Spontaneous art and writing offer a mirror reflection of your inner world, and it will help you to express, release, see, and heal your emotional pain. I warmly invite you to visit my online classroom HERE.
Spontaneous art and writing offer a mirror reflection of your inner world, and it will help you to express, release, see, and heal your emotional pain. I warmly invite you to visit my online classroom HERE.
For ten years, I was privileged to facilitate art for older adults in a well-funded government art program for Canadian veterans. Encouraged by my mentor Dr Dalia Gottlieb Tanaka, founder of The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care, I wrote an e-guide about my experiences working in Artworks Studio in 2010.
I recently updated my book "How to Facilitate Art for Older Adults" and I was flooded with such a rich sense of appreciation for the rare opportunity I had to witness older artists discovering their creative power - often for the first time in their lives.
Over the years, I met so many wonderful elder artists, and I learned so many different ways to facilitate art for people with dementia. And the best part is: all of the 75+ images of art in the book are created by artists aged 80 to 100+!
An Artist with Dementia
"An angry and troubled man, he would often switch gears from anger to inspiration and say the most profoundly poetic things when he painted. On one day he would be grouchy, and on another day he became enchanted with the visual world. Often, a look of pure inspiration would appear in his eyes. As he painted, he would gaze out the window and exclaim at the colour of the sky, the turn of a tree branch or the shape of a cloud. He would then say, “The sky is off-blue with a whiff of snow.”
(Quote from the book "How to Facilitate Art for Older Adults")
If you have already purchased the book you can log in to CourseCraft HERE to download your updated ebook.
I love to clarify the process of emotional healing and make it as understandable as possible without sacrificing depth. For this reason, every few years, I read through my courses to make sure they reflect my current knowledge and insights.
If you have not yet purchased 100 Days of Art Journal Therapy and you want to do some deep emotional processing through creativity, I warmly welcome you to join me. It was such a profound joy for me to write this course. This in-depth e-course shares the "how, what, why, when and where" explorations of emotional pain and how to heal it through expressive art and writing.
If you have already taken this course in the past, as part of your "lifetime access," your 2019 edition of 100 Days of Art Journal Therapy is now ready for another visit.
I often get asked to teach how to create online programs. However, according to popular marketing principles, my approach to course creation and marketing is considered completely backwards! My slow building, intuitive method of course creation and marketing have never been met with an enthusiastic response from people who want to start up an e-course business quickly.
Popular marketing wisdom tells us to build a big audience first, then survey the audience to see what they want to learn. Later, you create course content once you learn what the market wants and needs. This is what I would call the extroverted approach to creating and marketing courses.
The Wisdom of Starting Small
Today, some people go into e-course creating expecting to make six-figures in the first few years through building large email lists, and I often wonder, is this fast track realistic for introverts? As an introvert myself, it has taken me ten years of weekly sharing and growing right along with my email list.
I must say, I am in awe of the rapid speed of current marketing approaches. Today's course program marketers now build the same size email list that I have built up over a period of ten years in as little as a year - usually through group teaching programs and online interview series.
Even so, I do feel gratitude for the online interview series and group teaching events I am asked to partake in because they invite my introverted self out to speak out loud!
Please do join me for my most recent online interview about Creative Resistance with Dawn Montefusco. Dawn and I had a good laugh about our differences before we went on air. Dawn is a true extrovert! She loves talking on video. It is so easy for her. For me, every online interview takes some effortful contemplation and preparation.
You can sign up to see my interview with Dawn HERE.
Inside-Out Course Creation
When I was first building Expressive Art Workshops ten years ago I understood how easily influenced I was by the outside. Because I had such a history of being overly influenced by others, I stayed off the internet for many of the earlier years of building my business. I only went online to write my blog posts and email my courses.
Needing to originate my own voice, I created my courses from the inside-out. My newsletter subscriber list was tiny at the beginning. As an online course creator, it has taken me ten years of slow emotional maturation to personally be able to hold a wise, safe and stable container for a larger audience.
The Process of Authentic Expression
“If the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.”
~ Joseph Campbell
Many people have said to me, "I want to do exactly what you do and I want you to teach me how to do it!" The thing is...my marketing and course creation methods have no formula! I have just listened to my intuition every step of the way. Together, all of my intuitive steps eventually formed a cohesive online business that I could have never planned or trained for.
Behind the scenes, my process of business growth has been very ordinary. I have simply been willing to show up in a dedicated way even when no one was watching. Ten years ago, I was working full-time facilitating art in health care. When I got home, I made dinner for my family. I then wrote on my blog and created my e-courses before I went to bed. And, I still spend time tending my course creation and maintenance - in some capacity - every day.
Intuitive Course Creation
“The job of an educator is to teach students to see vitality in themselves”
~ Joseph Campbell
I was recently interviewed about my approach to online course creation and marketing and the article I wrote was not published. I surmise this is because my intuitive methods do not reflect current marketing standards. However, because I often get emails requesting online course creation and marketing coaching, I wanted to share the interview with you.
Because the e-course hustle is now all over the internet and a multitude of experts seemingly abound, it can seem pointless to start in a loud and oversaturated market.
I share this interview because it is easy to give up your original voice in today's market. If you are looking for an immediate large feedback loop for your original work, you might stop sharing your true heart before you really begin.
