How I Learned to Move my Energy

Some years ago I attended an art therapy class at Callanish. The theme was “Loving, Kindness, and Forgiveness.” Each week, we dutifully showed up. I was never sure what to expect. Nor was I ever prepared for what happened. The sessions started out the same. We shared a small update about our lives. Then we moved straight into a guided meditation on the theme. After, we headed into the art room.

The art room felt inspiring. It was white, bright, and airy feeling. Yet, never felt clinical or like obligatory therapy. Shelves lined the walls with an assortment of craft supplies. You could knit, paint, work with clay, paper, or fabric. The possibilities were endless.

I recall one particularly hard day. One of the participants shared some heavy news with the group. A cancer recurrence. She didn’t know how to tell her kids. After meditating, we moved silently, with purpose into the art room. That day I selected two shallow boxes of different sizes to paint. I still have them.

At the end of the session, we shared our work. The participant with the hard news started crying. With a shrug of her shoulders she explained she hadn’t done much. She said all she did was put blobs of color on the paper. And that she wasn’t even sure what she was doing.

One of the facilitators looked at her kindly and said it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that she kept her energy moving. Though I didn’t realize at the time, it’s a life lesson I still carry with me over fourteen years later. When I go through a difficult patch, or feel stuck, I focus on keeping my energy moving.

The first time I blogged about this theme the message was concrete and formulaic. In reality, getting going again, or unsticking one’s energy can be a feat. And to keep the energy moving, once unstuck, can feel equally daunting. However, I always find myself going back to that one art therapy session. Some days, blobs of color on a page is good enough to do the trick.

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