My friend and colleague Lisa Mitchell wrote this guest blog post and created an art therapy activity that expands on a guided imagery process we use in Rapid Resolution Therapy to reconnect you with your “Higher Self” or “Inner Light.”
First, recall a memory of a peak experience you’ve had, or if you are working with a client, ask them to recall one of their peak experiences where they felt a sense of awe, peace, or excitement. When recalling the experience, really get into it. Embody it. Bring it to mind in the most vibrant and visceral way.
As you get in touch with those feelings of peace, excitement, and awe, what I believe you are getting in touch with is your own light and beauty. Feelings, physical wounds, and even the cells in your body, come and go. But the “light” inside, your essence, is enduring. It stays and it is always whole and pure. Nothing can harm a beam of Light. So even if someone messed with your body, hurt your feelings, or attacked your thoughts, they never can get your Light. It is indestructible.
You don’t need to have experienced big T trauma in order to lose connection with this light inside. Daily stress, busy-ness, managing families and work, striving for excellence, accomplishing goals, even the normal emotional ups and downs serve to disconnect us. It’s as if we get mixed up about what part of our lives is the foreground and what part is the background. This disconnection from our light happens with therapists, too. We get so involved with the conversation and problems the client is experiencing, we blend in and forget our “light”.
Creating Your Inner Light Image– by Lisa Mitchell
I decided to incorporate Courtney Armstrong’s imagery technique with an art invitation in order to help clients (and myself) really solidify this idea that peak experiences or flow moments are mirrors of “our light”. I wanted to help clients reconnect with this light and to offer them a concrete sense of holding that connection even when times are hard. I also thought that this would be useful for therapists in times when a sense of hope or centeredness gets particularly strained.
I invited clients to honor their peak experiences by creating a goddess shaped figure who could embody all of the sensory memories of that experience. They wrote powerful words like: beauty, bliss, grace, lightness, freedom. They used images from magazines of sun rays and green ferns and mountain peaks. They designed wings from butterfly stamps to depict the sense of soaring and union with angels. They dressed the goddess with sparkling gems and charm strung ribbons. These goddesses were treasures by themselves, and very powerful as an art invitation.
I took it a step further and invited clients to depict the things that steal them away from this “light goddess”. This was an invitation to think about the background noise. The feelings that are very real, yet transient. The paints and papers that made up these backgrounds were chaotic, mismatched, sharp and fast. It was evident that the background could have easily become the main subject had a painting been started from this point.
The final step was to juxtapose the “light goddess” with the background—to really see how the two can exist simultaneously.
The special moments that came from this invitation are beautiful. Clients were reunited with parts of themselves that they have missed for many years. They were able to believe in their light and celebrate it instead of long for something lost. They were able to sort out the background from the foreground, and find a different way of approaching all the chaos and struggle they’d been facing.
In several sessions using this art invitation, I felt that special flow moment—when things feel utterly aligned, exquisitely intense, and full of hope. I decided to use my own art invitation to capture this light that was getting reflected intrapersonally, like a prism, between the client and me.
Join me in making your own “Light Goddess” and background?
Here’s what you need:
Cardstock or medium weight paper
Paint, collage materials, markers
Magazine words and pictures
Glue (I love Gel Medium Matte by Golden)
Goddess template (http://www.theenchantedgallery.com/template3.html)
1. Think of a special moment. List adjectives that describe that moment—how did it feel?
2. Print out the goddess doll template, cut it out, and trace it onto the cardstock.
3. Write your adjectives onto the goddess template.
4. Cut out pictures or paint designs or doodle swirls and lines onto the template. Celebrate her and make her look as if she is embodying your words.
5. Consider making some wings. Use a butterfly stamp or the template wings and decorate those.
6. Add glitter or gems. Maybe even a ribbon sash with charms.
7. Give her a kiss and set her aside to watch you do the 2nd step.
Using a piece of paper bigger than your goddess, paint, draw or collage images to represent the challenges that being a therapists presents to you. Depict the varied emotions, the intensity, the uncertainty and the occasional overwhelm. Put them all in there with gusto. Allow them to be expressed fully.
1. Put the goddess template onto the background page. Notice how the two interact. How she stands out. How her presence changes your perspective on the background.
2. Jot down a few thoughts that you’d like to remember about your art that might be helpful in your work and relationships.
Lisa Mitchell, MFT, ATR, is a registered art therapist, writes, and trains on creativity and therapy. In her private practice, she works with clients and therapists to partner with their creative process. Visit her website at www.innercanvas.com