With two weeks to go until my retirement from professional practice, I held the last of a long series of groups last night. We had been meeting together for four hours a session approximately monthly for about ten years. The group was started at the suggestion of one of its members, who asked me to pick the other members and to lead it. With only a few changes, the group had a consistent membership for its entire life. It was composed of four women and myself and was based on the use of interactive deep imagery and art as a way of knowing. Although it was focused on personal growth it was statedly not a therapy group.

The ending of the group was, one would expect, a little sad and a little sweet. Everyone recognized the growth they each had experienced and how it has manifested in their lives. There was also a clear recognition of the deep bonding that developed between the participants and how significant that was for them.

 
As for me, I, too, learned and grew. As the years went by I learned I could trust the process to carry the group with my role being as an organizer the hold the parameters of the schedule, the structure, and help the members to stay focused on how the inner dialog with the imagination can address problems and questions in an organic way, learning to trust one’s intuition and use the intellect as a support. I was often surprised by the members feeling the necessity to take notes when I reflected on what was happening, as it all seemed so obvious to me. This helped me to see and accept aspects of myself which are usually below my normal awareness.

 
I prepared no final talk or goodby but, following the process, I let the flow of the four hour/ten year group come to its natural conclusion. Near the end of our time, I silently asked for an image to come to me to help me to know whatever I needed to know about this moment. My inner advisor, trusted guide, and manifestation of my own unconscious mind came and filled the space with its blue/black energy which felt, undoubtedly, like love.

  
That is what we had been doing all along for those ten years- learning how to love ourselves and each other. How to be in the flow of being and accept and support others to do so as well. No one left last night feeling all their problems were solved but everyone felt they had a better understanding of how to cope with them and how to foster continuing learning and growth.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to engage with others in this way that served us all.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/04/13/ursula-k-le-guin-operating-instructions-words-are-my-matter/?utm_source=Brain+Pickings&utm_campaign=713bfece18-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_06_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_179ffa2629-713bfece18-234118005&mc_cid=713bfece18&mc_eid=4892e1c952

“Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.”

⁃ from Living to Tell the Tale

Good example of imagination in action. 

https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/03/09/atom-and-archetype-pauli-jung/?utm_source=Brain+Pickings&utm_campaign=1dadb14047-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_179ffa2629-1dadb14047-234118005&mc_cid=1dadb14047&mc_eid=4892e1c952

Another Testament to the Power of the Imagination

Held Hostage in Sudan with Gabriel García Márquez

From Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times blog, a piece by Flavia Wagner.

Nearly four years have passed since I was kidnapped and held hostage for 105 days while working to bring education to the children of the war-torn region of Darfur, Sudan. In some respects my captivity seems all but a distant memory. The passage of time, however, will never diminish my fond recollections of my only trusted companion during those long, death-defying days—Gabriel García Márquez. With his recent passing, all of the harrowing and heart-tugging memories of our time together came flooding back.

On the fateful day my convoy was ambushed, I had the good fortune to have had in my travel bag one of the most magnificent novels of all time: García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Over the course of my own “105 days of solitude,” García Márquez (known affectionately as “Gabo”), the Buendía family and the town and inhabitants of Macondo became my refuge in a time fraught with uncertainty and hardship.

I lived alongside my captors in the open bush in the remote foothills of the Jebel Mara mountain range, moving by truck, foot and camel to countless isolated camps. A lone captive, I spent every waking and sleeping hour with dozens of armed and often inebriated men in an active conflict zone. At times, a cacophony of battle booms and blasts cracked and echoed through the night’s sky. The forbidding desert in which I lived was just as perilous: lions, hyenas and deadly snakes and insects roamed wherever the eye could see. Gabo’s magical tale provided the only escape from my otherwise dreadful reality and the constant threat placed upon my life.

By the time I was released, the book was irreparably worn. It never left my side, not even for a moment. I read from it throughout the day and by flashlight at night. I used it as a pillow upon the hard ground where I slept. Often, I awoke with it wrapped tightly in my arms like a beloved teddy bear. When I was certain I would die from a scorpion sting, I turned to the novel like one might a medical book to recall how Rebeca had fared when she was stung on her wedding night. It even served as a tool to teach certain captors English.

In the darkest days of captivity, Gabo’s visage on the book jacket was the only kind one I would see. I whispered to him that he was the most beautiful thing in the world while tracing with my finger the benevolent lines of his face. To this day, his amiable features remain etched deeply in my mind. Some mornings, when I was unsure whether I could endure another day, I invoked Gabo’s spirit to illuminate the heavenly words from his novel that read like divine providence designed to strengthen my fortitude.

I had earmarked the pages of many such passages, but I often returned to the one in which Úrsula shouted “I’m alive!” when her great-great-granddaughter thought her dead. As it happens, each morning I awoke in a profound state of existential awareness murmuring those same simple, yet miraculous words aloud. I was alive. Alive! Having suffered savagery of every magnitude, I was as astonished as I was revived by the precious gift of life afforded me. Knowing that each day could well be my last, I resolved to seize each moment, doing my utmost to treat my captors with the care and compassion I longed for in return.

So many of my experiences and fanciful visions in captivity were touched by the magical realism in Gabo’s book—the yellow butterflies that fluttered about me, my captors’ “tails of pigs,” the ascensions to heaven, the tormented and celestial apparitions. Mostly, though, it was the ethereal, enigmatic visions of Gabo himself that saw me through.

On certain forsaken days, Gabo sat by my side like a benevolent ghost to keep me company, his unfettered imagination inspiring my own wild fantasies. In troubled times he popped right off the page like a genie, his jovial face and words of encouragement cheering me on. In the midst of my greatest suffering, he wrapped his arms around me, pressing me protectively to his heart. Gabo’s presence was earthly impossible, I knew, and yet I swore that if I reached out I would feel the soft folds of his grandfatherly face that I knew so well.

“I’m so tired. So, so tired,” I once told him despairingly, my hair in a puddle on his lap. “I don’t think I am going to make it out alive.” Gabo looked paternally down upon me, uneasy with my foreboding. “Get those bad thoughts out of your head,” he commanded. “You are going to make it out of here if I have to carry you out.”

Indeed I did make it out. As I walked across the tall grassy field toward my freedom, Gabo stood waiting for me on the horizon. “We made it,” I whispered into the wind. “No, my girl,” he uttered affectionately, “you made it.”

It is years later and Gabo’s tattered novel still sits on my nightstand. The sight of it overwhelms me with gratitude and nostalgia for the otherworldly friend who roamed magically through the desert, appearing whenever I needed him most.

I realize that the spiritually liberating role Gabo played in my captivity was an invention of my mind, a way to cope with an otherwise unbearable situation. However, I like to believe that in another dimension— a magical one—he truly was there. Perhaps for a man with such unbridled imagination, no space is too great for his spirit to transcend.

A memoir of Ms. Wagner’s larger experiences in captivity will be released soon.

© 2014 The New York Times Company.

Art as Therapy: Alain de Botton on the 7 Psychological Functions of Art

Here’s a philosophical take on the therapeutic value of art. i don’t need any more convincing but its always interesting to get a fresh perspective. thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings- http://www.brainpickings.com.

Meditation Retreat

April 23, 2014

TWR70b

A few weeks ago I attended a three day meditation retreat at the Ligmincha Institute in Virginia. The retreat was awesome and I am sharing here a link to a video which was taken during this very retreat. It is an hour long so it does go into some depth and includes some guided meditation by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and an interesting question and answer session with questions from around the world via internet. Enjoy.

Click on a link above or find the video here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/46068128