Before I started teaching online, I dreamt of a quiet, contemplative way to earn a living, and I have been surprised to learn that it is possible.
And, as a person who loves quiet time and solitary creative activities, I did not expect that sharing my authentic voice publically would help me to heal emotionally, and hone me into a vastly different human being.
My Unpublished Interview
1. You have lots of e-courses about pretty specific topics. How do you choose the course topics?
My course writing process reflects my own emotional healing journey in some way. I process my traumas, hardships and difficulties through expressive art. When I get through to the other side of a painful emotional pattern, I offer what I have experientially learned to others in the form of an e-course.
I first get an intuitive sense of what to write based on emotional themes I am working with inside of myself. Sometimes I begin writing a course right after I get the first insight, and sometimes I work on a course for a very long time.
2. How do you consider how a course will fit into the rest of your product line or customer base? Do you try to appeal to the same people with different products or offer things from many different angles for different customer types?
I have been in the online course biz long enough to see that every teacher has a very specific niche that reflects what she or he most needs to learn on a personal level. This deep engagement with our personal growth process is how we become a true teacher and a lifelong passionate learner in our area of interest.
In my niche, I support introspective, sensitive people to maintain creative practices that support emotional healing. As a contemplative introvert, I like to provide choice, privacy and variety in my online educational platform. So, I offer a profusion of creative practice prompts to invite people to come out of emotional hiding and into honest self-expression.
3. What's your biggest tip for teaching a physical, offline task like journaling in an online format?
I seem to be able to generate endless prompts for expressive writing and art-making. This is probably because I have been creating expressive art for my own emotional healing for over 20 years.
After going through many deep emotional healing journeys myself, it is no surprise that I love to create "idea sparks," and also in-depth lessons for people who need some inspiration to get honest, dig deep, and free themselves from emotional pain.
My courses provide a plethora of creative inspirations for deeper inner looking. My courses provide regular lessons with idea sparks for expressive art-making to support people to deeply explore their emotional life offline - and on online if they so choose.
4. What is one thing you wish you had done better or more of when you launched your first course?
When we are creating courses from within our own life process, we teach what we most need to learn. For this reason, it can take years to fully mature into our true teaching. Online courses come only as a hint or an inking at first, and then we have to flesh them out in writing, imagery, voice and video over time.
My first e-course called "Collage for Self-Discovery" was written over ten years ago. Back then, I used to personally email the various course lessons to each of my participants every Sunday afternoon! Initially, I taught only 1-4 people at a time, never dreaming that online courses would become so popular.
What is the one thing I wish I would have done better? I wish I had not judged the worth of my first courses by how many sales I made. When we are innovating teaching processes from within our own original growth process, the courses we create might be expressing a paradigm shift and may be ahead of their time.
I always feel better emotionally when I focus more on the process of creating my courses than my course sales. I love immersing the process of course creation because it opens my heart so deeply to the people I imagine will take my course. I find when I take my mind off of the numbers, and share from my heart, I am surprised and grateful when my courses sell well....either now or later.
"Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance.”
~ Steven Pressfield
We talked about why we are so often afraid of our authentic self-expression.
I shared that we all have a spiritual self that wants to express all of who we are. And, we also have younger, fearful personality parts inside that fear standing out in the crowd.
To "get along" in society we have protective parts of self. Some social protectors keep us fitting in, conforming and carefully scanning the environment to see if it feels safe.
These (younger) social protectors are often self-critical. They criticize us in way that we have been criticized in the past in an attempt to keep us safe, small and fitting in.
The good news is, we can develop a different kind of social protector to help us feel safer to express who we really are! We can ask for an inner protector that advocates for our authentic self-expression. We can ask an inner protector to help us feel big and bright and brave!
In my interview with Dawn, I shared how a recent intuitive collage called herself my "authenticity protector." (See my collage above.) What a wonderful shift of confidence this fierce inner protector has created in me!
What a beautiful conversation we had during Soul Art Day 2019 with Laura Hollick! I really enjoyed the breadth and depth of what we discussed. The topic was "Art as Medicine" and we discussed the healing range of intuitive art from trauma integration to the highest octaves of joy. If you have not yet watched our conversation you can view it HERE.
In our conversation, I shared how after years of emotional shadow work, joy is now coming through my spontaneous art - simply and very delightfully! I have written a creative practice course on my current explorations in affirmative collage. You can view the course HERE.
“F.L.Y. First Love Yourself. Others will come next.”
This past year I have been intensely creative for me! What a journey I have been on, bringing my less mature inner child and teen parts of myself into the full light of my mature awareness through intuitive collage.
Moving into new levels of self-respect and self-love, I invite you to see what I have been up to in my digital collage gallery HERE.
Intuitive art has been such a healing force in my life, I think this is such a magical invitation to consider. Imagine ten thousand of us creating intuitive art on the same day! Surely, this must anchor a positive force of powerful creativity onto the earth.
Please join us HERE. It’s free!
Soul Art Day is a unique online event gathers thousands of people from across the globe to create art together for the day.
It is quite an extraordinary online event. International Soul Art Day is a creative vortex where over 10,000 artists around the world create intuitive art together on the same day! You can see a picture gallery of Soul Art Day HERE.
Come join us! Laura will be hosting a live creative global event in her art studio and all over the world online.
Join me and thousands of other Creative Spirits on June 5th!
