Heart of the Matter

What possibility for healing lies within the patient/health practitioner relationship beyond the blood pressure cuff, the skimpy gown and the cardiogram? 

 

Heart of the Matter: Healing Arts and Anthroposophy

Fiona Gold, Robyn Jones and Mary Oak

 

An early afternoon in October, fourteen of us are gathered in a circle in a classroom, grinning somewhat sheepishly because we are having so much fun.  We are learning the art of healing storytelling.  Enlivened and somewhat flushed, we are co-creating a tale of a flying ship, based on a Russian fairy tale, filled with heroic sailors rushing to heal a land of despondent people.  If only it was so easy!  After the weekend workshop (the first of eight) we will return to our work as nurses, massage practitioners, physicians, healers, and therapists a little wiser to the creative flow of the imagination and how it can be devoted to healing images and story dynamics.  We head home with a quiet connection to the inner world, knowing we have touched upon a nourishing life-giving source.

 

Nancy Mellon's Healing Storytelling was the first weekend of a series of modules called The Heart of the Matter: Healing Arts and Anthroposophy, held by Sound Circle Center in Seattle.  For many years Sound Circle has provided a Foundation Year course for those exploring anthroposophy and the Waldorf Teacher Training program.  This year the idea was generated to provide a similar course whereby healthcare practitioners and therapists might find reprieve from burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization.  By providing opportunities for nourishment and self-transformation through the creative arts, the study of anthroposophy and meditation exercises, could we develop our capacity to truly meet each another, regardless of the roles we fill as healthcare practitioners or patients?

 

This month, having been guided in opening to and sharing intuitive stories by a master of healing story, Nancy Mellon, we found ways to enter into deep listening.  We discovered how, by opening intuitively to a story that arises out of empathy, we can connect deeply with one another.

 

The deep listening that is essential to understanding the dynamic, moving processes of health and illness can be practiced in creating and sharing stories.  A similar attentiveness is inherent in any of the artistic processes that will be offered in the monthly workshops to come, from clay sculpting, to painting and movement.  Art offers a means to be receptive in order to dynamically bring inspiration into expression.  A wonderful training ground for health care reform!

 

The ear with its complex and sensitive spiraling reminds us that listening itself is a deep process.  This listening is key for us as we move away from the traditional “knowledge transfer” in the classroom.  In our various trainings as health practitioners we learned the skills and techniques together with anatomy and physiology.  In most of our trainings, self-development was left up to us and rarely touched upon.  In the Heart of the Matter program, we wonder, can we reverse this order?  Out of our soul searching, can we understand the human being in a different way?  Can we learn skills and techniques which honor our soul journey and that of the person we are working with?

 

Our Heart of the Matter faculty has grown to eight people, all involved in healing.  We have created a series of weekend workshops (which can be taken individually but work together as a whole) where we are open to exploring new lands together with participants, as fellow sojourners.  It has been tempting to create a set curriculum from the get-go, but we have managed to honor the flexibility of moving with what will emerge from our unique synergy and heart-centered attentiveness.

 

The curve of the ear is similar to a question mark.  As the course continues we carry a number of queries:  Through observation and reflection can we enlighten our work with patients, clients, and colleagues, and begin to transform how we practice?  How do we encounter one another?  How do we truly listen?  What is healing?  What possibility for healing lies within the patient/health practitioner relationship beyond the blood pressure cuff, the skimpy gown and the cardiogram?  What are the soul-struggles of health-care practitioners?  Stepping into real healing work asks that we be courageous and honest, observant and vigilant.  It asks that we know ourselves as well as our professional scope of practice.

 

We have embarked upon the journey of this course, which from our early planning sessions has been cast in the metaphor of a sea voyage.  We eagerly await the next harbors and look forward to meeting future companions and sharing what we find with others engaged in healing work, which the world is in such need of in our time.

 

The jewel has been lost in matter

and everybody is looking for it.

Some look for it in the east

and some in the west,

some in water

and some among stones.

But the servant Kabir

has found its value

and has it wrapped with care

in the seam of the mantle of his heart.

—Rabindranath Tagore

 

Art credit: Sommer Whitmarsh

 

For more information about weekend themes and teachers, or to register, please see: http://www.soundcircle.org/content/healing-arts-and-anthroposophy

 



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