by Christine Miller, M.A. Candidate in Art Therapy and Counseling at Southwestern College
The initial quarter of classes I took at Southwestern College was both exciting and intimidating. It was through one of my first and most memorable classes, that I learned the value of intention. Without a concrete intent to work on something I would get lost in other thoughts and distractions or procrastinate it for another day. An intention gave me something to gauge my progress and success. It forced me to acknowledge my issues and be conscious of them, watching them arise in my mind and accepting them. This doesn’t mean that I view them as negative or try to fix a problem, but rather see the issues for what they are in non judgment.
The activity was to maintain and build trust through exercises each week. To me, building trust is a continual process that can never be completely finalized. After the activity was complete, I decided to journal about my reactions and create an art doll in order to express my moments of insight and sustain the conclusions I had drawn. The journals really helped me pinpoint what was hidden and needed expressed, while the doll sculptures helped me visualize creatively how to go about changing certain mindsets. The personal meaning I derived from this project is portrayed openly in a few journal excerpts.
The first activity of an individual scavenger hunt posed a serious threat to my physical sense of security. I was afraid of the weather and how my abilities might be compromised in searching for treasures during a hail storm. I didn’t even realize I was talking myself out of the situation and being negative until I focused and became mindful of my thoughts. There seemed to be a war between my mind and spirit being waged. The payoff at the end was well worth it though, as I got to witness the most spectacular array of rainbow colors contrasted against a shrouded mysterious sky. It was like an interplay of forces, where chromatic color and light stood in sharp opposition to monotone rain clouds and darkness.
The second activity of a blind walk hike at night dealt with interpersonal relationships. Instead of finding trust from within, I now had to work with trusting another being. I wanted to stop attaching so much worth to the outcome of a situation and instead focus on learning and growth in the process. In this activity I expected to run into trees or fall, and figured my boyfriend would not take my safety seriously. He was actually very cautious and detailed with his descriptions to fit my available senses. This was a good activity to focus on the process as well, because guiding someone through a world without sight literally needs to be taken one step at a time. Later I realized that support and communication were the two main factors that increased my trust. By feeling what it was like to be supported and openly communicated with, I can now utilize this insight in the future.
Mindful meditation, another meaningful activity, came with opportune timing the week I crashed my car. I knew from past experience that I am a master of multitasking. I complete tasks simultaneously in order to get them all done and checked off my list. Without regard for the toll it is taking on my body and mind, I can definitely use some time to slow down and take life as it comes. I can more fully enjoy life and the multitudes of tasks if I stay in the moment and devote myself wholeheartedly to them. If I can divide up the tasks of my day, and give some away it takes some of the weight off my shoulders and allows me to be more present in the activities I do chose to focus on. There is no textbook solution for problems, instead empathy and mindfulness are excellent tools in assessing where an exercise would be most beneficial. Incorporating visual elements to represent my discoveries sought to bring them to life. These gave me points of reference for starting out, maintaining balance throughout the process, and how to deal with end results in positive ways.
Stay tuned for Christine’s Workshop on Creating Dolls at Southwestern!