spring 2017, Out of Darkness
Welcome to our next newsletter. We hope you are all well, coming out of a long, cold and wet winter, and we hope that the warmth of the spring sun will warm us all up very soon.
It has been a while since you heard from us, but that doesn’t mean that we have not been busy, achieving some major milestones: We have been working towards becoming an incorporated society, which we have been since May this year and we are now officially called: “Aurora Collective Incorporated”. And on the 30th of August we heard we have also been granted Charitable Status.
We have been going through these steps to become a legal entity, so that we can set up a fund to support people in financial hardship to have easier access to the therapies we offer. You will find more information on this in the What’s on column.
We have also taken a different approach to the newsletter this time, giving it a theme: “Out of Darkness” with smaller articles written by several members of the Aurora Collective. You will find something about Hakomi Therapy, the power of witnessing in a therapeutic relationship, Bowen Therapy, a reflection on Supportive Nursing therapy, a physiological/medical perspective, an Art therapy perspective, and some verses and little poems for us to reflect on.
We also have a contribution by a guest writer: Debbie Ryan, a biodynamic osteopath, talking about working with light and dark.
Happy reading, and don’t hesitate to pass this newsletter on to other people you think might be interested, and feel free to get in touch with us, with questions and suggestions for our next newsletter.
This first photo to set the scene, is of a beautiful sunrise over the Kapiti Coast, looking from the top of Paekakariki Hill, north towards Mount Ruhapehu in the far distance, with Kapiti Island on the left. Thank you Sue Pegler, for sharing that moment of beauty with us.
THE INNER GESTURE OF DARKNESS AND THE LIGHT IT BRINGS.
On waking she says ” I experienced a light shining from my breath, it spread towards my forehead and rested around my head.” She was waking from the rest time following a Rhythmical Body Oiling.
As preparation for a Rhythmical Body Oiling, the Nurse attends to the nursing space in order to meet the sensory perceptions of the person, allowing for feelings and thoughts to give rise to inner movement and response. That care of the space attends to the warmth of the environment and the gesture of the Nurse. A verse carries the intention of light and warmth.
The therapy meets the intertwining processes of the Rhythmic system of breathing with the Circulatory system of blood, yielding light and warmth.
Here is the meeting of the inner gesture of darkness and the light it brings.
Contribution by Brionie Feast
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Meditative Prayers for Today
Written by Adam Bittleston.
In any therapeutic relationship, be it with a doctor, or in a therapy using touch through oiling or massage, movement, conversation, being creative in art etc., we as clients, children and adults alike, are often in a vulnerable position.
The reason we go and see a doctor or therapist, for ourselves or for our child, is because we have indications that something is not going well, when participating in normal daily, social, life is not as easy as it could be. We enter a process to remedy that, to bring back balance and harmony where that is disturbed.
When we enter that relationship with a therapist, the illness, trauma, developmental delay etc. can be still unknown. It is in the dark, sometimes it is an experience that sits in our unconscious, sometimes in organs of which we are not aware. At other times it may have a name, a diagnosis, and we come to the question: what now?
The imbalance, that sometimes lives in the unconscious, in darkness, can disconnect us from our inner self, from our innate human life force. It can block a healthy development to continue. It can control us, limiting us from moving towards health.
Human nature is always looking for wholeness, balance and health. This innate impulse, innate Knowing, is what drives the child to achieve all its milestones of walking, speaking, thinking etc. Human development is what carries us towards health, if it is nurtured, witnessed and validated.
Human nature rings alarm bells when we lose track of wholeness.
Finding a name for that what lives in the darkness and is disturbing our wellbeing, what is in our unconscious, is often part of finding healing. Coming to a diagnosis, the naming and acknowledging of a trauma, and illness etc. often asks a lot of courage. We often need to let go of our control, be fully present in what may feel very uncomfortable, what is not integrated.
