by Laura Bailey, Student at Southwestern College
There’s nowhere in the world quite like Southwestern College; that’s just scientific fact. The students who attend Southwestern are striving for authenticity and conscious transformation, and the faculty and staff of this institution are striving even harder to ignite and foster that experience. Speaking from the younger end of the student age spectrum, I know it to be true that Southwestern College is the advanced placement track to maturity and self-awareness. That being the case, we as students often feel inspired and compelled to jump right in to our “stuff.” To accelerate our own healing processes because, well, we can’t enter into a helping profession if we’re still broken, right?
The concept of safety has been coming up a lot lately in my art therapy courses: how to foster safety for clients so that they feel secure in sharing their stories and their feelings, how to hold a safe space for our classmates and clients and peers and loved ones to have the experience that’s natural for them. A couple of weeks ago, I created an art piece in one of these art therapy courses around my relationship with fear. The piece- and the experience of making it- struck me in a really huge sort of nauseatingly intense way. I left class that day feeling raw, exposed, and obligated to figure it all out: why was I feeling triggered in this way? What unresolved issues was I butting up against? How had I not been conscious of this apparently intense issue I have around safety? Had I been asleep all this time? Was I doing this whole Southwestern thing wrong?
I stowed the art piece in the trunk of my car and drove home after class, the bumps along Agua Fria syncopating my insecurities. I thought, “I really must do some journaling about the piece when I get home… and perhaps a chakra meditation to work through the energetic roots of the safety issue in my body…”
Fifteen minutes later I found myself peering into the open trunk, looking at the art piece, holding back vomit.
I closed the trunk, art still stowed, and walked away.
It just wasn’t time.
Sure, I could have forced myself to look at it, to sit with it, to figure it all out. But the truth was, I needed lunch. I needed a nap. I needed yoga. I needed my brainpower for other things that day. I needed to close the trunk and walk away.
Since that day, the trunk has become my safe container: the place where I can store all the stuff I’m not ready to jump into just yet. When I’m ready, I’ll know. Southwestern has taught me to trust myself that way. But until then, I trust the trunk to hold my art, my secrets, and my fear.
— Laura Bailey
Forrest Yoga Teacher
Southwestern College, MA Art Therapy Candidate
“Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.” -Henry David Thoreau