It was a vision.
On the rising from sleep one idle morning, the young 25-year-old girl experienced something out of this world; the girl saw clearly before her, her future. At 25, the girl had spent most of her twenties up to that point confused and searching for answers, directions and guidance. It came when she least expected it, on a morning no different than any that had come before; it was right before her, her path. Now more than ever the girl knew exactly what she needed to do.
Driving down Cerrillos Road for the first time from the hostel which was to be home for her 26th birthday weekend, the girl looked to her best friend, and with discouragement in her tone said, “There is no way this is where I am supposed to be, that vision must have been some sort of fluke?” Yet slowly the scene changed as they turned on to Airport Road. The young girl was immediately captured by the golden point of a Buddhist Stupa, shooting high into the clear blue desert sky. The girl felt something begin shifting in her (she would later find her home at that Stupa, living there, finding community and friendship there). As the navigation tool on her phone directed her to pull into a gravel drive, leading to what looked like an old adobe house, there was a sign reading; “Southwestern College, Transforming Consciousness Through Education.” The girl looked to her friend, this time there was no discouragement in her voice when she spoke, “I am home.”
Now, days from turning 29, almost exactly 3 years since I first stepped foot onto the Southwestern campus, I see that I entered my education at Southwestern College a girl, and left a woman.
From my experience, the late 20’s in one’s life is a time of rapid change and growth for everyone. It is the threshold of child to adult, of wanderer to wonderer, of ‘dazziness’ to confusion. It is often a transformative process beyond the desire for it to be so. I believe that in the infinite possibilities that could have arisen for me in this seemingly precious time of my life, I would have found change and growth no matter where I was or what I was doing. Yet, what is truly special about my path leading to Southwestern College, is that the inevitable individuation that was already occurring in my life, was done from a place of consciousness. Experiencing this overwhelming time was no longer terrifying and uncomfortable, but rather interesting and understandably perfect.
I know a number of people who talk about the late 20’s with pain, struggle, and loss. The natural growing pains into adulthood are an understanding buried among the collective unconscious, leaving many feeling depressed, lost, and even at times like a huge failure. But my education at Southwestern shed light on what exactly was going on in my life. Not only then and now, but everything that had happened in my life up to that point. Before my education here, I was losing my childlike sense of a greater meaning and connection to all the events in my life, and the events in the outer world. It was Southwestern that validated to me, for I’d say truly the first time, these feelings of a spiritual self. It confirmed and reminded me of an essence greater than my human mind.
The beautiful aspect of Southwestern is that, not only did I have an incredible experience that challenged my defenses and unconscious patterns, but I learned that all the parts of my life that hurt and stung my sense of self were now turning into tools and lessons for healing. When I say healing, I of course refer to healing that was evoked inside myself; but even more amazing, I now have the understanding and skills to foster that healing in my clients.
Toward the end of my first year at SWC, I was privileged and honored to be an important figure in my grandmother’s dying process. While I had experienced grief and loss before, this death was profound, for my grandmother was my soul mate, best friend, ally, and companion. I fell apart when she finally did pass. I experienced the depth of grief, and was consumed with doubt and guilt. In all of my education and experience throughout my years, nothing prepared me for these feelings of loss. It was Vision Quest months later, and enrolling in the Grief, Trauma and Loss Certificate, that I found an unnamable comfort and, once again, a validation to my experience. It was my experience of pain that ultimately became my source of profound transformation, but only after my experiences at SWC, could I name this transformation and work with it consciously.
Now, out of school and the certificate program, I am working in the field of grief and loss. I am working in the grief field from the perspective of the unknowable griever, and the understandable practitioner. I truly feel that, if not for the incredible two years at Southwestern College, I would be fine. Fine, but asleep. I am awake now. I am awake to all that I am, all that I have been, and all that I will be- knowing they are one in the same. I am now connected. Connected to life and death, to family, to clients, to a conscious experience of life.
In a few days I will be 29 with an M.A. in Art Therapy and Counseling, and a Certificate in Grief, Trauma and Loss. I can say with confidence that I am a different person than I was three years ago. I can’t say I have it all figured out, and that the future is paved with unlimited abundance and joy now that I am “conscious.” If Southwestern taught me anything, it is that I can’t say for sure about anything, but I can trust and believe, and like my beautiful teacher Katherine Ninos eloquently speaks, “It’s all perfect.” No matter what lies ahead, becoming conscious and healing never stops. Southwestern gave me the essential tools to build upon for becoming the best therapist, and best person I can be.
Amy Krok LMHC is a practicing Counselor and Art Psychotherapist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Utilizing a range of art therapy techniques, dream analysis, astrology, and somatic tracking, Amy intuits what approach fits best with her clients. Amy also works with patients, family and staff through the “Arts in Medicine” program at the UNM Hospital in Albuquerque. With a specialization in Grief and Loss, Amy is available for therapy with both individuals and groups.