In a therapeutic relationship, we, the clients, explore the unknown in ourselves, so that parts can become more integrated. They can come a bit more out of the darkness and into the light so that normal human development can get back on track.
For this to happen it is vital that our process is being witnessed and reflected back. While we submerge ourselves in the unknown, let go of, and allow a medicine, substance, therapy to work on us, we need the conscious other, the therapist/doctor, to witness this process, hold a safe space, validate what is happening and reflect it back.
Only then can it become part of our organised, integrated individuality, only then can it come into the light, can our own individual Self take hold of the changes offered and meet it, make it it’s own.
The therapist needs to have courage to do that witnessing with an open and trusting mind. Without judgement, expectations, preconceived ideas, being fully present with the client, with utmost respect and love for the human being in his/her presence. The therapist needs to be brave to also be vulnerable. Vulnerable to meet and experience the unexpected, the uncomfortable, the chaos and pain. The ability of the therapist to be in that discomfort, without losing themselves or projecting themselves, will be experienced by the client and allows them to also go through it and find healing. Through the therapist’s own inner work can a relationship become a true therapeutic relationship, in which the witnessing in the moment is an art form that can bring light. Then both client and therapist can grow.
The therapists of Aurora are consciously working with the process of witnessing, validating and reflecting back, as a group, when they hold the case studies of one of their clients on a Thursday morning.
The therapeutic value of a group of people creating that safe space, with full respect and without judgement, is experienced by their clients time and time again.
contribution by Lut Hermans
Bringing the light to the dark.
A biodynamic osteopathic view by Debbie Ryan, biodynamic osteopath.
Every one of our cells carries a cellular ignition or spark, this light is the spark that drives our
neuro- immune and cellular function. This is the spark or ignition that charges your battery, and
gives you the up and get go. This spark and ignition is also fundamental to our self repair and
healing mechanisms, if the spark goes out, our body is in darkness, and unable to self repair
and function well. The founder of cranial osteopathy Dr William Sutherland spoke often of “the
Spark in the Motor”.
To the biodynamic osteopath this ignition or spark is seen and palpated during treatments and
assessments as light.
When someone’s ignition is depleted or absent, because of trauma (emotional or physical) or
medication (antibiotics, anesthetics etc), the light within fades or is absent, and on palpation the
body appears in darkness. The person themselves, will often say that they feel their spark has
gone, or other people may comment that the sparkle has gone out of their eyes.
The light and ignition is also linked to our connection to the Divine light or Source, biodynamic
osteopaths call this the Health. Without ignition switched on we can become aimless,
unmotivated and in some cases depressed; long term absence of light or ignition will lead to a
breakdown in self repair and autoimmune conditions can occur in some cases.
Osteopaths are able to flick the switch of ignition back on, reigniting the spark in the motor and
returning the light to the cells. During a treatment this will often feel like a warmth or pleasant
tingling, some people can feel or see their light returning.
Being in Nature, especially, in sunlight can be a natural way to boost ignition.
As biodynamic osteopaths we see the light and Wholeness of a person, as being in the Health,
connected to their Divine aspect and Source. Any darkness, are the lesions or strains within the
body, and these strains are unresolved and unable to return to the Health. In other words the
bodies functions are affected, on a cellular or more gross structural level, and these lesions are
preventing the body from communicating with the Whole or the Health.
The osteopath’s job with each patient is to allow the unresolved in the dark to return to the
Whole in the Light.
Dr Ava Ruth Baker shared these little poems with us. Although they are from a book of verses for children, they can fill adults alike with joy and hope.
Be like the bird
- by Victor Hugo
“Be like the bird, who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him;
Knowing he hath wings.”
-by Douglas Molloch
“Ah …that’s the reason
a bird can sing,
On the darkest day,
He believes in spring.”
Hakomi Therapy – Awakening to an awareness of self.
Hakomi is a body-centered mindfulness based approach to therapy.
