Visual Metaphors in Art for Healing

Visual metaphors in art have been used throughout history to express ideas, thoughts, emotions and experiences. In my art, realism and abstraction distill the relationship between physicality and spirituality of life experience.

As an Art Facilitator and Counselor, I combine my background in decorative art with modalities of Transpersonal Psychology. In my classes we explore how visual metaphors can be used to enrich and deepen our connection with the “Transpersonal Self.”

Passage 2

Passage 1

By Alice Anne Millington (2015) Mixed Media

Art Journaling and Inward Focusing

The benefits of Art Journaling are innumerable.  Visual imagery reflects one’s personal story.  An image from a journal may inspire a written narrative or even a single word to encapsulate a felt sense.  “Gendlin gave the name ‘felt sense’ to the unclear, pre-verbal sense of ‘something’—the inner knowledge or awareness that has not been consciously thought or verbalized—as that ‘something’ is experienced in the body.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focusing). Combining narrative with images can be a process that stimulates self-inquiry and personal growth.

The Sacred Vessel

Sacred Vessel

Be still

Look within

Free from fear

Awakened Self is present

 

Using A Non-Verbal Approach: Insights Through Creative Art

Creative Art is a form of expression that gives a voice to something that is unspoken.  The personal meaning of the symbols or images that are chosen and what they “say” encapsulate inner feelings that express our inner world.  Through exercises in mixed collage, we surface parts about ourselves through spontaneous expression that is separate from words or speech.  The emphasis is on the process and observing how the body responds.

Claiming those parts of ourselves we don’t like, want to avoid or find painful, enables us to work through our deepest personal issues.  Creative Art uses a symbolic language in a pleasurable process of identifying, accepting, owning, and integrating those parts of ourselves.  When we learn to embrace these parts with curiosity, and accept them with compassion,  we can find our strengths to access greater self-acceptance. 

My work with clients dealing with issues such as emotional eating from daily stress is to not “cure” or “fix” them, but rather to help clients to flourish.  I help each client objectify their situation and think from an alternative point of view. This requires looking at daily routines in new ways, to help us break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances, and to place things in a wider framework. The symbolic images can help a client to discuss and reconcile their inner conflicts to gain a new perspective.  

Sign up for my upcoming class in October, 2015.

Alice Anne

Insights Expressive Art Therapy

Expressive Art therapy is a form of expression that gives a voice to something that is unspoken. The focus is not on the artwork itself, but rather on the personal meaning of the symbols or images that are chosen, and what they “say” about our inner feelings or thoughts. Making art, whether through collage, drawing, painting or an art journal, often enables us to surface parts about ourselves through spontaneous expression that is not always as available with words or speech.

Claiming those parts of ourselves we don’t like, want to avoid or find painful, enables us to work through our deepest personal issues. Expressive Arts uses a symbolic language in a pleasurable process of identifying, accepting, owning, and integrating those parts of ourselves. When we learn to embrace these parts with curiosity, and accept them with resilience, we can find our strengths to access greater self-acceptance.

My work with clients dealing with issues such as emotional eating or daily stress is to not “cure” or “fix” them, but rather to help clients to flourish. In my practice, I help each client objectify their situation and think from an alternative point of view. This requires looking at daily routines in new ways, to help us break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances, and place things in a wider framework. The symbolic images can help a client to discuss and reconcile their inner conflicts to gain a new perspective.

Numerous studies have influenced and shaped my belief that it is possible to have an accepting attitude towards ourselves, including our feelings of intense joy, deepest sorrow, or intense anger, when we allow ourselves to feel everything inside with dignity and self-caring. Celebrating and valuing our lives and others is an important ingredient to include in our next “meal.”

 Image

Mindfulness and Emotional Eating

Overeating or eating unhealthy processed foods leaves our bodies feeling unhealthy and fatigued, but we do it anyway.  In reality, these eating habits often numb or distance us from what lies beneath.  So how do we address this habitual pattern that impacts our health and happiness?

In my last newsletter, I compared the concepts of mindlessness vs. mindfulness practice.  Mindfulness is focusing on observing what is going on when we eat even though we are not hungry. The essence of mindful practice is to love those parts of ourselves that we think we don’t like or reject. This is where the healing process starts.   Loving ourselves requires new skills to deal with the challenges we face in daily life that shape our emotional eating habits.  These habits are often affected by other issues such as anger or resentment or relationship issues.  In order to give a voice to these feelings, we must explore what is behind these thoughts rather than unconsciously reacting with food. 