Twenty years ago, I worked as a junior art curator in a "bricks and mortar" art gallery. In 2011, I started curating expressive art on my virtual Facebook Gallery Expressive Art Inspirations.
In support of the emotional healing process, I fell in love with the pairing of expressive art with meaningful quotes. Recently, I felt inspired to go through 8 years of posts, and I thought, "These posts are just too gorgeous to be buried within Facebook!"
It was so fun to choose my most inspired curations from the past eight years. If you are struggling with emotional pain, I hope you feel encouraged by the quotes. If you are an artist, I hope you will love the expressive art I have curated.
If you are on my email list you will receive this free series automatically. If you not on my email list, and are interested in weekly inspirational art and quotes, I invite you to sign up here.
If you are an empathic, intuitive, creative, emotionally sensitive person, one of your greatest challenges will likely be to learn how to process the uncomfortable and disturbing emotional energies around you, and within you.
Besides processing your own quota of personal pain, you might consider that emotional healing is also an interpersonal and transpersonal process that includes feeling and distinguishing the emotional energies of other people, places and time.
Some people who see me for therapy cannot find a tangible story of abuse in their life history to explain why they suffer so much. If you cannot access traumatic memories from your past, and you are feeling intense emotional pain, you might contemplate how you are being affected by:
If you are suffering from emotional pain, your "hurt story" could be far too small to explain what you experiencing. If you are highly sensitive to your own disquieting emotions, and to the disturbing emotions of others, solidifying a logical narrative about the cause of your emotional pain might not be the best healing route for you.
Because emotions need to be energy in motion, creating a story about why you are in pain can limit your fullest healing potential. As an energetically sensitive being, you might need to process your emotions in ways that do not involve locking into logical sequential thinking.
Emotions are energy in motion and they need to continuously flow. Pain arises from trapped and repressed emotions. Emotions that are not flowing hurt. For highly sensitive people, getting your emotional field flowing again is the key to emotional healing.
Over the past 20 years, Paolo Knill, Shaun McNiff, Natalie Rogers and Steve and Ellen Levine have pioneered the evolving theory of intermodal/multimodal expressive arts practices as a way to "increase the range of play" in therapy. As a way to care for yourself, you can regularly take breaks from habitual states of mind by designing your own regular expressive arts practice sessions. In this article, I offer ideas on how to set up a multimodal expressive arts practice at home.
In an expressive arts practice session, it is encouraged that you try two or more disciplines of artistic expression to deepen the meaning and momentum of your experience. You might, for example, transfer from painting to dancing, and then write a poem before your session is complete. As you move from one creative discipline to another, it is helpful to keep notes about how your process has deepened, enriched and progressed through each creative discipline.
We transform painful emotional states by entering into the imaginative world of play, dreams, visions, free association, guided imagery, making art, interacting with art, and using metaphors and brainstorming. Expressive arts practices create a container for change which Paolo Knill calls "alternate experiences of worlding." After a period of expressive arts practice, we re-enter the regular world with all our adult concerns and responsibilities, changed and opened, with a newly enlivened perspective.
Entering into a regular expressive arts practice, you can temporarily leave the troubled logic of your practical life behind, and enter into the "intuitive logic" of your imagination." Helpful symbolism for forward-growth arrives through right-brained creative play, imagination and intuitive exploration. Right brain imagination has its own intuitive logic that differs from linear left brain thinking. Entering into your imagination through structured expressive practices, you can temporarily move away from problem bound states to resource surprisingly new solutions.
The expressive arts could be considered a kind of play for adults. The expressive arts provide ways for you to leave your logical mind and experiment spontaneously into ever-new realms of imagination. Creating spaces and times to create spontaneously every day can loosen you from the world-weariness of adult concerns and invite the long-forgotten innocence from your childhood to reemerge.
The aim of an expressive arts practice is to explore two or more artistic disciplines within a single session. Regularly changing up your creative practices can keep you imaginatively nimble. Expanding your range of play by creating a drawing and then writing a poem about it, or dancing to a song you are singing can deepen your connection to your imaginal world.
To "decenter" out of regular linear consciousness and "expand your range of play," you can open the door to your imagination through the combination of two or more expressive arts disciplines. You might consider combining some of the following: painting, drawing, writing in your journal, creating a poem, collage, singing, playing an instrument, acting out a play, dancing, or whatever else feels right at the moment.
Knill refers to expressive arts explorations as finding "freedom within limits." To set up regular expressive arts practices, I invite you to explore spontaneity within the following structures:
Did you miss the Art Bundle for Good #3 last fall? If so you can enter to win $4000 of Art Resources. The Art Bundle Giveaway starts today April 20th and runs to April 26th. Three people will win. There is no cost to enter!
I have contributed my Intuitive Mandala Meditation Video Course to the bundle.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
If you love creating mixed media art and care about the earth, this is the course bundle sale for you!
Art for Earth offers over 75 mixed media art resources worth over 3700 USD for 98 USD. (See the course list below)
Fundraising for Reforestation
25% of the sales will go to support the Tree Sisters beautiful mission. Tree Sisters channel 80% of their donations to reforestation organizations that they partner with to restore ecosystems in the tropics. The remaining 20% of funds work with women to reinstate feminine leadership and normalize collective ownership of planetary restoration.
