Darkness and Light at the Intersection of Fragmented Self Creativity and Meditation after Trauma~
It was one of those weeks where I need what children's author, Maurice Sendak, calls A SCREAMING SONG. I was on the other side of a really big energy. In addition, it was a week or so of meetings, classes or other commitments after work and my not wanting to compromise the space I have created for my own daily home meditation practice. So today I gently let the struggle slide through my fingertips.. Letting go means accepting. To accept, I have to sit with "what is" and that means sometimes sitting with darkness. The dark places that you acknowledge in yourself are not bad, and they are not separate from "the good" or the "light". They are one in the same. For you to be in the light and be your authentic self you have to wait for darkness to catch up and come along. Darkness is an opportunity to grow.
About two weeks ago I presented to a stroke support group in NH. My intention in presenting there was to talk about how to make a safe space for healing through creative process. Within the process emotion can be facilitated. In a group of about 20 people, my presentation moved along and, per usual, I asked them to comment on images. Their answers surprised me. They saw a tremendous amount of aggression in my images, particularly the brightly colored ones and some were truly unsettled by the backgrounds and textures I incorporated. I was very open-hearted going in to this experience because I know that trauma changes perspective on things and I knew in terms of my own experience this was about me being completely vulnerable. I am curious about my own stroke- trauma at the age of six and have been exploring it very deeply. I has led me to explore the relationship between trauma and art. So I listened and asked questions. Again and again they felt aggression. They explained it as an intangible thing, but felt it very intensely. I saw it in their faces as they spoke. “Jessie” spoke about my bright pink African daisy image, “I don’t know, it’s not a good feeling, something’s not right.” This absolutely struck me reminded me of a phrase you might use if a child is sick. It was a gutsy intuition type feeling. I felt such a thick, dense commonality in the room, and understanding that we had experienced similar wounds. So, a few days later, I sat with that. I breathed in the aggression and breathed out-breaths of compassion. My intent was not to get to the bottom of it, not to push it away, but at least explore ways in which I was still being unkind to myself or aggressive toward anything I was feeling.
Meditation is very sneaky. You will think you're working on a small picture item, when really you are working on a much bigger self-picture. My subsequent meditation led me to soften....my whole being. It made me see my own trauma as a divine formation of a new path. I accepted the rigidness of the jagged, smashed framework. That, in hindsight, my path had been jolted at 6 years old so that I could follow a new path which included a deep empathy. It doesnt truly matter WHERE the aggression that they sensed came from, it only mattered that it was brought into present by our meeting. Having this experience created an opportunity to think about ways to be kinder, not only to others, but to myself. It made me, on a larger scale, think about ways we are unkind to ourselves...with food, with money, with relationships, with self talk. It created a pointed awareness that I carry into every day life. I kept asking the question, What am I holding? Where am I re-living the violence of my trauma? Healthy aggression can lead you toward your goals if there is empathy in place. Sit and feel. Meditation isn’t about going to a tropical beach with a drink in your hand….It isn’t your “happy place”. It’s the place where you allow yourself to be still and feel without judgement.
Notice if you are unkind to yourself throughout the day. Take the opportunity to forgive. Acknowledge your bravery in places, or your patience; your own hard work. Make space for yourself and your imperfection and allow yourself to drop the story and the mask. Talk about yourself like you are talking about someone you cherish respect, admire. Touch your darkness; touch your wound and soften and share that. What does true self-acceptance and love look like to you?