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Kunsttherapie, Bewustzijn en witnessing

In het Amerikaanse tijdschrift voor kunst therapie ( American Journal of Art Therapy) een boeiend stuk over bewustzijn en kunst, aansluitend o.a. bij de visie van Deikman, die we elders op de website bespraken. Michael Franklin, de auteur begint met een mooi citaat van Ralph Waldo Emerson uit : " The Over-Soul"  

We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One. 

We zijn verdeeld, we bestaat uit vele ikjes, maar ergens binnenin is er een onverdeeld geheel, dat geheel is stil en is in stilte en is eeuwigheid. 

De auteur begint met de beelden op te roepen van de dansende Shiva (in de cirkel van vuur) en de anatomische mens van Da Vinci, eveneens in een cirkel afgebeeld. Zijn doel daarmee brengt hij aldus onder woorden:

The contrast and union of these two images, each contained within the timeless symbol of the circle, defines the intent of this article.

It allows one to observe the eternal challenge to balance, and to transcend the world of duality, of conscious/unconscious, subjective/objective, male/female, life/death.

The synergy of both images together, integrated as one, points toward a precious inner source for transcending the fragmentations of duality that block us from our true identity, the Self, or Atman (Tart, 1975; Muktananda,1989).

The mysterious presence of the Self, and the energy that inhabits this divine inner realm, has been addressed in several spiritual traditions. In Yogic traditions, it is referred to as Kundalini Shakti. Other names for it are the Holy Spirit, Shekinah, Ki, and Chi (Anantananda, 1996, p. 23).

Art, the creative process, is a way to identify this source, grasp its timeless qualities, and navigate the splits and fragmentations of duality that restrict us from perceiving these truths. The artist Alex Grey eloquently renders these themes in his Sacred Mirrors series, leading the viewer toward a tangible encounter with the unseen, expanded Self (Grey,1990). 

De kunst is een middel om elke vorm van dualiteit te overstijgen, zelfs die van ons eigen verdeelde zelf (ziie ook Deikman). In het creatieve proces kunnen we ons met die kern van stilte verbinden, of beter er mee samensmelten, met onze eigenbron, ons diepere (metaforisch gesproken) zelf.

En:

The capacity of art to contain whatever we ask it to leads us toward a source for healing, ultimately transcending these splits. Opposites can live simultaneously within a painting, not unlike the inner spaces within a person experiencing diverse, even ambivalent, viewpoints. 

De kunst biedt de mogelijkheid om in contact te komen met die bron, die tegelijkertijd een bron van heling is, waarbinnen schijnbare tegenstrijdigheden met elkaar versmelten. 

Wie ben ik? De ‘Ik ben’ oefening

De auteur geeft een leuke opdracht, die ook aansluit bij de 3 oefeningen die we in het artikel over Dr. Deikman gaven:

The unseen-yet-present creative force responsible for the art is similar to the unseen but ever-present Self that exists behind the usual qualities by which we define ourselves.

For example, one of my meditation teachers once instructed me to make a list of the many possible terms used to define myself, e.g., I am a man, I am a teacher, I am a brother, a son, an art therapist.

Create your own list, then read it, asking yourself if it is complete.

Once through, read the list again, adding one final statement without a predicate, and hear yourself say, "I am, I am."

Allow this statement to resonate within, and notice what happens when all identifying qualities are dropped, so that all that remains is a more expanded viewpoint.

The resonating awareness that results opens up the space of the Witness, the Self. 

De waarnemer 

Door deze oefening, net zoals door de meditatie die we met Kabat-Zinn op deze website kunnen doen, komen we in contact met het Ik achter alle dualiteit, met de bron van het bewustzijn, dat we kunnen ervaren vanuit de waarnemer, die alles registreert, als we daar ruimte aan geven. De waarnemer, the wittness speelt in de mindfulness en de meditatie een centrale rol:

Witness consciousness is the connecting thread, and is discussed in detail as it relates to meditation, the art making process, and the practice of art therapy, particularly issues of countertransference and supervision. 

Maar de auteur relativeert het eigen inzicht snel door te verwijzen naar een oeroude wijsheid, die overeenkomt met die van de Taoisten. 

