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Art therapy Changes the Picture II

Learn to Love Who You Are for Change, Not Change Who You Are for Love

Let’s be clear; this is a series of love letters to the most amusing of them All. 

Who are you? Who could you be? The man that I chose to marry truly did sweep me off my feet, after of course a decade and a half of others trying.  One long Symbol Scroll and a few years of noticing how I needed to let go of my own blind spots.

For me this story starts the way it ends, for you, my soul sister, my cousin, a friend, an ex-love, or a stranger.  I want you to find a compatible love for the life you want to live.  Knowing that obstacle after obstacle on my own journey to “find true love” felt like a complete disaster at times, I want to help you detangle yourself from your own web and create a new one.  

Among the jaw-dropping men I dated just as love seemed imminent- there would be some big reveal- that to others may not have been a deal breaker – Cocaine addiction, secret lovers In Paris, the glory list from my singles problems was shocking my system.   I needed to take a step back and look at myself.  What is the best method for this subset of mankind: Interactive Imagery.  Art therapy & Inward Eye Meditation.  This time I choose to paint with India ink and watercolor on an intriguing long scroll of rice paper.  One of my favorite favorite mediums, I used it to paint my “Safe Place”, sitting there at the edge of Nikki Beach overlooking St Jean in St Barth.

Yes, you can stand before a mirror or shoot selfies all day, but that will only keep you looking at yourself. There needs to be a dialogue with your internal visions, hence the terminology “Interactive Imagery.”  Your face before you face, take a look at what is inside your mind-body to magnetize the love of a lifetime.

There was one specific Inward Eye Meditation session when I saw myself before a forest of thorns.  It was massive, impossible to forge through easily at a glance.  I felt fortunate to be standing before this gigantic thorn bush, rather than amidst it.  For me, I could now see that I needed to clear the path (or go a different direction).  

To find love with another I needed to create an opening through a thorny forest. 

I decided to paint a long symbolic scroll beginning with my Dad, a vibrant sun with impressions of yellow and orange tones echoing in a circular motion over a sea of waves.  

The ocean waves in the painting, and in my memory, is where I begin to transition to being a woman.  In my mind’s eye I let myself sit with the experiences of my first partner, a very well intended young man with upside down motivations, and freely paint whatever comes to mind. I continued this process moving forward to the right across this long scroll, partner after partner I invited and allowed myself to paint a symbol for each person who captured an intimate part of me.  

If I thought of nothing, I simply allowed space for something to arise another time and process through to the next attempted relationship. This process took many hours, many weeks.  After each painting session I would roll the scroll away to contain it, keeping it hanging where I could easily open and continue. It was helpful to notice I would have no response for some partners, and others I had engaging visualizations with multiple colors and layers.  One man presented as a forward facing lion comfortable in the grass, and that truly matches his spirit at heart. Another was a snake.  Only my first partner of four years appears as himself.  In the end of this personal process, I was able to see new parts of myself and perspectives that were previously invisible to my inward eye. I could see patterns across relationships and assess visually what I wanted to change.   With enough insight, my path became clear.  Granted there was some heavy lifting (mind-body shifting) involved- and conscious dreaming into decision streaming- like saying yes to the man in my permanent picture. 

Now how does this relate to you?  How do you do this for yourself?  Remember the most magical element to this process is your willingness to dive deeper, freely associate, and be honest with yourself.  Dialoguing with symbols is as ancient as Egypt, so be confident.  Find a private space. Yes, the best case scenario that can be an Art therapist’s office, however if you are excited, curious, and motivated, here is a beneficial approach:

Use tangible materials – you need to be able to put your process on the wall and look at it.  Colored pencils on paper are recommended. You want to be able to revisit it.  If you love graphic design, or a similar medium plan to print out your progress.  If you are more comfortable to work in a journal, do that.  Be prepared though to look at all the symbols together.  Leave open space at the end of your scroll for the present of your future.  It really is best to reflect independently or with a trusted therapist first before inviting friends or others to view this personal inquiry.  Without guidance many will very naturally project their own beliefs onto your work and muddle your process.   

Let yourself dabble with dialoguing with the images that arise.  Write down your insights and capture them.  Be judgement free and look for patterns.  What speaks to you the most about your stream of symbols?  How are they connected or disconnected?  What do you want to add or change?  Add this to your Symbol Scroll.  Remember symbols come in all forms, colors, shapes, and invisible spaces. Now let go of your attachments to any concept of an ideal person for yourself.  Someone else never exists exactly as you see them.  Parts of your metaphor may appear, but never hold stiff to all of them, as this is what quite often sets us back. 

This exercise is designed to strengthen your boundaries and build more self awareness to clear your path and find your love of now.   Know that whatever lessons we bring into every relationship, they may continue.  What is clever is to find a mate with the least of all the evils against you, and the most heavenly supports for you.  When you find this person accept them for who they truly are.  You will learn to love who you are, and never change who you are for love. 

I created my Symbol Scroll as early as 2007 or 2008, before my Safe Place Mediation.  2011 is when I realized the muse of my lifespan, though he and I met for the first time in February of 2009.  Depending on how tangled your web this one may take a bit of time. #symbolscroll

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