Ron Kurtz, Founder of the Hakomi Method of Psychotherapy, once said:
“The implicit beliefs and relationship habits with which you meet the world automatically shape your present behaviour.”
Working one on one with a Hakomi therapist we create a safe environment to explore the internal world.
Mindfulness describes an awake attention to our present moment by moment experience. By paying attention to responses in the body, as well as thoughts and emotions we gain a holistic perspective of ourselves. Shining this light of compassionate awareness on our experience grants us more freedom in the way we behave and respond to life. This mindfulness practice strengthens our resilience to the challenges we face.
If you would like to explore more about mindfulness in this capacity to build resilience out of personal crisis, this is an excellent talk by Tara Brach a leading western teacher of Buddhist (mindfulness) meditation.
She is also the author of Radical Acceptance: Awakening the Love that Heals Fear and Shame Within Us (2003)
contributed by Janet Thomson
They encourage us be aware about the importance of ‘listening to the body.’
Anne and Margaret explained, our ‘bodymind” is formed from a complex interrelation of heredity together with a myriad of considerations of our personal physical, emotional, mental, environmental and spiritual history. This very personal and original history or biography is held as our ‘memory’. When an individual has been exposed to constant stress or experienced trauma, these memories are usually stored in areas of the body which have been literally ‘shut off’. These areas may be numb, resulting in a lack of sensitivity, or the response may be heightened or hypersensitive.
Tension in the body may mask sensations, the communication channel. Similarly, as stimuli become familiar, awareness of sensation diminishes. Pain also causes muscles to contract blocking the responsiveness of tissue, however it does provide a ‘shout’ and encourages awareness of areas in need of attention.
Our emotions also motivate and integrate the body. They are not a nuisance to be discharged. However if they are denied their proper physical expression this leads to a state of anxiety where the person also becomes desensitized with the unexpressed emotion trapped in the body and manifesting as physical sensations.
We may focus on a mind-related cause of physical distress as described in the principle of psychosomatic medicine, but rarely do we acknowledge that our depression, our stress, our anxieties ‘live in the body’.
Ian White ‘psychosomatic – Wellbeing, Issue 102
The Bowen technique works on Fascia in the body, which is a fibrous connective tissue which is distributed throughout the body. it’s made from dense bundles of collagen. It’s the main structural protein in the form of elongated fibrils (they are small hollow tubes which are filled with very fine fluid). Fascia looks rather like cling film, it surrounds muscles, organs, bones, nerves and blood vessels and prevents friction. Allowing different structures in the body to glide over each other on movement. Trauma and emotions may be held in the fascia.
Bowen work consists of a series of gentle rolling moves, over the connective tissue, A light touch is used and a majority of the moves can be done through clothing.
Clients normally feel deeply relaxed. This relaxation allows the body to begin healing. Aiding muscular tensions to release and a state of well-being to follow.
Bowen addresses many conditions and allows the body to re-pattern itself, to address physical, emotional and mental issues.
A safe, quiet, supportive atmosphere helps the child, adult or elderly client to connect to their inner body.
The Bowen practitioner is a facilitator of healing, using the Bowen moves to empower the body to heal itself.
Contribution by Marcia Pollock
Light and dark in physiology.
The unconscious man lay on the gurney struggling to breath and unresponsive to our requests to squeeze our hands or to wiggle his toes. His forced withdrawal from conscious life was profound. Among the many rapid and somewhat disrespectful interventions taking place in the trauma room such as cutting off his clothes, taking blood and inserting numerous tubes in various orifices I bent forward and gently lifted his partially closed eyelids and shone a light into his pupils. In that secret quiet instant I saw his left pupil large and unmoving, his right smaller and responding. He had blue eyes. He had wrinkles from smiling or laughing. He had a scar on his cheek.
When awareness is absent this bringing of light, to the organ for sensing light, is an important means of evaluating the human being’s state. The sluggish response and the unequal size of pupils in this man bespoke of neurological and neuro-endocrine disturbances. The brain was affected as was the autonomic nervous and respiratory system.
