Transformation

People reach out to me as a therapist when they feel stuck.   Something isn’t working. Something is wrong.  I’m suffering.  I’m in pain.  My heart is broken.  I feel so flat. Nothing seems to matter much to me any more.   I want my life to change.

Now, if you’ve being hanging around on Planet Earth for a few years you’ll know by now that the path through life isn’t guaranteed to be a smooth one and life for many people often involves pain, suffering, disappointment and misery at some point or the other. Often on the way to our dream life we find that something goes wrong, something gets lost in translation and life doesn’t quite work out the way we thought it was meant to. We can’t control what happens to us (no matter how much New Age Positive Thinking we do).  We can only control how we decide to respond to it.  How we allow it to shape us or define us.

Often people tell me that they want something different in their lives to the reality of what is.  And that is where their pain resides.  It is the gap between what is actually happening and what they wish was happening.  Trauma shapes the way we perceive the world around us, how we interpret social situations, how we translate events, and the narratives we create to keep ourselves safe. There are so many pieces to this puzzle of reality it is hard to know where to focus.  And it is our focus that transforms our experience of reality.

Often we claim we want to transform our lives but transformation involves surrender, acceptance and a willingness to change our story about who we are, what we believe about ourselves and what we think about the world around us.  We can’t demand that others change and expect not to do the work ourselves.

And yet, so often, what we say we want and what we are really open to are very different things.  Caroline Myss wrote a wonderful article on this topic that made me nod my head in agreement as I read it.  Click here to read it for yourself   As usual, she nails it.  So many of us claim we want to change but in reality?   Our ego tries to control and limit – as egos so often do.  “Dear God, Please change these things in my life, but only in ways that I won’t find too difficult or painful.  Don’t make me look at my Shadow, my role in creating this situation or how I might be contributing to or perpetuating my own pain.   Oh and please Dear God, make it all about other people and events and make sure that they change to make my life better.”   Hmmm.

So do you REALLY want to transform your life?  Are you REALLY ready to surrender? What are you willing to give up to undergo transformation?  Your ego?  Your point of view?  Your need to be right?  Your need to be a victim?  Your need to be the hero?  The rescuer?  Any transformation worth its salt must involve change.  It must also involve death. Yes death!  Death of the old way of being, the old way of seeing, speaking, thinking, acting and the birth of the new.  Ego death.  There are many archetypal representations of this energy.   One of my favourites is the Hindu Goddess Kali.  Kali is one of many goddesses from ancient cultures that represent the cycle of life, death and rebirth.  Kali is a demon-slayer.  The goddess Durga is attempting to kill the demon Raktabija but with every wound she inflicts on him, more demons are spawning as his blood drips onto the ground.  Kali comes to Durga’s aid, preventing the demon army from spawning by catching the drops of Raktabija’s blood on her lolling tongue before they are able to take root in the Earth and multiply.  She brings an end to suffering by facing the enemy, preventing the negativity from taking root and multiplying.   She slaughters the remaining demons and dances on their corpses.  Only when Shiva lays himself beneath her feet can she shake off her destructive dance and become calm again.

Only when we are willing to engage with the determination and ferocity of the archtypal Kali to face our inner demons, and stop our repetitive negative “stinking thinking” (as they call it in the 12-step programme) can we begin our transformation.   As author and teacher Tosha Silver writes, Kali is the embodiment of a ferocious love, a love of the Self, and a willingness to stand against the Ego’s games and take no prisoners!

My favourite authors on this topic:

Byron Katie “Loving What Is”
Tosha Silver “Outrageous Openness”

And, of course, anything and everything by Caroline Myss!

Shadow-Busting

Anyone ready to look at their dark side?  It’s not a place many of us like to go.  Let’s be honest.  We prefer to think of ourselves as the good side, light-workers, healers, at the vanguard of a shift in consciousness.   I’m listening to an online workshop with Carolyn Myss and Andrew Harvey exploring the Shadow.   As I listened to this week’s episode (week 2, Shadow in Personal Relationship) Caroline Myss asserted that everything in life is an extension of our shadow and nothing happens without being driven archetypally.   We either become conscious and own it, recognise it and use it to help us remain humble or it will reek havoc as we unconsciously act it out or project it on to others.   I was reminded of William Shakespeare’s lines from As You Like It (Act II, Scene vii) “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;  They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.”

the world as a stage

Imagine.  Most of us are operating at a level where we think the performance is real.  We take on the roles, rejecting some parts, embracing others. Projecting our shadow onto others, judging and condemning the wrong-doers.   All the time believing that the character we’ve created – our personality – is the director of the play.   I mean, we are in control right?  And the show must go on.  We remain oblivious to the fact that there are other characters – subpersonalities Assagioli called them – also participating in our show uninvited, rejected, avoided, denied.   Archetypal shadows undermining our performance, tripping us up, catching us unaware.   It is not until we can embrace our darkness as well as our light that we can truly become all that we can possibly be.  All that we were born to be.

It also brought to mind one of my all time favourite Rumi quotes:

a141d484f1936b2cd28a29992ae5c5a9

My life journey and my work is dedicated to finding this field. There. I’ve said it. Committed it to writing!  Until I find it, I cannot rest, for there will always be work to be done.

Useful Links if you want to know more:

The Shadow Course by Caroline Myss and Andrew Harvey is available via Sounds True 
More on Roberto Assagioli’s psychosynthesis

What is Expressive Therapy?

Not everyone likes to talk about what’s bothering them.  Sometimes it’s hard to think your way out of a situation when no obvious solution presents itself.  Expressive therapies bring the opportunity to explore the psyche in a creative and playful way.

So many of us seem to lose our ability to engage our imagination and creativity.  We decry our situation in life, and wonder why we have lost our sense of passion and purpose.  Expressive Therapies provide an alternative way of engaging with the issues.  A different way of viewing our life situation.  A creative way of exploring the options open to us as we move forward,  allowing our imagination, our intuition, and our creativity to flow again.

I offer my clients weekly sessions in which we might engage in activities such as drawing, painting, writing, visualising, meditating, movement, listening to or making music, empathetic role-play, sand-play or symbol work which allow you to explore your inner landscape in ways that traditional talk therapy doesn’t.  Each of these expressive activities has its own unique therapeutic benefit and use depending on the client, the setting, the situation and the objectives set as desired outcomes.  We talk.  I listen with an open-mind and an empathetic stance as we look to find the luminous space beyond right and wrong where fresh ideas emerge.

For a deeper exploration of the history, theory and practice of expressive therapies I recommend reading “Using Expressive Arts to Work With Mind, Body and Emotion” by Mark Pearson and Helen Wilson available to order here or Cathy Malchiodi’s book “Expressive Therapies” Available on Amazon

Click to read a chapter of Cathy Malchiodi’s book “Expressive Therapies”