Physis - a natural life force that helps us towards health and well-being
I stumbled across this recently: a little plant growing by the side of a step on a pavement. Surprised, I looked around for a hanging basket or perhaps a pot but there was nothing... no other vegetation, only pavement, steps and house-fronts. I came to the conclusion that it had embedded itself there quite accidental... starting as a seed with enough soil and water to survive and even bloom in this unexpected place.
It was tiny and I was walking at some pace so I could have easily missed it. In fact, I had walked past it when my brain registered its presence and I walked back to it to get a close look at it and take the photo. It had captured my interest and on reflecting on this afterwards, I realised that I was touched by what the view meant to me.
This little plant was growing and blooming in the most foreign of surroundings, amongst concrete, rock and bricks. Hardly the nurturing and richness of a moist compost filled pot! Yet, it had survived, grown there and developed into a cascade of white flowers. To me, it represented something important: a symbol of strength, resilience and vitality and the manifestation of the natural force of life called Physis.
A Greek word, Physis refers to an innate motivation towards growth found in all living organisms, including human beings. It occurred to me that, had someone wanted the little plant to grow there, it would have been a struggle to "make" it implant itself at the corner of the step and grow. Instead, the seed germinated, the plant grew and turned to flower because it was able to take whatever it needed from its environment and become the beautiful bloom that it could be.
Counselling/ psychotherapy is about fostering the manifestation of Physis in clients. It seems to me that this is effectively achieved less by interventions that are directly focused on change and more by providing an environment and therapeutic relationship where clients can feel understood and accepted for who they are. It is then that their innate desire to grow and their own thrust towards health and well-being can be stimulated. It is then that they can strive to be fully themselves.
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