Guru Gita, a Sanskrit prayer, says, "One who thinks he knows not, knows; one who thinks he knows, knows not…"  

De waarnemer, de kunst en de stilte

De relatie tussen het meditatieve bewustzijn en het proces van kunst scheppen wordt ervaren vanuit de stilte, die de bron is van beiden:

Originally, I was cautious when publicly using words like meditation. To Westerners, it conjures up stereotypical notions of a New Age (that is to say, ungrounded) fringe.

The art process, a solitary undertaking much like meditation, often operates in the context of silence. A quiet inner space can be created in which the full range of human experiences can be witnessed, organized, formed, and externalized. As we know, dualities can exist separately or be integrated, and simultaneously contained, within the space of a canvas.

There are moments of silence where time is lost, as one is engulfed by a contemplative serenity, but there are also times when the mind becomes active, and so agitates this silence.

The textures of silence come and go, the mind chatters, the Witness observes, creative awareness deepens. This is not unlike what unfolds during meditation. 

De-identificatie met de zelven 

In ons dagelijks bewustzijn zijn we geheel verloren in actie, en geidentificeert met delen van ons bewustzijn. We ageren als baas en voelen ons verantwoordelijk. We reageren als teamlid en voelen ons aangevallen. We smelten steeds samen met een deel van onze (perifere) identiteit en nemen die (dodelijk) serieus. Door te shiften naar de waarnemer, ontstaat een hele andere dimensie, de fragmentatie verdwijnt, stilte ontstaat en compassie is daarvan een voortvloeisel. De schrijver van dit artikel zegt het zo: 

Rather than aligning ourselves with the fragmented, limited thoughts about ourselves (ego), alignment with the Self and the presence of the Witness–the neutral watcher within us–creates an expansive world view.

In Witness awareness, our experiences continue to unfold. The mind is still doing its job, thinking. Meditation, a practice that gives access to the Witness, instructs us to detach and alter our perceptions, particularly when it comes to negative thoughts.

Choosing not to be negatively effected by our experiences, since we no longer define them as disturbing, results in truly liberating sensations. Pure presence awakens one to observe the rising and dissolving of thoughts, to avoid reacting, to stay centered while doing one’s work (Sogyal, 1993). < /span>

Describing the Witness, Swami Anantananda (1996) wrote:Witnessing is not suppression, nor is it denial. To witness something, you first have to recognize it is there–and allow it to be.

Allowing something to be does not mean indulging in it, however. It means watching it arise and dissolve without either struggling to make it go away, on the one hand, or acting it out on the other. Does a mirror resist some images and prolong others? The detached Witness is like a mirror (p.16).

Kunstzinnig bezig zijn is bezig zijn als een spiegel. Alle activiteiten van scheppen en wat eruit ontstaat zijn afspiegelingen van ons innerlijk, onze delen en de stilte daarachter. Zo kan kunst een weg worden naar de getuige, naar de waarnemer:

Art making is like a mirror. As our efforts are reflected back to us, we simultaneously witness our separateness from and connection to the work (Rubin, 1984).

The art performs an external, synthetic Witness function, revealing inner events in tangible form. The non-judgmental internalizing of this Witness function helps us grasp the vastness of the Self, which is eternally Witnessing, even when ego is occupying the foreground of the thinking mind. The creative experience in art leads one inward, toward the Self. 

Zo wordt kunsttherapie een onderdeel van een reis naar het innerlijke, voorbij aan al onze dagelijkse ikjes en onze identificatie daarmee. Of in ieder geval biedt kunsttherapie die ingang.  

The qualities of art process and product are analogous to the qualities of the inner Witness. Art making creates a bridge that shortens the gap between our inner experiences and the external world.

The artwork is the artist’s Witness. It contains his or her inner world in objective form, simultaneously holding both spaces, slowly eroding the notion of duality and separateness.

Just as with the Self archetype, within an art piece, the "many" can be contained within the "one." The art piece eloquently holds the many thoughts and experiences that are born within a single unifying format or frame, as in a painting. In essence, subjective and objective perceptions are contained in the art, which acts as a meeting ground between both worlds (Ulman & Dachinger,1975). 

 Bron

Becoming a Student of Oneself: Activating the Witness in Meditation, Art, and Super-Vision. By: Franklin, Michael, American Journal of Art Therapy, 00074764, Aug99, Vol. 38, Issue 1 

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