Here is what you will receive in your great big mixed media video course bundle!
1. “Mother Nature” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) by Tamara Laporte
2. “Beautiful Bugs” (Bonus) (Mixed Media Art Workshop) by Tamara Laporte
3. “Tell It: Collage” (Collage Art Class) with Liz Lamoreux
4. “She Blooms in Ink” (7 week Mixed Media & Inks Art Workshop) by Tamara Laporte
5. “On A Men Hunt” (Online Mixed Media Art Workshop) by Muriel Stegers
6. “Fearless Expression” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) by Annie Hamman
7. “Flamingo Love” (Watercolour Class) with Sally Walsh from Sillier Than Sally
8. “Facing Forward 1” (Mixed Media Art Journalling Workshop) with Effy Wild
9. “Luscious Landscapes” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tracy Verdugo
10. “Be Humble/Be Noble” (A Watercolor Art Workshop) with Sarah Trumpp
11. “Real Time Live with Flora Bowley” (Live Streamed Painting Class)
12. “Faux Encaustics Spring Fling” (An Encausting Workshop) with Dena Adams
13. “Gratitude Journaling 101” (An Art Journalling Workshop) with Kiala Givehand
14. “Birthday Cake” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
15. “A Walk Down Cherry Street” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
16. “Lesson 1” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
17. “Imprinted” (A Gelli Printing Workshop) with Lucy Brydon
18. “Whimsical Watercolors – PAWfect Furry Friends Online Class” with Andrea Gomoll
19. “Earth’s Mother, Mixed Media Art Class” with Melanie Rivers
20. “The Gilded Brush” (A Workshop Inspired by Gustav Klimt) with Ivy Newport
21. “Where Once Was Water” (An Expressive Figurative Painting) with Emma Petitt
22. “Bountiful” Bonus (A Mixed Media Art Class) with Emma Petitt
23. “The Emergency Kit for Artists + Dreamers” with Andrea Schroeder
24. “The Banishing Fairy” (A Mixed Media Art Class) with Renata Loree
25. “Facing Forward 2” (Mixed Media Art Journalling Workshop) with Effy Wild
26. “Remember my song” High Resolution Printable by Annie Hamman
27. “The Secret to Lighting Up Your Life” (Art Journalling Workshop) with Whitney Freya
28. “Weird, Wordy Watercolors” (A Watercolor Art Workshop) with Sarah Trumpp
29. “Rise Above the Master Class” (A Self Coaching Painting Process with Whitney Freya
30. “Paint Buddha” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Whitney Freya
31. “The 21 Day Painting Meditation Challenge” with Whitney Freya
32. “Abstract by Design” (Creating Abstract Art) with Ivy Newport
33. “The Magic Forest” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Cristin Chambers
34. “The Princess and the Pea” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
35. “You Will Find Your Way” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Toni Burt
36. “I wish, I wish…” (Watercolor and Mixed Media art class) with Mandy van Goeije
37. “From Wishes to Needs” (Watercolor and Mixed Media art class) with Mandy van Goeije
38. “The Little Big World” bonus e-book by Mandy van Goeije
39. “Between Shadow & Light” (A Portrait Class) with Ivy Newport
40. “Matisse vs Picasso” (Oil or Acrylics Art Class) with Lucy Chen
41. “heART the Earth Printable Coloring Page & Artprint” by Andrea Gomoll
42. “Soulful Shapes” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
43. “Reflect and Reclaim Your Creative Freedom – 5 Amazing Art Journaling Lessons for Your Heart” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tiare Smith
44. “Seeds of Love” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
45. “Soup du Jour” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
46. “I Spy” (A Collage Workshop) with Janet Skates
47. “Fly, Be Free!” (An Abstract Art Workshop) with Janet Skates
48. “Wild Wonder” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Annamieka Davidson
49. “Abundance” High Resolution Printable by Annie Hamman
50. “Drawing Frida – A Pastel Portrait Workshop” with Juna Biagioni
51. Woodland Magic” (Acrylics Art Workshop) with Katrina Koltes
52. “Woven Dreams” (A Fiber Art Workshop) with Laly Mille
53. “Creative Abundance Guidebook” (E-Book) with Shelley Klammer
54. “Wax On” (Encaustic Monoprints and Watercolor) with Wyanne Thompson
55. “Book of Flow …and so it continues” (Art Journaling E-course) with Jenny Grant
56. “Doll Dreams – Digital coloring book with 15 images” (Colouring Book PDF) by Ady Almanza
57. “Magic Woman” High Resolution Art Print by Ady Almanza
58. “Layered Mandala” (Mixed Media Painting Workshop) with Faith Evans-Sills
59. “Leaf Painting Workshop” with Faith Evans-Sills
60. “Boho Walking” Retro ~60s-70s Art Class (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Pamela Vosseller
61. “The 21 Day Painting Meditation Challenge” (Meditation & Watercolour Workshop with Whitney Freya
62. “Painting the Muse” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Alena Hennessy
63. “Transparendipity” (Art Journaling Workshop) with France Papillon
64. “Autumn Fairy” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
65. “Fall by the River” Mixed Media Landscape Workshop) with Roberta Laliberte
66. “Create a Papercut Effect in Procreate” (Digital Workshop for iPad on ProCreate) with Kathy Glynn
67. “Smallest Acts of Kindness” High Resolution Printable by Annie Hamman
68. “A Doll Story” (Learn How to Create Cloth Dolls Online Class) with Danita Art
69. “Mother Nature” High Resolution Art Print (for personal use) by Tamara Laporte
70. “Nature Collage Sheet” High Resolution PDF by Tamara Laporte
71. “Compassionate Flow: Deer Girl” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
72. “Art Journaling & Mixed Media e-course” with Marieke Blokland
73. “Walk Gently Upon the Earth” High Resolution Art Print (for personal use) by Kathy Glynn
74. “Cute Monster Mini Class” (Mixed Media Course in E-book + Video) by Marielle Stolp
75. “Printable Collage Sheet”A collage sheet with cute girlies that can be used in a planner or bullet journal or for card making by Marielle Stolp
76. “A Heart Full of Happy (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
77. “A Walk Down Cherry Street” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
78. “Daring Adventures in Collage ” (Online Collage Workshop) with Mati Rose McDonough
79. “Starry Eyed” (Large Scale Painting Workshop) with Stephen Lursen
80. “Painted Backgrounds” Printable Mixed Media Collage sheets by Marieke Blokland
81. “Beautiful Bumble Bee” High Resolution Art Print (for personal use) by Tamara Laporte
82. “Our Lady of Abundance” with Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici
83. “A Portrait Course Inspired by Henri Toulouse Lautrec (Mixed Media Art) with Lauren Rudolph
When I created my educational website Expressive Art Workshops over ten years ago, I had no idea what a large portal it would become for people interested in the expressive arts.
