Last year I attended a PhotoTherapy Workshop in Vancouver, B.C. with Judy Weiser. Given my background as a therapist and a photographer, I was thrilled to see how my two passions could benefit my clients in a more powerful way.
What is phototherapy, you might ask?
Judy Weiser is passionate about it not being a modality, but a “set of tools to create a bridge to communicate thoughts, feelings, beliefs, expectations, values, assumptions” and the like. You know, the stuff that makes the world go ‘round.
On the first day of the workshop, Judy asked us to select a photo from 117 photocopied photographs laid out on the tables. Through the experiential use of the photo we chose, we came to understand a key tool of phototherapy: photo-projection. Photo-projection is the process of identifying and understanding the meaning we attribute to an image.
What came up for me?
The image I chose was of a woman running naked in an open field. To me, this photo symbolized both freedom and escape. When I picked up this particular photo, I thought I had picked up something that represented the past. I thought I was beyond all that.
One of the key takeaways of the day was the impact of becoming more aware of the meaning we assign to an image. This allows us to then raise our awareness of the meaning we assign to other moments in life. After all, an image is a moment frozen in time.
With the use of the photo-projective tool, I realized that the pursuit of freedom and the need to escape are often intertwined for many of us. From an existential point of view, it’s one of life’s greatest dilemmas we face. Ways to escape can include all kinds of behaviors and one of the ways I escape is to stay busy.
How many of you do this too?
This is just one example of how phototherapy teaches us that increased awareness of the meaning we make provides insight into how we react. When we become conscious of the contributing factors of our reactions, we are then presented with the choice to either continue reacting in the same way or to change our course. The choice is now ours.
In the end, this left me with a big question, “If I wasn’t busy, then what would I be? What would “not busy” look like?”
Sometimes, we can lose sight of things like this. However, by using photography to illuminate how we want our lives to be, we can then create our lives more intentionally.
With this in mind, when it came time to go home I could have just jumped in the car to head back first thing in the morning. Instead, I decided to take a 6-mile walk in Stanley Park in Vancouver and take photographs exploring what it feels like to let go of being busy. In reality, changing our patterns to create the life we want is not something that will just happen on its own. It requires active effort and photography can be a great tool for this. So, why not use it?
So, now it’s your turn.
Do you find yourself escaping through being busy? If so, let’s take this on together: What would “not busy” look like to you?
If you are up for it, share your photos with me on Instagram with #notbusy2017 and encourage others to share theirs too. Together we can inspire each other to take our time, be present, and let go of being busy even if for just a moment. One moment is enough for us to see it’s possible. Seeing something is possible can give us hope.
Perhaps this is the key to empowerment.