Gestalt - A Simple Shelter On The Side Of A Hill
Some years back when I was testing the water to find out what Gestalt might be (I’d heard it was a creative form of psychotherapy but the word itself sounded rather heady and inaccessible), wondering about committing to a further four years of training, I went on a Gestalt Basics weekend.
Through one of the imaginative explorations there, I found a memory of my travels in India. I remembered seeing, in the midst of the beautifully forested National Park at Periyar, a simple shelter, in the distance, on the side of a hill overlooking the lake. In the space of the ‘Basics’ weekend I contemplated and drew and wondered. And now when I bring that image to mind I experience a settling physical sense of ‘this is what Gestalt is about’.
The word ‘Gestalt’ means loosely, ‘pattern’ – and ‘a simple shelter on the side of a hill’ is where we can have a little space to view the pattern of our lives, or some part of our life. It is a place to find perspective and support.
In the same way that my weekend on Gestalt Basics provided me with this gateway vision of a simple shelter, so also the course of my training, alongside four years with my own Gestalt therapist, gave me space for discovery, awareness, possibility, creativity, support, healing.
Attention to our natural rhythm and giving respect to who we are and where we are, here and now, are the basis for all healing and creative departure. Gestalt focuses on our here and now experience and on our whole being – mind and body.
Our bodies are the ground in which we integrate and contain our experience, ‘good’ and ‘bad’. An ‘embodied’ focus not only makes available a lively engagement with our environment, but also a greater capacity for being at ease with our ability to reject what is bitter or disturbing.
In being more able to engage, or disengage, and respond - in our attention to sensing, feeling, being - we offer more fruit to our mind’s capacity to translate that experience in a meaningful way.
In giving attention to the reality of our present moment, our awareness of what is happening now, we are able to discover our patterns of experience, expectation and response – physical and emotional. So in the here and now we may find, in some way, a different view, a different sense.
In Gestalt, whatever we choose to bring of our being and dreaming - to heal, unlock, keep safe, explore - is rich material to be nurtured in the here and now.
And so for me, what ‘Gestalt’ means, is a space, something like to a simple shelter on the side of a hill.
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