Over the years, I have initiated three sharing portals that you are welcome to participate in:
Recent Sharing on the Portals
1. Creative Healing Stories: Morgan Blair - Art and Eating Disorders - Morgan Blair is the Founder and Creative Director of Unpolished Journey. Through her own recovery from an eating disorder, PTSD, and depression, she decided to build a community of survivors who could share their stories through creative expression. Read more...
2. Art Programs Around the World: Kassi Martin - Expressive Arts Facilitation in Scotland - Kassi provides Expressive Arts for everyone however, the majority who attend and sign up online are Caring Professionals. Read more...
3. Creative Process Portal: Elliot Thompson - Illustrator - What do feelings look like? What do they sound like? Elliot's book is a structured guide of human emotion, through illustration and poetry. Read more...
4. Creative Healing Stories: María Sanz Gallego - Gestalt Art Therapist - Maria from Madrid, Spain implements body-based art therapy to transform what does not feel supportive - for herself and others. Read more...
5. Art Programs Around the World: Panna Maestrini - Expressive Arts Facilitator in Italy - Panna loves sharing the expressive arts by hosting guests in her Sparks of Wonder studio and house near Perugia and Assisi. Read more...
6. Creative Healing Stories: Louise Chalmers - shares how creativity and nature can help us to heal ourselves.
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Fear is defined in the dictionary as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something dangerous is likely to cause pain or a threat.
Fear is a hardwired primitive emotion. Fear is like an alarm system, which warns us against threats to survival. Survival, in our ancestral past, meant staying alive in the face of threats that could cause death or serious harm.
Fear can also habitually arise in the absence of a present moment threat. Anticipatory or objectless fear can turn into chronic anxiety related to nothing specific to our current life, and this can become debilitating.
"The negativity bias is the notion that even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one's psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things.
In other words, something very positive will generally have less of an impact on a person's behavior and cognition than something equally emotional but negative." (Wiki)
Negative Emotional Triggers
Neuroscientist Dr Rick Hanson explains how our ancestral "survival brain" is wired to be biased toward the negative. He writes, "In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. That shades “implicit memory” – your underlying expectations, beliefs, action strategies, and mood – in an increasingly negative direction."
It is easy to become trapped in negativity. Because our brains are wired for survival, our default feeling is fear. Fearful thoughts, repeated over time and throughout generations, become deeply patterned into our neurology.
Not realizing that we are "practicing" our negative emotions, we accumulate lower vibrational thoughts, emotions and experiences into an ongoing pain story that can feel hard to climb out of. Assembling more fear-based evidence along the way, we unconsciously confirm that our negativity bias is real.
"Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality."
~ Earl Nightingale
If you are hurting emotionally, you can be sure you are repeating a fearful thought. And, fearful thinking gathers power through repetition. (See How to Feel Safe.)
Fear makes us feel small and inadequate. Repetitive fear can have us doubting our capacities to be able to "make it" in the world. Always on the lookout for what is wrong, we forget about what is good about our life.
Our negativity bias might have us fearing we are not good enough, not lovable enough, not worthy, smart or talented enough, or not abundant enough to be able to physically survive. The good news is, once we become aware of our negativity bias we can regularly interrupt it.
Here are 7 ways to interrupt chronic negative emotions:
1. Witness Your Mind
In meditation, you can learn to identify more with your larger witnessing self instead of just your smaller hurting self. You can witness our innate negativity bias without becoming it.
2. Expand Your Awareness
To expand your sense of self start a daily creative project, spend time in nature or cultivate a regular spiritual practice to invoke feelings of awe.
3. Contradict Negative Thinking
Counteract your negativity bias soon as you notice the painful thought. Identify your painful thought and then interrupt the negative momentum with a new better-feeling thought or action.
