Yesterday I was chatting with a friend about our respective counseling and art therapy practices. She said that her supervisor had suggested she write a blog, beginning with the prompt: If you had the world's attention for thirty minutes, what message would you share?
It's a thrillingly big and shiny question, evoking the ultimate soapbox - the TED talk. I began to riff on it, speaking to the first thing that came to mind: Trust in the process.
I first named that the phrase feels like a cliché, but I stayed with it. In all my years of engaging in therapies and creative practices, I feel that one of the skills I have most developed is that of trusting the process. In the space of the unknown, when fear is present, it takes courage to stay with what is showing up. And when things are difficult and painful, it's particularly challenging to trust in what is unfolding. There are some qualities or attitudes that can support this trust.
I remember many years ago shifting from a cognitively-based therapist to a somatically-based practitioner. In each session, this skilled and wise practitioner would invite me to pay attention to my body, to notice where in my body I experienced sensations, to stay with them and to name them. I noticed that many layers of experiencing unfolded from that simple awareness and noticing. I came to learn to trust the wisdom of my body in its healing process.
As an artist too, I was able to deepen into the wisdom of emergence in my 'mandala a day' practice. In showing up to the blank page every day, I was invited to trust... To trust the impulse to pick up pencil, pen, or watercolour paint. To trust the impulse to make the marks bold or light. To trust the impulse to hold an exhibition, a weekend long space at a festival, to create a set of oracle cards. Every time I meet the blank page, the dance floor, the instrument, I meet the unknown and I trust. I trust myself to find that next step, mark, or note. I trust myself to listen to the impulse.
For me, trust in the process is supported by a few qualities:
First, trusting in the process involves curiosity. Curiosity is a wonderful state of alert and open attention to what is and what will be. It's deeply connected to creativity. Curiosity may carry a tinge of wonder, inquisitiveness, or playfulness. Curiosity can sit alongside fear as we step into the unknown. Simply asking ourselves, 'I wonder what would happen if...', or 'I'm curious to hear/learn more about...' can assist us in creating this open awareness. Curiosity is non-judgemental and non-critical. It is also connected to problem solving and innovation.
Second, trusting in the process is supported by our willingness to pay attention and to name what is happening. Noticing and naming are some of the core skills of mindfulness. Over many years I've developed a capacity for deeper listening to myself. I notice the signals of my body, paying attention to the flashes of image or phrases that show up. If I stay with what is happening, noticing and naming, I'm in the flow, alive to the moment. Even stuckness can be attended to with this trust. If I am able to attend to my lived experience in the moment, present to myself, this attunement can be deeply healing.
Third, trusting in the process is supported by our flexibility and capacity to respond to what is. When we're curious, and able to notice and name what we are experiencing, we are then able to adapt and pivot as needed. We meet transitions and change with dexterity and resilience. We find our stuckness might be an invitation to rest, to tend to the soil of our being. Our mistakes may lead us down new and unexpected paths. Our failures are opportunities to grow and shift direction.
Ultimately, trusting in the process is trusting in ourselves. And trusting in that 'something bigger', the mystery in which we all live and breath and dance. Trusting the process is about deepening our connection to ourselves and our place in the world. We listen to the signals of our bodies, and receive the mirroring of our beloveds and the world around us. We stay present to ourselves, committed to our emergence. Our tiny seed impulses are able to grow into mighty trees.
How is your relationship with trust? What supports you to trust in the process?
Images below from 'The Creative Soul Mandala Oracle': Emergence and Trust.
Chelle is a practicing art therapist, researcher, and multi-modal creative. She regularly dives into the unknown to discover what is ready to be born, deepening her trust in the abundantly creative source. For Chelle, art is a means to inquire, express, and transform. If offers the capacity to soothe, making space for new perspectives and ways of being.