What most needs attention in your life now? That's how a very meaningful Tamalpa Life/Art Process® experience started for me, when my mentor, Daria Halprin, asked the question at the beginning of a retreat.
In exploration, I let myself peel layers of grief tied to a wound overlooked for years.
It was hard to speak of that hurt, but movement, drawing, poetry, and nature gave expression to my pain.
As our work neared closing, we performed rituals in honor of the material surfaced through the week. Just the day before, she had guided us in a practice in nature, where I was relating with a branch that slipped from my grasp and landed among the roots of ancient redwoods.
I brought some art into my ritual, and on an impulse, I placed a self-portrait under another drawing.
I began moving slowly, deliberately, feeling the pain build up and following it. My movement became more intense, I felt an impulse to walk in circles, then run.
I fell hard.
I stayed on the ground. Still. Breathing in the contraction, my body released. Like the branch, I was back with the earth, held.
Coming back to the drawings, I saw that the hidden portrait was of me falling, roots as hair.
The spiral took me to the ground, where I hadn’t allowed that wound to take me. It interrupted my running in circles, bringing me where I had support. When I stood up, I was stronger. At peace. My movements more free, full of life.
Daria, watching, said: “I was proud of how you took that fall and stayed on the ground. There are no mistakes”
Right. Our bodies hold so much wisdom and will guide us towards healing if we let them - to places where spirit and alchemy manifest.
We’re so afraid to fall, to be down. But underneath the surface there’s so much life.
“If I’m gonna fall, I’ll spend time on the ground and dig for the gold”
When we fall, we gotta let the body yield to the earth, linger, and mourn in presence and patience - eyes open to see the gold. We’ll find strength to rise again if we make space for collapsing too.
Once we stand, we’ll feel lighter and more aware of our strength and resiliency. We’ll be able to reorient, take new steps and leap.
And, holding the treasures we dug out of the dirt with our own hands, we’ll move on, carrying more power and wisdom than before.
Photos: Lesley Chapman