4. Repeat Positive Affirmations
When stuck in the negativity bias, saying "I am..." positive affirmations can feel fake. When you feel doubtful about better-feeling thoughts, practice wondering instead. "I wonder what it would feel like to be loved, successful, respected...etc." As you wonder, a slight sense of possibility will arise. Build on this.
5. Minimize Negative Stimuli
Your subconscious mind registers all violence as emotionally real. If you are prone to chronic negativity, it is best to avoid watching the news, violent television and movies. You also might also want to spend more time with people that support and uplift you.
6. Appreciate What You Have
All negative emotions are underpinned with a fear of lack. To build a feeling of abundance, see how many things you can appreciate during the day. When you are struggling with fear and negativity, amplify your appreciation for even the smallest details in your life.
7. Amplify the Good
Fear-based survival programming is deeply conditioned into our brain, body and nervous system. To interrupt your negativity bias, persistent, the deliberate practice of noticing what is good will increase your joy.
I keep a "Focusing Journal" where I regularly listen to my body's wisdom. I feel that daily Focusing tunes me up as a therapist and grounds me into my body. It also helps me to be a more compassionate human being.
I have been studying Inner Relationship Focusing for many years, and I am always astounded by the insight that comes through my Focusing sessions.
How to Intuitively Listen Within
We heal emotionally by listening deeply to the body. When we feel anxious, there is usually an emotion that needs our loving attention. Symbols and solutions for positive change arise from within when we get quiet.
1. BEING IN PRESENCE
“I’M SENSING SOMETHING IN ME THAT FEELS…”
Presence is a state of unconditionally "being with" whatever is arising in your awareness.
Whenever you catch yourself saying, “I am…” or “I feel…,” notice how it would feel to say, “I’m sensing that something in me feels…”
Presence is powerful. From presence, you can be with any emotion without feeling overwhelmed. When you are aware of your inner experiences, you can acknowledge them and say "hello" to them.
From witnessing presence, you can sense how each inner experience is a part of you, and that you are much larger than any single part. You are even larger than all your parts put together.
Your witnessing Presence is able to keep company with everything within you with compassion.
2. GOING SLOWLY
“I’M TAKING TIME TO…”
What you do not yet know needs time and space to emerge and unfold.
When you take your time to really feel into your body, you allow a "living forward" process to happen.
It is in the body that our ‘next step" lives.
You need to go slowly enough for the unfolding of your inner symbology to arise. If you feel you’re not going very deep into your body, try going even slower.
Notice exactly what is happening right here, right now. When we slow down and keep something company in this slow way, our body will communicate to us through words, poetry, symbols and imagery.
3. SENSING IN THE BODY
“I’M NOTICING HOW THAT FEELS IN MY BODY NOW”
The body always exists in present time. The body communicates the truth of how we are feeling right now.
The body cannot lie. We might want to ignore what can be felt in the body, but if it is there, it is real.
The body also expresses wholeness. The body brings the whole situation, all of our past and all our future relating to this problem, this stuckness, into this single felt-moment - now.
As you keep company with something in your body, a fresh image, word or thought will likely come into your awareness.
4. STAYING IN CONTACT WITH THE UNCLEAR EDGE
“I’M SENSING FOR WHAT IS UNCLEAR HERE”
In Focusing, we can be with our experiencing in a way that is open and curious about what is unclear.
To help the ‘more’ from your subconscious to open, you need to hang out at the edge of the whole thing. You need to sit near the places you don’t know.
It is important to notice and value what is fuzzy, vague, puzzling, unclear, and hard to put into words. This is where the ‘more’ is to be found.
Whenever you are taking your time and feeling it in your body, you can sense for the ‘edge,’ a sense of something not-quite-in-words-yet, almost-known, and ‘fuzzy.’
This is where the life-forward energy is enfolded. Learning to cherish the slow, the subtle and the vague helps your inner symbology from your subconscious to emerge.
“I’M LETTING IT KNOW IT CAN BE THE WAY IT IS FOR AS LONG AS IT NEEDS TO BE”
As we take time to keep company the unclear edge in our bodies, we are creating a space for something new to emerge.
At this point, we do nothing but keep company with what’s there and wait.
It can be very difficult to just stay with something, keeping it company, when it feels like nothing is happening.
The more we can trust that our body knows the direction that we need to grow, the easier this whole process will be.
From Presence, we can patiently wait with something until it is time for it to shift. When something shifts, it is an experience that can be described as grace – beyond our control.
5. HOLDING A SPACE FOR SOMETHING NEW TO COME
“I’M SAYING ‘YES’ TO WHAT’S COME”
If we already knew what our growth direction looked like, we wouldn’t need Focusing to find it. So when it comes, it may surprise us. In fact, it probably won’t be what we expected at all.
Whenever we sense some kind of movement, shift, relief, opening, flowing in our bodies, we are experiencing a step forward.
A new insight is often followed by a deep spontaneous breath.
A new insight might just be a word or phrase that doesn’t seem connected with anything but somehow it feels right in your body.
It might be a single word or an image that seems strange or even bizarre. Whatever it is - if it fits with how your body feels - it symbolizes your next step.
6. WHATEVER FEELS LIKE ‘FRESH AIR’ IS A STEP, NO MATTER WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
Your symbol might not an actual ‘action step’ but a ‘process step.’ Sometimes inner realizations do not require outer action.
