12-Week Women’s Expressive Arts Journey Circle – A Return on my Journey
I recently designed/created and facilitated a 12-week women’s expressive arts circle journey online. And as I do every time one of these journeys end, I like to sit and meditate on what came through, and what still wants to emerge.
Eight beautiful soulful and unique women chose to join me on this particular journey.
The theme of the journey, the one that came to me in dream, was as follows:
HERstory Re-storied and Rewilded:
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Your Own Heroine’s Journey.
No small endeavor, right?
Fortunately, I trust that themes draw in those who are already seeking and ready to birth that which is being called.
And I trust that the art always finds a way to guide us exactly where we need to go, and my role is simply to let go; offer a safe container, seeds for reflection, permission to explore and express, and let go.
In this role, I’ve come to realize that, while I create and hold the container and its seeds for exploration and expression (though these too, like the overarching themes, tend to visit me in dreams and come from a place that is not entirely me), I too move and am moved through the processes. My own creative process is impacted as I encounter the theme, the women who join in circle, and the seeds for each weekly exploration and expression.
And so as I sit here and reflect on my journey facilitating this particular container, and this particular theme, I realize what stories (because there was more than one) were re-storied for me, and what was rewilded, and what meaning and purpose came through for me.
Nothing I had expected.
Not surprisingly, because that’s how Soul works, and more specifically how it works through the expressive arts.
It is subtle.
It is sometimes chaotic, challenging and confronting, sometimes gentle and comforting.
And it is often unclear, confusing and fuzzy like a dream…
It demands from us that we be willing to stay in the liminal space as the imagination moves and we are moved by it until something more “solid” is ready to emerge.
It demands from us patience and child-like curiosity about “what else is possible here?” “What else is the image trying to tell me?”
It demands from us that we allow the images to be their own person, separate from the self and who we think our self to be, and to speak with their own unique voice.
If we want solidity too quickly – ie, a product and an answer too quickly, meaning is often lost (because mind tries to know and control), and with it, the opportunity for something else, different, unique and transformational to emerge in its own time.
That’s why I find that the time following an expressive arts journey – no matter its length of time, is so important.
It is an opportune time to sit with and reflect on the images and the journey; a time to allow each image, one by one, and then together as a whole, to reveal all that they hold and want so desperatly to give us. They want to be seen, heard, held and loved, as they are, without mind projections, judgments and assumptions.
We so seldom offer ourselves such time in life, instead moving from one thing to the next, from one experience to the next, from one “doing” to the next “doing”, and foregoing the opportunity to harvest what has been.
Taking time to harvest what has been experienced through the expressive arts is not easy work.
It is meditative work.
It requires patience and sensitivity.
It requires witnessing the mind as it scrambles and struggles to find meaning right away.
It requires finding comfort in the liminal space and allowing something new, not yet known by the congealed Ego, to reveal itself, and then encounter it with great curiosity, free from projections and assumptions.
And so, here I was, following this journey, doing just that, when it dawned on me that part of the re-storying and rewilding that this journey was seeking to birth through me (I say “part” because I know more will emerge as I continue to encounter and engage with the images), was about play.
P L A Y.
I reconnected with one of my inner children, more specifically, one of my inner playful children. I say “one of”, because there are many within me that have been exiled when I was very young, and as a result of growing up in a culture of unhealthy attachment, premature adulting, and discomfort with and fear of not knowing (i.e., liminal space).
Can you relate?
What is interesting is that when this particular 12-week EXA circle journey came to me, while I had visions of supporting other women in re-storying their wild feminine self through this journey using myths about Selkies, and bringing in imagery from different Goddesses and feminine archetypes, what came through in the end was something else entirely.
P L A Y.
And while I cannot pretend to know even in the slightest what came through you – I’m still figuring out what came through for me so I suspect you may still be there too – small sprouts are beginning to emerge from the seeds that were planted in me.
P L A Y.
I find that fascinating.
Because in a way, so many of us who suffer greatly today as adults with, for example, anxiety and depression, imposture syndrome, burnout, etc., do so partly because we were never truly allowed to play as children (I see it still to this day in my work with children in schools).
Especially women (or at least, that’s my perspective because I cannot speak for the male or even non-binary gender perspective).
Girls play house. Girls play school. Girls play nurse. Girls don’t get angry. Girls play pretty. Girls play nice. Girls please. Girls serve. Girls learn to be women, so they may in turn mother and nurture.
I’m naming only these, and invite your imagination and your own experience to add, subtract, and change these in whatever way resonates with you.
The point I am trying to make is that at a very young age our imaginations (and as a result, our P L A Y – its quality and nature), was constrained and curtailed by a culture that couldn’t tolerate us being any less or any more than what civilization as we know it is and wants us to be.
The result was an inner sense that we were deficient, not quite right, something in us, parts of us, were not acceptable. And these parts were exiled.
And so for me, this past journey, instead of bringing the Goddess I thought would emerge, has instead helped me bring back to life a small child within me that loves to dream, and play, and imagine all sorts of creatures, go on all sorts of wild adventures, explore and be curious and …
P L A Y.
To move and dance freely, and sometimes even in silly playful ways.
To draw and paint in spontaneous and unexpected ways.
To reclaim my body – all of it – as it is.
To come back to senses and enjoy the glitter on paper, the slimy paint on my fingers, the sensorial landscape of my own miraculous body, and the limitless imaginative capacity of my being.
That’s partly what’s been re-storied and rewilded in me.
At least, for now, that’s what is beginning to sprout.
I look forward to seeing what else emerges as I continue to engage with the images that came through these past 12 weeks (during and outside our weekly sessions because they’re all part of the same Soul thread), encounter and come into relationship with them from a place of not knowing, of curiosity and child-like wonderment.
If you are curious to know what would sprout in yourself in response to an encounter with an expressive arts journey, reach out to me, check out my various offerings, and come join me in a Soul journey through the expressive arts.
No arts experience is necessary.
Simply a willingness to be curious, explore, express and watch the magic unfold. You can learn more about what the expressive arts approach is right here (what is expressive arts and expressive arts therapy?)
And you can connect with me here (connect with me).