Healing is Rethinking Old Narratives; and a form of Activism
Read along for an experiment with me.
Let's use the imagination to see your body in a creative way. You know what you look like from the outside. Now imagine that you can see inside your body and let's pretend that inside is all darkness and space, that you can see your body as hollow. What if the hollow of your body was a cave? A long meandering cavern, with all the crooks and crevices of your fingers, your ankles, the arcs of your hips. What if it was peaty, and you could taste the minerals in your mouth and feel the dark cool cave air on your arms and feel the dirt under your feet, the quiet stillness all around you? Imagine a small thumb-sized hologram of yourself, lantern in hand, meandering through your caves. Hear water trickling, feel the heat of the lantern as the tiny-you travels through your body. Imagine the hands of the hologram brushing against the caves walls, bringing warmth and light to the inside of the shell of you, like matchstrike, your fingers leaving traces of orange glow along the walls.
Can you feel it? Does your body feel somehow different?
What got me interested in Chinese Medicine was anxiety, and specifically, anxiety as physiological and psychological pain brought about by the imagination. In my twenties, I was working in the arts in New York as a studio assistant to various artists including a man I adored who was living with advanced AIDS. I could all too easily imagine his sudden death, or a sudden illness or a devastating accident happening to anyone I loved—and instantly, the dread took over my entire body like a quick infection. Worries sped through my mind, a bristling tension fevered into my muscles, and panic sharpened against my heart. I’d felt this feeling my entire life, and I was creating it with my thoughts.
My therapist at the time reminded me patiently that worry is the misuse of the imagination. What, I wondered, is a better use of the imagination for the body? The artist I worked for at the time, Frank Moore, gave me many ideas through his body of work.
In my thirties, I’ve come to understand that my mental state greatly affects my physiological one. Get on a downward spiral of thinking, sinking into negativity and doom, and I can bet that my neck will tighten, my blood pressure rise, my heart feel leaded and my hip go out. Certainly, anxiety isn’t the only reason for these issues, but I’ve known it to be both a contributing factor and a causative spark.
If our imaginations can make us feel so sick and negative, then what if we repurposed them, used them to serve us: to help us feel safe and calm and embodied?
I’m passionate about helping people revise their imaginations to be of salutary use. When you come in for a session, I offer you a creative visualization, tailor-made to fit your health and our work together. Whether or not I speak the words aloud, creative imagery informs the way I work with your body. I believe in engaging the imagination as a form of radical creative activism. This is a profound revision of self, a shucking of the old narratives that hold us stuck in discomfort. Re-thinking and re-imagining is way to create a place in your own body that is immediately safe. A design that gifts you in the moment your body as your refuge.