In order for your inner process to ‘carry forward,’ you need to suspend judgment about what should happen, what action should be taken, and where this will lead.
A ‘step’ is a shift, however small. It is a change in how your current situation is perceived and carried forward in the body.
If you sense more flow in your body, and if it feels good - it is a step that needs to be welcomed.
AN UNFOLDING PROCESS
Symbols for growth unfold one after the other from the body. Each symbol is only a step in the whole process of living forward.
It is important to remember that the symbols from your subconscious are just an indicator of how to move forward. The direct experience in your body will always be more than you can capture in a symbol, no matter how well it fits.
“If you can sit with your pain, listen to your pain and respect your pain—in time you will move through your pain.”
~ Bryant McGill
It is so challenging to "sit with" emotional pain until it reveals its story. Yet, to feel peace within, we must find ways to respect the painful parts of ourselves.
To feel complete peace with ourselves, all emotions must be accepted so that our limiting "pain stories" can be recognized. When we find the story that creates the pain, it can be "re-storied" towards health and happiness.
Respecting Emotional Pain
I have a dedicated sketchbook where I delve into my emotional discomfort through intuitive drawing. When needed, I create an intuitive "pain drawing" and spend a month (or more) "respecting" my drawing until it reveals its story to me. This way of processing emotional pain is patient, reverent and it brings about deep change.
Below I share a way to "soften" your emotional pain so it will reveal its limiting story to you. This process involves creating an "intuitive pain drawing" and offering regular acceptance to the visual representation of your emotional pain.
Once the resistance to my emotional pain releases, I gain insights into what is causing my discomfort, and then I know how to make a shift for the better.
Moving Toward Emotional Discomfort
This exercise is for those of us who repress emotional pain and need to learn how to listen to its messages. Instead of recoiling from your pain, set the courageous intention to get to know this part of yourself. Your emotions are trying to tell you something important about how you are seeing your life in a limiting way.
Use this art process when you are judging an emotion as negative or unpleasant. This process also works for physical pain because unexpressed emotional pain somatizes as discomfort in the body.
Relax as you begin this art process. Take several slow deep breaths. Allow yourself to feel all of your emotions. Look for areas of contraction, dislike or aversion to discomfort in your body.
Creating an Intuitive Pain Drawing
(*This art process was inspired and informed by psychotherapist Karči Cole Kňazovický)
Step 1. Talk to your emotional pain. (Welcome you pain to be here. Notice any discomfort or easing that comes with your attention.)
Invite an emotion that you find unacceptable to come forward into your awareness. Say “hello” to your sadness, your anger, your fear, your shame, your loneliness. If you are unaware of an emotion, focus on a tight, numb or painful part of your body.
Once you have identified a feeling of pain (or an area in your body), imagine you are meeting a stranger, determined to get to know this part of yourself that you usually try to push out of your awareness.
Sometimes this greeting can be startling to aspects of self that have long been denied. Difficult emotions that have never received acknowledgement or acceptance can be surprised by your sudden friendliness.
Art Process: As you say hello to your pain, begin to draw intuitively with a black pen. Allow your emotional pain to form a visual shape or structure.
Step 2. Work up to accepting your emotional pain.
Ask yourself: Can I accept this painful emotion? Let the answer spontaneously come. Be honest. Saying "no" is often more honest than saying "yes.”
If the answer is "no", ask yourself again, “Is it okay that it is no?” Again wait for the reply. Allow your answer to emerge from your heart. Do not seek the answer from your mind.
If the reply is "no" again, continue asking: “Is "no" an okay answer?” Continue asking until you get a "yes". “Yes” is a form of acceptance. Patiently wait for your mind and heart to open. Acceptance is what your pain needs.
Art Process: In the spirit of self-acceptance, allow discomforting imagery, symbols or colours into your drawing if they want to be there. You might have parts that are "ugly" or distorted that want to be included in your drawing.
Step 3. Explain to your pain why you had to deny it.
Take time and ask yourself for reasons why you had to deny this emotion. When the answers come, speak directly to the emotion as if you were talking to a friend whom you could not talk to for a long time.
Simple, honest answers soothe the rejected parts of self.
Art Process: Be aware of the reasons for your denial as you draw. Speak to your drawing about your denial.
Step 4. Apologize to your emotional pain
This step requires courage. Notice your resistance to speaking kindly to your pain. Notice the urge to want to get rid of your pain.
The mind likes to "parcel" pain away as a self-protection mechanism. Sense into your mind's desire to stay separate from your pain. Joining your mind and heart together, say, "I am so sorry I have ignored you."
Art Process: Write out or speak your apology out loud as you draw.
Step 5. Ask forgiveness from your emotional pain.
Ask the pained part of yourself to forgive you for denying it and excluding it from inclusive participation in your life. Your pain will forgive you for ignoring it - if you ask deeply and sincerely.
You might say the ho'oponopono prayer: "I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank-you. I love you."
Art Process: On the opposite page of your drawing, write out your forgiveness prayer or say it out loud as you draw.
Step 6. Forgive yourself for denying your emotional pain.
Accept yourself and forgive yourself for ignoring your pain for so long. “I forgive myself for denying my _________” can be repeated several times until you feel a sense of relief. Let your heart guide you.
