Fragmented

A quarter of the way through my Level 4 Counselling Diploma and four months into Art Psychotherapy (it is a course requirement to be supported by therapy or counselling during training) – I guess I am bound to be feeling rather fragmented through self-examination. I have to be honest, I’m not loving it – but I am deep ‘in it’ and rapidly learning about myself. This is really hard.

Learning about different psychological methods is one thing – I’ve learnt something about Psychosynthesis, Transactional Analysis, Ecopsychology – always Person Centred (this is the core theoretical framework for the course) and of course I’m experiencing Art Therapy – but the group process and my personal therapy feels endless and deeply challenging. Alterations are happening on a sub-conscious level that I only realise when my conscious actions relating to areas I am working on such as abandonment anxiety feel much easier (yay!)

When I’m drawing directly from the sub-conscious, my art takes on a very different quality (see below) which I find fascinating. The images -as you can see – are simply executed, but I feel that despite their simplicity they are strongly emotional. What do you think?

I question everything- why am I even training in counselling? Is it simply a knee-jerk response to my early experiences? I feel fragmented, everything is being taken apart, examined, then being discarded or reinserted. I believe this is a quality of my Psychotherapy. The Person Centred Counselling I experienced for three years transmuted an effect of self actualisation – this feels far more empowering. I’m wondering reader – what are your experiences – do you agree with my hypothesis?

 

 

 

The Final Battle

It has taken me a while to enter the close of The Warrior and The Healer painting because rather appropriately I have been off, lost in a battle, which in turn has enabled me to see the power of my voice, knowledge and experience. Which in turn has led to systemic changes in an organisation I was working for.
But the battle has left its wounds and its scars which are now healing, finally I am well enough to reflect.
Before the last battle cry my painting was finished. It’s power apparent. My heart chakra finally located, the work needed to open it identified. My surgeon was my art psychotherapist.

Together we came to the point in my history at which its energy became clogged up. I worked through a visualisation process in which a ruby , formed around my heart – previously located in former counselling sessions – was again located (you can see this in the painting) and its protective case shattered. Out came a two and a half year old me and we entered into discourse about what had happened that formed the beginnings of my attachment anxiety.
I made a little doll representing two and a half year old Lorraine, but I present here an image of her scanned, as this image I feel represents her ‘entombed’ in my heart better.
Please note; I write openly about the process of counselling/therapy and about the emotional wounds I carry. I do this to dispel fear and raise awareness. Firstly working in this deep way with ourselves, although it may seem weird, is to work with the subconscious. The subconscious works in symbols – images, like we experience in our dreams. Dreams, art, visualisation are all doorways to the subconscious where our experiences have been stored and quite often supressed. We have to be careful and aware working in this way which is why I would only do this work with trained counsellors/therapists and why my workshops are carefully structured and supported by trained leaders.
Secondly, I write about my own emotional wounds and experiences because we all have them. We all have emotions that are difficult to ‘be’ with. We seem to live in a world where we may feel we need to ‘be strong’ and kind of impenetrable but this is not what it is to be emotional human beings.

 

The Ending and New Beginnings
Since this work I have been interested to ‘feel’ so much more around my heart chakra. Before I was very in tune with my ‘gut’ feelings – my solar plexus. My heart feels very raw at times. It aches, it bursts with love and connection, and it harbours anxiety. It needs protection. So now I enter a series of artworks, working with this energised heart space…..so…ummm..I guess…watch this space! Xxx

 

Warrior 1

A couple of years ago I started paintings depicting what my chakras looked like. I worked my way from the base chakra to my solar plexus and got stuck! I just couldn’t get that heart chakra set free! So I jumped to my crown chakra, which came easily. This is typical of us humans… we find it hard to sit with our feelings in our bodies so we jump to our heads to distract our thoughts away from what is painful.

Finally after a long process of working through attachment anxiety issues, lots of drawings and journaling, I get to paint out my heart chakra. As with many of my own healing paintings this one has been through several phases and each layer has embodied learning and healing.

The initial vision for the painting was to paint myself and my Mum, reflecting each other. We have a deep connection but we both have a lot of fire and I wanted to paint out my recognition of the love, toil, but most of all the gifts – by which I mean what I learn from our relationship about myself.

But as I started painting two archetypes appeared – The Healer and The Warrior. First of all I wanted to heal my Mum and say sorry through the process of the painting, but as I went on I realised these were sub-personalities working within me.

I posted the picture on Facebook and much to my amazement an old school friend who now lives in Japan messaged me an inspiring response. The healer/warrior resonated deeply with him and his experiences. He is a bujutsu student (a form of martial arts) and he told me lots of different forms of the healer and warrior being one and the same in the East. For example Takuan Soho who was a zen master and swordsman 1573-1645 who talked about the life giving and life taking sword. Also the jujitsu schools of Koryo teaching ‘kappo and sappo’ healing and killing. Finally in China where jujitsu originates kung fu and chinese medicine are taught together. Hmmm. Interesting how the healer in my painting has a distinctly Manga style, interesting how the painting embodies both actions.

Mark also sent me a video of his bujutsu teacher in action. Notice how the teacher focuses his power on the heart Chakra area, like in my painting. here

Healer and Warrior painting – phase 1

Close up of painting at this time – notice healer’s arm submerged in black hole of warrior’s chest.

The Best Laid Plans

So there was a plan to take you through a map of my process, but in the names of authenticity and immediacy what is current today feels relevant.

The pictures attached show the painting I am in process with. The Healer and The Warrior are taking me on a journey. The initial vision was to paint something of the reflective qualities I experience in my relationship with my Mother. As the painting took shape these two archetypes appeared – two opposite sub personalities (ref Carl Jung). The experiences that I am living keep presenting how those aspects of myself are relevant. In one experience I am a warrior defending my boundaries, then I am the healer, soothing myself from the ‘battle’ that occurred in order for those boundaries to be maintained for example.

As part of my counselling diploma I have to be supported by a therapist or counsellor. I have chosen to work with an Art Therapist to explore the art psychodynamic process of therapy and how that can be worked into my Person Centered (see Carl Rogers) training and previous experience as a client. I am battling trying to amalgamate my established visual language with my new learning. One of the current themes is ‘why do I take other’s opinions so readily?’  A suggestion was to sit in all different types of emotion and explore them (which I do/have done – but could perhaps do more.)

Where I’m at is bringing some of this into my current artwork. The blue, watery parts of the painting are the feelings of resting peacefully this afternoon. The pink/black/blue is the tussling over how to work with someone else’s ideas. I think the whole flow of the painting examines the dual aspects of the painting: watery soothing vs firey fighting to get ‘fit’ or heal old wounds.

 

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Can you paint from your soul?

If my quest was going to have a starting point I guess the question ‘Can You paint from your soul?’ would be the most concrete beginning of my spiritual path.

Right from the days of my fine art degree I knew a deeper place existed to explore but I didn’t know how to get there – where even, was the map?

Artists like Anish Kapoor, Wassily Kandinsky, Mark Rothko spoke to me – distant voices from far off places – spirituality – Kapoor, the sub conscious – Kandinsky ( synaesthesia ), tortured terrains of overwhelming emotion – Rothko.

Why paint what is ordinary – a landscape for example? Far more interesting to paint what you can’t see; the barely tangible. Why travel to distant lands and explore the world when the subconscious, soul, spirit is a never ending multiverse?

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