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: 

Creative spells in nature – New Moon Cleavers 

  
Cleavers is a wonderful herb/weed, which contains many properties beneficial to the body. I have also been enjoying its ‘sticky’ texture when working in the garden and on my allotment. When weeding everything else sticks to it, I found, and makes for an easy carrying and disposal. Fantastic.

I love it’s appearance and it’s texture, a very playful herb in its signature. 

When walking in the woods yesterday on the eve of a New Moon doing some mindful healing and tree talk I was drawn to cleavers once again in the hedgerow. I decided to do a quick spell, small creative piece to coincide with my favourite moon cycle. 

New Moon is all about starting over. It offers an empty opening for things to be planted. Setting goals and intentions for things you wish to be present in your life. Taking cleavers off the hedges and gathering it in my hands I found myself making a ‘wish doll’. I made a small body with a flower crown on top and as I was weaving cleavers round and round the figure I was naming things I would like to work on during the new cycle, wishing for things I would like to be more of in my life and inviting improvements to come in areas of my choice. It made me smile once I finished this quick spell and a feeling of loving comfort came over me. It felt just right to have done this. I left the doll amongst ivy wrapped around a hawthorn trunk asking for protection and growth.

Cleavers is a wonderful herb and here you can look up some of its healing properties. It is easily recognisable, widely available during this time of year and simple to work with. 

https://altnature.com/gallery/cleavers.htm

‘Let it bleed’- intuitive painting

image

This is an intuitive painting I did following my receiving some bad news on Monday. Emotions were stirred up in corners so deep that the next day I was intensely aware I am not the same person. I decided to do a painting to illuminate my inner state and this is the result. Looking at it now I understand some elements of it and the way they are laid out on canvas. I can also see a face, which I actually really like and my intuitive choice of colours speak volumes.

I called it ‘Let it bleed’

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All living in corners dark

Let it bleed

Shine the light on the wounds unseen

Let it bleed

The Divine love overflow is always present

Let it bleed

The love one feels for the whole within

Let it bleed

Emotions, blood, new life, old scars and the voice within

Let it bleed

Good and bad, soft and hard, sharp and blunt, new and old

Let it bleed

Let all the colours of the rainbow shine on the face of Spirit and

Let it bleed

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Feelings are just that – feelings 

When you feel bad do you judge yourself, does self-hatred come in and grips you, do you think you are being punished and your self-critic begins to scream within? These are thoughts, conditions, reactions that you have learnt to have. When really your feelings are just feelings, they are not thoughts or persecutory voices, they are not behaviours and words you heard or seen mirrored to you in the past that you introjected. What you feel is neither good or bad, you just feel.

Feelings are messangers, pointers, guardians which speak to us. They indicate a direction you should take but often it is an invitation to experience something, nothing more or less. Feelings don’t last, they pass, they lessen and go away but only if we stay with them. We so not project bad or good on to them, we do not judge or seek to run away we simply stay. 

I healed through learning to stay with some feelings, which I had labeled as monstrous, bad, threatening in the past. I wanted them out of me as soon as they came in, I despaired in moments of feeling something I thought was going to kill me. I once went within to meet a feeling in my creative imagination, which had a voice, a face, a colour. It was a monstrous dangerous entity as real as you and I and something I had wanted to die for many years. I went to meet it. Yes, I was scared, yes I was resistant but guess what I went there anyway with help of a good therapist who was able to hold whatever was going to come out of my experience.

I saw a magnificent beast, who roared like crazy and was overpowering in every sense of the word, but it held something in its huge and toothy mouth and when I looked closer there was a baby. This monster held a baby in its mouth protective, loving and nurturing. That baby was me and I was content to be looked after by the beast. That image stayed for me and will stay with me forever and I was healed instantly. I never saw my feelings as bad from that point on. There’s always a message, a lesson in something we feel is going to shutter us to pieces. Feelings of anxiety, panic, depression or sadness they are feelings and neither good or bad. They just are and when we drop judgements and conditioned responses to them we switch to being accepting and curious rather than threatened and powerlessness.

I would invite you to think about your feelings and apply the method of allowing holding faith it will pass. Feelings don’t last, they change, transform and go away when we stay with them.

  

Creative imagination technique in magic and healing

Here I would like to share some examples of spontaneous drawings with you to access unconscious and release whatever needs to be seen. No interpretation is often needed, just drawing something out literally can help with feeling lighter, happier, emotional, but releasing. If in personal therapy you can ask your client to interpret through asking questions about each colour, image, shape and size, anything that stands out and how they feel when engaging with their drawing. Non-interpretive and interpretive technique is used in Art therapy with mental health patients, with children in psychotherapy, within transpersonal psychotherapy practice. I use this technique in my practice. It is one of my favourite ways to work and it is always wonderful to see shifts happening and insights coming out of clients’ drawings. I, myself, in my own therapy, experienced huge shifts and transformations through using creative imagination technique and drawings.

It is also used in magic very often, as it is very powerful in ways of accessing material otherwise unseen and unknown/unconscious. It can reveal so much about you and the way you see things, your desires and needs, obstacles and dislikes.

Call it magic, call it therapy or healing whatever it is used for it works wonders for the psyche. I wrote a post earlier on the Fire spell HERE where you can use this technique to release what is no longer wanted. I did the spell myself using a list where I put on paper in words what I wanted to be released and I also did a drawing in a spontaneous way, not a pre-determined way (you can do it that way too), i.e. drawing what you wrote. I just went with the flow without engaging thinking and letting my hand express on paper what is within me having set an intention to release all that needs to go.

Interesting observation was that when I did as list I was surprised that there didn’t seem to be that many things that I needed to release. Words didn’t appear easily, I had to think about what to put. Here is the difference with the drawing, which was so rich in colours and imagery it filled the whole space. You see when your thinking is engaged it blocks the emotional flow of the body, it blocks all the important energetic stuff connected to feelings and memories stored in the body. When drawing spontaneously all that material that needs to come out does flow very freely and in contrast to writing a list one can see just how much is inside and just how much needed to be released. If one stopped at just a list, the job would only be half-done. I hope this explains the power and value of incorporating this technique in your magical workings, personal healing and work with clients.

Here are some of my examples:

Here are some of my favourite drawings from C. Jung’s Red Book when he took a journey through his inner world:

FUTURE CLASSES

Healing with the Elements

elements class cover

Goddess Retrieval

 Goddess retrieval

Music and creative imagination

Music and creative imagination online class