We are all likely aware that our pupils react to varying intensities of light by constricting or dilating, but in health our pupils not only respond to the light from outside us but also to things which might be seen in a way as light arising within. When we are interested in something, or someone, our pupils dilate. In fearful excitation they can constrict and in relaxation dilate. In children the pupil is much larger than in the adult and in death the pupils dilate and cease to react. Our relationship with light and dark, even at the starkly physical level of the eye as mechanism, is complex and involves both the inner and outer nature of the human.
As the cycle of the year moves out of the winter darkness into the light of spring, and we begin to feel that subtle surge of renewed energy and wellness, the illnesses of winter subside. Influenza is in fact “seasonal” flu. It arises with the onset of darkness and ends with the coming of the light of spring, even though the virus is widespread among a large population who have yet to contract the illness.
Many illnesses have patterns related to the cycles of light and dark in the yearly cycle as well as the day and night. Many fever illnesses are worse at night. Mothers and other caregivers were, in past times, more familiar with the sense of having passed through the dark of night when, in the morning light, the patient was renewed, the fever broken and healing begun. As this healing progressed the ill person would become able to eat; to take in substance from the world. Similarly, it would be a time for taking in again through the senses and the patient might be allowed to go outside for the first time. Often there can be a sense after illness that we feel better than we did before the illness. Something has come to us out of the darkness of illness.
Movement between dark and light is a basic rhythm of both the non-human and human worlds. Like other rhythms in our biology, the proper balance within the breathing from one polarity to another, is fundamental to our health.
Much of what we meet as “illness” seems to enter our lives as though emerging from some dark realm hitherto unknown to us. Symptoms arise as in opposition to us. In opposition to “ourselves”. Our lives seem to be interrupted by the illness. It does not seem to belong. We just want to get back to our lives, to ourselves. By “selves” and “our life” we usually mean the conscious and seemingly continuous and unbroken stream of awareness within which we identify our “I”. In fact this awareness is not continuous but is interrupted in many ways not least of which, by the daily giving up of consciousness that we call sleep.
Each morning we emerge from the darkness of unconsciousness into the day and take up again the tasks of doing, feeling, and thinking. In wellness, we feel refreshed and invigorated as though we had retrieved something from this other state.
Just as this sense of new energy arises as if by magic, the development of fatigue and the urge to seek refuge again in sleep is equally mysterious to us. Mysterious because the processes of physiology that underlie our waking experiences in the world, do not form part of that consciousness. They lie hidden in the organs, tissues, cellular and sub-cellular processes. We know them as objective information from chemistry, biochemistry, and physiological sciences but not as immediate experiences, as parts of ourselves. These inaccessible processes form the realm from which the symptoms of illness as well as the sense of wellness arise.
We thus carry with us even in our waking state another aspect which is unknown to our waking minds: A kind of darkness in contrast to the light of our aware state.
As we go through our day, the function of brain and senses, which are the stage upon which we enact our conscious lives, is founded on biochemical events which are of a breaking down nature. The various complex molecules formed in the depths of our subconscious metabolism are broken down again into relatively simple molecules releasing “energy” to drive the processes of muscle and nerve activity. Our awareness and activity as sentient beings rests on a kind of destruction of the fruits of our living processes. To repair and replenish these we must give up our knowing and fall back into the dark of slumber. This cessation of the catabolic/destructive physiology allows the anabolic or constructive to return us to readiness to awaken.
In the world around us we are surrounded by, and in a way immersed in, the sea of the plant world. Receiving light raying down upon the earth the plants give rise to the combination of carbon and water that we call carbohydrates. Photosynthesis takes place through a series of reactions some of which require light and others which do not. The light and the dark reactions combine to complete the production of the substance which assumes form and becomes the plant. Literally woven from water and air using light, this forms the basis of all living substances on earth.
