By Miriam Grace
The invitation to, ‘write about where Spring 2021 finds me and my practice’ seemed fitting for this morning as I sit here with the windows open and the birdsong seemingly louder than it has ever been. The buds on the tree that has been my companion for the last four springs are small and closed, yet the bark on the branches has a gentle green tinge.
In some ways the last 18 months have been like a prolonged winter, a time in the “creative void” to go inward and reflect, to feel, to pause, to learn. As spring arrives I have been urging myself as well as my clients to own their power, to be proactive in this process. When we go into winter, or lockdown, it is a process that we do not choose. Emerging however is largely in our hands.
Yesterday, I said in encouragement to a friend (who was feeling somewhat diminished by organisational dynamics), “What is the point of menopause, if we can’t come out of it owning our knowledge, wisdom, strength and power?”
Similarly what is the point of enforced wintering if we can’t be clearer about our introjects and retroflections, our balance and middle grounded ground?
In Alexander Technique the word “inhibition“ is used in the almost opposite sense to the way that a psychotherapist might use it. The student is invited to inhibit automatic (unconscious) behaviour. My colleague Imogen (Alexander Teacher) and I use the idea of the pause to increase individual choice about engagement in our workshops.
For the second year running I have run my wintering coaching group, Nourish & Nurture, which borrows from the ideas of the creative void, the pause, five element acupuncture and nature. Using my experience from my psychosynthesis training, participants spend the winter visiting a wise woman in the woods, exploring the rooms of her house, sitting by the fireside and discussing their lives with her in various guided meditations. I also incorporate journalling exercises, reflections, thought for the day type posts and the paradoxical theory of change to support following the winter’s pull to go inward, in order that our flourishing and productivity in the spring is deeply anchored.
To be honest running Nourish & Nurture is hugely beneficial to me as I have to practice what I preach, and it leads me down many wonderful exploratory paths, as well as re-visiting the basics such as introjects (Gestalt) and sub-personalities (Psychosynthesis). This year there have definitely been more experiences of fear and expressions of loneliness and need for connection with others. As my course finishes this week it is perhaps a bit late for the arrival of a new book I’ve ordered, Wintering by Katherine May, but, from my first skim through, this book looks like a potential winter solstice gift to friends towards the end of the year. And of course will influence my Nourish & Nurture course 2021 to 2022.
More than any other spring, I’m inviting anyone who has read this far to use the experience of a prolonged pause, a prolonged winter, a prolonged creative void, to empower yourself; to choose your engagement selectively and with awareness. We are not obliged to return to anything that no longer serves our well-being.
I wonder how my practice might look once we can meet face-to-face? Looking out into the world and the year ahead, I anticipate an increase in mental health support needs as a result of the pandemic. I also hope for an increase in choice, an increase in the equalising of access for disabled people like myself. We have wintered, we have paused, that pause/creative void is the crucial first step in the gestalt cycle. May we use this to direct ourselves and meeting our needs in a powerful and choice-full way in 2021.
Flowering this spring I have two related projects that you may be interested in:
Imogen and I are running our 4th International Body – Mind Workshop in June. Due to the wonders of Zoom we no longer have to cram this CPD into one day, one country, one venue. We are spreading it over four weeks with 90 minute sessions. The 90 minutes will be experiential, interesting and fun. There will be resources in the week with theoretical support for the workshop exercises and reflections. There is plenty in this series of 4 x 90 min workshops to support you and to take back to your clients. All details and booking at: https://imogenragone.com/the-emotional-body/.
On the same theme we are having FREE ten minute talks every Monday in April via Facebook with catch up links on YouTube. These talks are an opportunity to drop into the conversation we began 9 years ago when we began to explore the similarities in our discipline. Last week we spoke about the Gestalt Cycle and the Alexander concept of pausing. Today we will discuss the question, “Is feeling safe found in the body or the mind?” By the time this is out the talks may be over but catch ups will continue to be posted via my website and Facebook professional page.
The spectrum of movement between stuckness / stagnation <—> fluidity / ebb & flow <— > immersion / leaping before we look, are pertinent to us all as we re-enter the world this spring. We need some element of risk to harness excitement, and an element of stillness from which to emerge, yet fluidity and flexibility of attitude as well as movement in the body tend to indicate a healthy middle ground. May we all keep returning to the pause, the emptiness, the solitude of our long winter, and find there what we need for our leaps into spring.
Miriam Grace is a Gestalt Psychotherapist in practice online. For more information, please see here.