Have you ever felt so closed up that it became normal? Do you remember a time when you felt free? Have you asked yourself Why am I so guarded?
When it comes to art and expressing ourselves there is a conscious effort to connect with our heart and that takes courage to be vulnerable. The word vulnerable can have a negative edge to it. I have heard of people with an acquired brain injury being referred to as the vulnerable population.
There is truth in this, as many of the people who come to share their time with me are vulnerable, even tender, but with encouragement they are intensely brave to take on the task of looking at their barriers their blockage and express what is inside.
The barriers come to try and protect us because our past histories are occupied with pain, hurt, and disappointment and this can lead to the feeling of blockage, being closed up and guarded. To expand on the perception of blockage and vulnerability I’ve tried to explain this as black and white thoughts. We have black thoughts and we have white thoughts. During the Mindful Art Workshop, we meditate on the black and white perspectives and the participants created these eraser carvings (click here) to illustrate the two sides of the same coin.
We then printed the stamps on a black canvas, and it magnified the white art. Perhaps we need the barriers and the black thoughts to have a canvas where our vulnerability and white thoughts can shine. When we show ourselves love and kindness we accept our blockage and we accept our vulnerability; for without one the other would not glow so brightly.
Then we find ourselves starting to open up and the barriers perhaps are lowered slightly. Then perhaps our hearts beat a bit more mighty as we gather the courage to show ourselves love and kindness for all the parts, bit and pieces of ourselves. Then we are that much closer to freedom.
I would like to share with you the stories of two clients; each had lost a beloved person in their life. One gentleman spoke of his worries about his grandmother being very ill and having to be hospitalized. He described this grandmother as having been like a second mother to him. He sat in my office, overcome with concern that she may not live through this battle. Some time later, he arrived to tell me that his grandmother had died. I sat with him, trying to make a space where he felt safe to cry. We were able to practice deep breathing and gentle seated yoga and he sat through two 10 minute meditations, taking a short break to cry and feel the pain from his grandmother’s passing. When he was ready, I wrote and showed him this message: Grief + Gratitude = Inspiration.
I explained that it is normal to feel pain when grieving, that the pain signifies that the person is important to you and has deeply touched your life; otherwise, you wouldn’t feel such strong emotions.
Grief can have negative connotations and can be labeled a negative emotion. We can take that Grief and add something positive and possibly uplifting – Gratitude. Think about all the wonderful memories and ways that this person changed your life and try to connect with a feeling of gratitude, for without this person, you would not be who you are today. Find ways to be thankful for her life. The way she lived her life has changed the way you have lived yours.
The second client spoke about the loss of his girlfriend, which brought forth in him memories of losing his father many years prior; he allowed himself to cry for both losses.
Let the loss of your beloved also be your inspiration. Take the grief, add gratitude, and create inspiration so that when you remember your beloved, you can experience a feeling of inspiration. Both of my clients asked me to write this equation down for them as reminders.
Each client walked away with a bit of lift in their steps and a slight smile, as if to say, “I’ve found new meaning for a very special person, someone who I will always keep close to my heart”.