball of light, similar to the Sun. When they drew the second image that followed the initial feeling (the image of the Sun) that looked controlling and negative. The sun looked weakened in comparison when it is the Sun that is the place of potential, strength, security and place of belonging. Solar plexus (where the Sun resides) area is our power house, potential and security, our identity in the world.

I asked my client to add something to the image of the Sun to ‘make it feel better’. What did it need to feel less vulnerable, as the client described it, so a more empowering dialogue was possible between my client and the Sun when the feeling came up? They drew a blue circle around it – emotions, safety, and container, a part of the client weakened and abandoned to the mercy of the fierce image above it. It was easy for the other image to control the Sun. The work was to empower the Sun and transform a relationship with it from negative and weak to positively energizing and heart felt.

Using drawings with anxious clients can disengage the mind, which often tells us what we need to do and why and it can feel controlling. We learn to succumb to the mind and create an automatic way of thinking about things, so there is only one route that is available disregarding all the other possibilities. When we quieten the mind and engage with our bodies, where all our emotions live, we witness something much deeper, parts of ourselves that need our attention. Feelings often come up and connect us back to ourselves.

Image source: 

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Healing powers of the Land and music

Anxiety and panic attacks struck me like an unexpected dark storm and my ground began to slide from under my feet. I found myself in a ball of terror unable to go out and without a voice. I was scared to cry, my chest was constricted and tight. There was fear in the whole of my being.

I felt sadness and grief, but no ability to express it, which is directly linked for me with past trauma. I seem to be hooking into this position for a few years running now about this time of year where such energy becomes dense and concentrated and just strikes me motionless and paralyses all life within me. This is also linked to freedom, family obligations, which in no way align with what I believe in and grief and death, which again don’t really belong to me. In this darkness I seem to be unable to find that light, which contradicts the season and what I should be doing.

I guess what I am describing is a sort of hijacking of my ‘light’ and feeling imprisoned by all things irrelevant and hurtful to me. I am beginning of think that changes must occur and, perhaps, this is going to be the biggest challenge yet for me to transform this insight into a reality where I feel contained and safe. I sure don’t want to experience this again come next year. There is work to do.

We are approaching Yule and I have always loved this festival and I love the darkness but in a different way, in a way of needing to go deeper willingly, not being hijacked by stuff irrelevant, and in that sense being stopped from going deeper on my own terms, in my own time, I suppose. This stuff seems to want to keep me on the surface, on a level filled with fear and immobility devoid of heart feeling. My darkness understanding is the opposite yet I can’t seem to get there for I have to deal with stuff that hits me in the face and demands not just my attention but it demands me being in prison and silenced.

Yesterday I was unable to leave my bed after a sleepless night filled with episodes of anxious unrest and fear. My chest felt like a stone, stuck within a place where it felt like my heart would stop beating any minute. Love was draining out of me and anger was present, tears wouldn’t come and breath was barely present. Trapped.

Lying under my blanket I was desperate for a solution, for some hope I would be ok again. I must mention that these attacks are recent phenomenon, even though they began a few years back, they don’t come often, but in recent years becoming frequent and that is how I am able to recognise it now well. I plugged into music (below) and began my journey. I always remember one thing with trauma is a finding a safe place and I began my search allowing surrender to come in.

MUSIC 

As music played I began slowly connecting with my Warrior self. I realised how grounding, Fire energy type music taps into some strength and reassurance within me. I step outside of my body and witness myself out there. It is like looking into a mirror to see yourself from an aspect, which is most needed. This links closely to the personality model of the elements and this one is a Fire side of me, which is in a balanced and healthy state. I notice my breathing changing and I become more engaged with surroundings.

I see myself on the shores of Loch Drummond, exactly here (images below) looking over the view from above and breathing the air deeply into my lungs. The music connected me to the beating of my own heart and I feel myself collecting my senses into a form that is closer to whole.

loch-tummel
Queen’s View, Loch Tummel

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Looking over Loch Tummel

In the next scene I am on my knees on the shore of Loch Tay praying to the element of water, which is so powerful I am in awe of the scenery and my heart beats more and more love into myself and out into the lake.

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Loch Tay, Perthshire, Scotland

On the shores of Lake Laggan as I stand up to my knees in the water tears come and music changes into this MUSIC   I connect with Water element of emotions looking deep within dark waters of the lake.

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Loch Laggan, Highlands, Scotland

I cry and sob and feel myself finally coming into my body as I become aware of my chest rising and falling with each tear and moan within me. It feels good and releasing.