Within the human being the production in anabolic metabolism of complex molecules is similar to the activity of the plants and like the plants occurs without consciousness. In the human, light is captured in different forms. In the sub-cellular ATP with its phosphorus, providing energy for the innumerable biochemical reactions, in the spark of iron in the oxygen bearing haemoglobin, in the steroid hormones which work at the boundary between the merely living and the sentient experiencing, being especially the vitamin D aspect of these, and in the hexagonal crystals of the hexoses, providing the primary energy for brain and nerve.
Although each of these and the many other examples that could be given represent in a certain sense the capturing of light energy, in terms of our consciousness, these are the dark processes. Only the breaking down of these light-containing substances, gives rise to the “light” of consciousness.
In many illnesses access by our conscious selves to the processes giving light to our earthly enacting being, is hampered. Fatigue, weakness, lack of endurance, and depression can result. Conversely greater awareness of processes more rightly belonging to the realm of the dark, can give rise to symptoms of nausea, pain or angst.
In discerning where the disruption occurs one can intervene to restore or enhance lost connections, or establish altogether new ones. Sometimes this is achieved with substances administered through the metabolism, blood or sensory systems, but intervention can come also directly through the fully illuminated aspect of the senses and experiences, to affect a change at other levels, through artistic, movement or psycho-therapeutic therapies.
As therapists we can seek, in various ways, to restore the balance between the dark and light and return the gargoyles to their rightful places in the shadows and to unveil the colored glass through which the light of soul can shine into the lives of our clients.
Contribution by Dr William Crawford
Light and Dark and Colour
Art therapists work very closely with the polar forces in the soul of light and darkness. There is a constant movement between these forces, and it requires a strong and healthy ego to strive for balance between them. In the world of our senses, through the outer world, we see colours arise out of the struggle between these poles of light and darkness. So too within the soul, colour is manifest within our emotional life. Just as thoughts arise as a product of thinking, so colours arise in the soul as an image of our emotions. By consciously working with colour as a therapeutic methodology, healing life-processes within the body and psyche can be strengthened.
If we have ever been in a totally dark room with absolutely no light whatsoever we feel a collapse of space as we know it. We don’t experience distance or the separation of things. Everything seems gathered into oneness. Even our sense of our own physical body can vanish. What we can experience though, is our soul or psyche seemingly suspended in this darkness without a physical body. We only experience our physical body if we move or are in pain, or perhaps a gentle sensation of our body breathing. So in many ways darkness makes us experience our inwardness, our inner-space, very intensely.
But being exposed to a saturation of light can be ‘blinding’ and overwhelming, where under certain conditions, the organ of light itself, our eye, can be destroyed. With strong light we are intensely aware of our physical body. It is through light that things come into form, such as in plant growth. In our soul, an overabundance of light can produce a hardening effect. We see this when the intellect dominates and overshadows all other soul qualities.
The light and dark we experience through our senses are the direct correlates of light and dark processes within the human soul. In the act of thinking, we are involved in a light-forming process – we even use the term ‘in the light of thought.’ However, if balance is lost between the two poles of light and dark, we
can lose all meaning in life, or become deeply depressed. It can be a similar experience to being in that dark room, where everything falls away and we are left facing an inner abyss, where our relationship to the world loses its meaning. This is known as ‘the dark night of the soul.’ But it is often the case that one can emerge out of this darkness with a heightened consciousness that is ‘en-lightened,’ where new insights arise in the soul, and the meaning of life is renewed, but with greater richness and depth. Such transformation is often facilitated through therapeutic processes using interventions through colour exercises.
So the act of forming and dissolving, or making conscious and transforming, have a great deal to do with the interaction of light and dark processes and the interweaving and arising movements of colour that arise between these two poles.