When we tap into our strengths such as our inherent curiosity, we are able to explore what is really going on with our inner experiences. We can claim those parts of ourselves that seek to be kind, compassionate and free from fear.

As you explore ways to transform self-blame and judgment into self-compassion and self-discovery, you will learn new approaches how to manage your emotional food triggers. My individualized support for each client draws upon current research in neuroscience, existential theories and practices with cognitive and mindfulness-based approaches.

Nova Wellness Counseling

Alice Anne Millington, M.A. Psych.

Office: 206-733-0349   Email: aliceanneNWC@live.com

Listening to Ourselves

I decided this weekend to enjoy a wonderful cup of tea at an outdoor cafe in Ballard.  As I sat enjoying each sip, I watched the colorfully dressed people walking while texting on their smartphones, completely immersed and oblivious to their surroundings.  I wondered how they could coordinate walking and texting without tripping on the weathered sidewalks.  Was this being “mind – full”? Which brings me to my next story.

As I drove home, I stopped momentarily at a light and observed an incident which left an indelible memory about true mindful practice.  I watched a blind woman walk on a broken sidewalk with her guide dog at her side.  I noticed the blind woman was about to trip over a six inch raised surface on one side of the sidewalk. I realized that I had moments to warn her.  But in seconds, her faithful old guide dog stepped in and assuredly pushed her body over to a place of safety. It occurred to me the dog was being present and mindful of each step.

The example of the watchful dog protecting the blind woman holds a powerful message for us. Rather than texting or being distracted from what’s around us while walking, the dog was watchful and present, protecting what was valuable. The aging dog was faithful to his task at hand, without being distracted by extraneous stress that is the product of our fears.  Irene Claremont de Castillejo said that emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body.

So how does this relate to our ability to transform our relationship with food?  We can begin to deliberately listen to what our true needs are, and find new ways to fulfill them. Our relationship with food is an extension of how we live our lives. Yet, when we get stuck in impulsive eating patterns, we can instead become more watchful with our inner guide like the helpful, loving dog.

In my last blog, I wrote about ways to move beyond our eating patterns that have become “ritual-habitual” or “unconscious food habits” in response to stress and anxiety.  As we deepen our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with our food, we start by paying attention to what we are feeling.

At Nova Wellness Counseling in Shoreline, together we explore ways to transform self-blame and judgment into self-compassion and self-discovery.  Build your self-esteem and know yourself.  Be mindful and compassionate.  Start by learning to prioritize the most important area of your life: taking care of yourself.

www.NovaWellnessCounseling.com
Office: 938 200th Street, Shoreline, WA 98133
(206) 733-0349
aliceanneNWC@live.com

 

                      

 

Moving Beyond Our Unconscious Food Habits

How can we move beyond our eating patterns that have become “ritual-habitual” or “unconscious food habits” in response to stress and anxiety? 

We all experience emotional states of stress or anxiety. It’s important to understand that in these states, our brain doesn’t function in the same way as it does when we are calm. This affects our decision-making which may result in overeating, feeling shame, and trying to regulate food.

On a physical level, when we get angry, our energy levels plummet. We feel tired and worn down from the anger. Our emotional and physical discomfort has us wanting food for comfort. Yet are we truly hungry?

A useful tool for some people is to remember the acronym, H.A.L.T. Take a moment and remind yourself. Do I feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?  Pause, and take mental note which of these factors are present. You can do a self-inventory or check before you make a choice to eat when you are not hungry.     At Nova Wellness Counseling in Shoreline, together we explore ways to transform self-blame and judgment into self-compassion and self-discovery. It starts by learning to prioritize the most important area of your life: taking care of yourself.

Our internal environment doesn’t always support us. In counseling, you will receive the support you need to be inspired and motivated to make positive changes. This means to build upon the strengths you already have. My focus is finding the positive attributes within each of us, rather than labeling and condemning a list of “problems” that need to be “fixed”. 

My work is inspired by approaches that support your potential and that empower you. Our relationship with food affects our ability to have more physical energy, and nurture our body, mind and spirit. We don’t need to be “fixed”—we need to flourish to become flexible and willing to be and act in accordance with our chosen values.     

Alice Anne Millington, M.A. Psych.

Office: (206) 733-0349

aliceanneNWC@live.com

www.NovaWellnessCounseling.com