Thursday, May 22, 2014

Leaves On A Stream

"Japanese Garden" ~ acrylic on wood ~ 36" x 65" ~ Sara Roizen


I have often found it useful to offer a short guided visualization or breathing practice before my art therapy groups. In the beginning I offered these exercises a bit timidly, wondering how my clients would react to engaging in some quiet time. Although each person is different, I am finding that for the most part these small carved out practices are embraced. 

Most of the places where I work are fairly chaotic at times. The buildings themselves are in challenging neighborhoods and the residents that come to my groups are usually trying to find a balance between engaging in the outside world but also protecting their inner needs and space. 

There are not always private and quiet spaces to conduct my groups in and so we work with what we have. We enfold the sounds of people shuffling in and out, the occasional arguments outside, and other everyday interruptions into our work together. 

Let Go...
One of the visualizations that I sometimes guide my art therapy clients in:

Imagine you are sitting quietly by the side of a stream. It's Fall and there are beautiful bright leaves in reds, oranges, yellows, and golds floating downstream. As you become aware of your thoughts, try placing each thought on a leaf and watch as it floats away from you down the stream. There is no need to chase the leaf as it floats further away. Simply breathe in out and place another thought on the next leaf. Observe that there is no shortage of thoughts, for that is what the mind does - it creates thoughts. Thoughts are not a problem. See that the water is always moving and flowing, just as your thoughts and feelings are never still. Relax into the process of letting each thought arise and then let it go.

ink & watercolor on rice paper ~ Sara Roizen


This visualization can be expanded upon utilizing art. You can use real leaves and have the clients write a thought or feeling that they are trying to release on the leaf. Metallic and black sharpies work nicely as would paint or even oil pastel. If there is a moving body of water nearby then group members could actually release the leaves and watch them float away. An alternative is to cut-out leaves on watercolor paper and have everyone write their thoughts on the leaves in washable marker or paint words on with watercolor. After the leaves are completed, submerge the cut-out leaves in a pan or bowl of water and watch as the words slowly dissolve and wash away...

For those of you who incorporate guided mindful practices into your work, do you have any favorites? How might they translate into the art process?


3 comments:

Peggy Jo said...

I enjoy your art work, especially the Japanese Watercolor.

I am working on forgiveness. I never would have imagined me struggling with forgiveness. I long for the day when my emotions catch up with my words.

I appreciate your work.

Peggy Jo said...

forgiveness, watercolor, art therapy

Jay Sullivan said...

Hello,

I came across your blog while exploring the topic of art therapy.

I am a photographer, and I create art about my relationship with my father who went from top IBM salesperson to homeless on the streets of Brooklyn due to bipolar disorder. I used the process of creating my art as a form of art therapy in an effort to change my perception of my broken relationship with my father. With Father's Day coming up, I thought my work might be an interesting topic for your readership.

My website is at www.jsullivanartist.com.

Please contact me if you would like further information.


Best,

Jay Sullivan