Opening my very first Art and Healing circle, I feel excited and vulnerable. Reminding myself to breathe, I ground and relax. I know that whoever comes will be just right.  This is my first time facilitating something like this, and I feel well-supported by Diana’s coaching earlier in the week and by my inner guidance to share how creative expression is a life-line for me in my own healing journey.

We begin a few minutes after 10 with four women—two of whom I already know and two of whom I’ve only met briefly before. I share my excitement and vulnerability. I share the circle agreements, and we each affirm our accord.  I share a bit about myself and then ask each woman to share whatever parts of her story feel right to her in this moment, along with her feelings and hopes for our time together. Focusing on the battery-operated candle whose battery is out of juice, we imagine it alight and take a few moments of silence to listen within.

Out of these reflections, the women share what’s moving in them, and I’m touched by everyone’s willingness to open and trust in the newly forming group:

  • I collect art supplies but then they sit unused.
  • It’s difficult to build the habit.
  • There’s risk in committing myself to paper.
  • I want to recapture my sense of child’s play.
  • I want to support my own healing.
  • I want to be fixed by others.
  • I’m unwilling to take the mainstream medical view of my condition and Healing Circles Langley is opening me to broader healing modalities.
  • It’s hard to write because someone else may see it.
  • I value the group support.
  • I’m in a phase of letting go of stuff in my life.

I share my very first embellished journal—full of its hopes and fears and tender creative opening. They begin to share their fears about expressing themselves, and I witness my own—the pernicious beliefs that I’m not enough, not good enough, don’t know how to do this “right.” As I listen and re-ground myself, I begin to feel the wave of fear receding—in me and in the group. I reflect their courage and curiosity back to them, and transition to a short demo of the basic painting techniques. As we face the blank pages of our journals, we are practicing for facing the blank pages of our lives—this is the metaphor and the healing offering of our work today. And so we jump in to embellish our journals!

For 45 minutes, we all paint very happily—there’s a lively, explorative energy in the room. Then, we shift gears to the collage techniques—and again, everyone jumps right in. The time flies by, and at noon, I call for transition to closing.  The excitement and sense of accomplishment are palpable. Everyone expresses relief, pleasure, surprise at the ease of it—and mutual appreciation flows.  Closing thoughts:

  • Pleasure and play.
  • “I didn’t know I could do it.”
  • Excited to be doing something they’d been wanting to do.
  • Sense of new possibilities.
  • “I didn’t know it was going to be like this—it was so wonderful.”
  • Reconnecting with creative expressions happily remembered from childhood.

Four women came today with fears, self-judgments, yearning, courage, vulnerability and curiosity; four women left with excitement, accomplishment, beginning to reframe from “perform” to “practice,” and journals sprouting with paint, collage, pleasure and possibility. My heart felt aligned with my intention to be of service.  We all felt the gift of being held by Healing Circles Langley.

The dead-battery candle now radiates an orange-tissue-paper flame. Today, we created light.


Header image by David Welton