With emotion also comes that deepest yearning for the land within me that I know so well. In this case it became unbearable, which helped the tears come in outbursts of screams and sobs as if my body needed to be ‘scolded’  from inside out. Intensity of emotion opened up my heart and in that deep love of the land within me healing came, release came. I merged with the aspect of myself that is pure, grounded, simple and peaceful. It is that spirit of the land within me that held my hand reassuring my being for I am ok, I will be. I came to my safe place, to the land where my spirit unchanged and untouched lives always and forever. This journey meant so much to me and it was so powerful I am deeply touched by my own inner spirit and wisdom that can guide me out of the darkness whatever happens.

On reflection I can truly say that nothing ever worked as well as the above did in reawakening my heart back to life.

Music by:
Relaxing Nordic/Viking Music – Ótroðinn (Adrian von Ziegler)
The Mermaids Tears (Jeff Victor)
Photos copyright: taken by Raw Pagan (Natalia Clarke) 
Header image: http://crianlarich-hotel.co.uk/

‘A heart in a cage’ dream

Heart_in_a_Cage_by_MichaelFurre

My intentions for this year is to attempt the process of releasing pain that had taken residence within my energetic bodies for a very long time. I have carried it all with devotion and protection. No one ever could or would be allowed to come in.

Expansion into love, beauty, softness and courage is a path I would like to step on this year. Here comes a challenge of not doing everything by myself, not suffering in silence and allowing someone else to show me love and helping me heal. My therapist has a job on her hands that’s for sure.

Last year I managed to learn and embrace the concept of not allowing MORE pain to come in through saying ‘no’ and standing much stronger in my power. It has been very hard, but did pay off in huge ways and I have been able to see and feel the difference in not filling up that ‘pain’ cup, which is inside, with more pain, suffering and negative vibrations. I had been a receiver and a carrier of other people’s traumas and tragedies as much as having my own grief and pain to look after. I learnt to live with it so well to the point it has become the most familiar and safe place to be. I just get pain, I know it, I can carry and hold a lot of it.

My dream last night demonstrated perfectly what is happening within and it shows progress and forward movement in my process. It is so striking that this image should come in already with such clarity of presentation. Things are about to start moving already and it is good news. My heart is in a cage, however, compared with last year when I could not feel, see or find my heart at all, I woke up trembling with my heart beating with such force in my chest I had to lie and absorb that movement for quite a while. It was one of those bitter/sweet experiences, in between joy and sorrow. Last year my heart was frozen, dead even and no amount of healing, meditating, going within would move it. Think Snow Queen, think all archetypes of the wounded feminine, which was once soft, but had to become hard to survive. It was incredibly painful just to be aware of the fact that the heart within me was not alive to the point I could not connect to my body, to the vibration of love, or anything that is softer rather than harder. I know all of these vibrational signatures, I used my intellect to connect with the knowing of it, therefore, through a cognitive understanding I could still function within the emotional realm, yet that disconnection from the physical and emotional bodies had been ‘heart breaking’. To me heartbreak is not only when you feel your heart breaking into million of pieces and you feel the pain physically, but to me, the even harsher tragedy is when you feel nothing at all and unable to connect to what you know is there, yet it is unreachable.

This time, my heart is alive and bleeding in my dream even though it is still in a cage. There might be a piece of glass wedged in it just on the bottom. Last night I could clearly see and feel it. I cried tears of sorrow and joy at the same time, as at least, I felt, saw and experienced my heart again. In a dream it came in a cage. It is not liberated just yet, but at least it is alive. The sensation of it was similar to when you are about to scream and it is stuck in your throat or you see a hand putting a key towards a keyhole, yet you stop right before. It is like that. It is not yet coming out…

What came with the image is a message of how the process is likely to unfold. It will be done with love, softness, courage and seeing beauty in every single thing. It will be done through liberating it, not saving or rescuing. Through giving and receiving love that cage door will begin to open. I will have to be with the bleeding of my own heart for a while, but it is a bitter sweet sensation to me and I know this is necessary to connect with the flow of energy again and it is now accessible. Blood is a sign of life, rebirth and I can feel the new current of life radiating through me. Within that bleeding heart there is love, there is beauty, there is courage and strength.

heart_in_a_cage_by_iluvalldogs8-d3u6858

Heart in a Cage by MichaelFurre

michaelfurre.deviantart.com