If forgiveness feels impossible, try: “I accept myself for feeling _____ and I forgive myself for not accepting myself earlier.” Repeat this several times, slowly, until you feel a release.
Art Process: Intend self-forgiveness as you draw.
Step 7. Release judgments.
As we hold loving space for our feelings they change and become new. A painful emotion feels difficult to tolerate before it develops an unhindered flowing quality.
Say “I release the judgment that this emotion is wrong, bad or something to avoid.” Then allow your painful emotion (and intuitive drawing) to become a part of your daily life.
Art Process: Place your drawing in a place where you can look at it. Gaze upon your "emotional pain drawing" until you feel a complete acceptance of it.
Step 8. Negotiate a new relationship with this painful part.
If your emotional pain is not fully transformed through this expressive arts process, "sit with" your drawing for a month or more. Put your drawing in a place where you can meditate upon it daily.
I felt aversion to my "pain drawing" below. I wanted to hide my drawing my closet and forget about it! When I feel aversion, I say, "I love you" to my pain.
I stayed with my drawing for about a month, saying, "I love you/I accept you" when it felt difficult. Gradually my resistance to my "pain drawing" dissipated, and a touching, yet limiting story from my younger years emerged.
By staying with a pain that you have visually expressed, you are training yourself to accept what is really happening inside of you without judgment or resistance.
If you really delve into the exercise, you will recognize your denial and soften your blocks to love’s presence. With ongoing acceptance, you will free the energy flow in your body and in your life.
This process can be applied to physical aches, illnesses, emotional hurts, depressions or any place that you find in yourself that is not completely happy.
Intuitive drawing comes from our subconscious - from the edge of what we do not yet know about ourselves. For this reason, it is fruitful to intuitively draw your pain and trust that the meaning will be revealed later.
I meditatively "sat with" a pervasive pain in my heart during and after creating this intuitive drawing. I companioned my intuitive drawing for over a month before I understood what it meant to me.
Some days it felt difficult to stay with my drawing. However, by releasing judgments and repeatedly forgiving the pain for "plaguing me" with discomfort, my drawing gradually revealed its heroic but limited childhood narrative.
Emotional pain is created from limiting decisions that were made from a less mature state of consciousness. Staying with an intuitive drawing with loving patience will reveal its messages. Once the (younger) limiting story is made conscious, we can make new choices for well-being.
We do not always know what is best for our growth. Because our ego is split into parts, with various factions competing to get differing emotional needs met, we cannot always perceive our own best interests. When we follow our (ego) self-will we will make many mistakes. But, this will also bring the lessons necessary to learn and grow, albeit through struggle, burnout, pain, illness, and confusion.
The process of deep emotional healing sometimes feels stressful because our bodies retain unresolved feelings long after it is necessary. When we follow our inner knowing about how to heal emotionally, we may take steps that feel unusual or even difficult, but each intuitive step is accompanied by an inner affirmation of peace and relief.
Unresolved emotions need to be worked through slowly, giving the body time to integrate and absorb what has come into the light. Breathing deeply, sitting still, or laying down with arms open to Spirit is often all that is needed for emotion to release. Staying with whatever comes up, without thinking about it, moves the emotion out of submersion, and into the light of love.
Excerpted from A Course in Creating Miracles
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
~ Carl Jung
Intuitive collage is a process of quieting your everyday mind and inviting imagery to express the story of your inner world.
Intuitive collage will always tell you something that you do not yet know about yourself. Intuitive collage will communicate the "growth edge" that is emerging from your unconscious mind.
I love intuitive collage because it does not require any sort of cultivated artistic "talent." Over the past 15 years, intuitive collage has taken me on a journey to the depths of my unconscious, and it continues to inform me today.
I have been passionately exploring digital collage this past year. Digital collage is such a fast way to process emotions and make the unconscious conscious. You can see my visual process and instructions HERE.
As much as I have grown to love digital collage. I still love the tactile process of getting my hands sticky with paper collage. As I finish up my 365 mandala practice in 2018, I am gearing up for a 365 paper collage practice for 2019.
Here are instructions on how to make a paper collage.
Intuitive Magazine Collage
You will need a sketchbook or loose paper, a glue stick, scissors, and magazines to cut up.
Magazine Collage Process
1. Quiet your mind. Take three deep breaths and quiet your mind. Sink your awareness deep into your body. Set your rational mind on "silent" and sense into what you do not yet know inside yourself.
2. Tear out 10-20 magazine pages. Quickly flip through a magazine and instinctively pull out 10-20 pages that move you emotionally - positive or negative.
3. Cut out your imagery. Meditatively cut out 10 - 15 images and words that emotionally move you the most.
4. Arrange your collage. Intuitively arrange your imagery. Lay down your largest images as your background and spontaneously layer your smaller images and words on top.
5. Glue down your images and words. Gently move your image arrangement to the side of your paper and glue down your background first and then layer on the other images.
6. Contemplate your collage. Hold your heart gently and soften your eyes. Sense into your collage and contemplating what it means to you.
Initially, an intuitive collage offers up a "feeling-tone" that might not have words. Bask in the "feeling-tone of you your inner world in visual form.
If any insights or words "pop into" your mind write them down on the back of your collage. If no insights come, just enjoy the results of your honest self-expression.
Try to contemplate your collage for an entire day and then put it away. Pull it out at a later time and see if more insights come.