It is interesting to observe in an art therapy process, what happens when a very dark colour is introduced after other colours have been painted. The lighter colours become brighter and more dynamic. A greater intensity is brought to the picture. So, in many ways darkness is not passive. It contains an energy that
provokes movement. The quality of that movement is of great interest to art therapists who know that darkness is not an absence of light, but a dynamic phenomenon that, with light, allow colour to arise as agents that can restore balance and healing in the soul.
All colours, to a greater or lesser proportion, carry light and darkness within them. Yellow for example has a completely different quality to violet, and it is this interplay and qualitative difference that may determine or guide a therapeutic approach. Some colours create a sensation of expanding outward from a centre while others seem as if they move from a periphery towards a centre. This expanding and contracting, warming or cooling, creates movement within the soul, where insight can arise, feelings evolve, or perhaps facilitate a healthy relationship between the life-processes in the human body and the forces of the psyche.
Colours are the language of the soul! Yes, this is a cliché perhaps, yet none-the-less it is true. Many artists and art therapists have witnessed the extraordinary power of colour and its relationship to the human psyche and physiognomy. It is a path that can lead from darkness into light or conversely moderate light through the palliative qualities of darkness.
Aurora Collective Incorporated
Charitable status registration number: CC54753
It is now about 14 years ago that the first idea of giving the therapeutic work in this area a stronger ground to stand on, arose. In that time the group, what is now called Aurora Collective, has gone through quite a few changes and metamorphosis. We have had a lot of help along the way from many people. All have given us freely from their time and wisdom, from their own experiences and expertise. We have been blessed with lots and lots of advice, support, a good conversation in times of crisis, a point to a direction where to look for answers to our questions and much and much more.
Just like we as therapists get together as a group to hold a client’s questions in our minds, so do we feel there is a group of people who have held our questions in their minds and hearts. And that has allowed us to make all the steps we have made in the last 14 years.
And now we can celebrate another milestone along that continuum: we have become an incorporated society and have been granted charitable status in the last half year. Although that process has not always been easy, and it means jumping through some hoops and writing (some boring and tedious) documents we never thought we would write, it has also meant we have had to think deeply and clearly about what our task is, what does the Aurora Collective do, beyond what all the individual members do? Why do we exist? What do we have to offer?
The main reason for going though this process, is so that we now can start the Aurora Charitable Fund, to support those people who find it hard to have access to the therapies on offer through the Aurora members. When this Fund grows, it will also allow us to reach out to groups in the community with high needs and low resources. It will allow us to meet families in crisis and in need of intense and multiple support.
Because through all those outer changes and forms Aurora has had over the last 14 years, the one constant, the “why do we exist” has always been: the need of the individual client, and their questions, around which we come together in freedom, to hold them, to bear witness.
LIBRARY OF ASD BOOKS
ASK Trust (a charitable trust for and by ASD adults) has a large library of ASD books (over 500 titles), which can be borrowed by post (or in person by special arrangement, as they’re based on Kapiti Coast). The catalogue can be viewed on their website www.asknz.net , and items borrowed by emailing your request to email@example.com. The current cost to borrow is $5 per book, or $30 annually for unlimited number of books (max. two at a time) – plus postage if applicable.
GET IN TOUCH
If you want to get in touch with any of the Aurora Therapists, please visit our website: www.auroracollective.nz. You will find all contact details, descriptions of the different therapies and biographies of the therapists there. You can also contact us there via the ‘contact us’ page.
For questions and suggestions for contributions to the upcoming newsletters, you can also email Lut Hermans on firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUBSCRIBE / UNSUBSCRIBE
If you want to subscribe to this newsletter, or you no longer wish to receive it, please send a little message to: email@example.com
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you think might be interested.
Please feel free to use the Aurora newsletter to share your stories, ideas, articles etc. There are now about 100 people on our mailing list, and many more are reached through people sharing it.
We are looking forward to announcing the Aurora Fund in our next issue, when we have jumped through all the hoops and formalities with IRD, the bank etc.