(Images of Mexican Trees of life)
Another amazing and transformational Body Mapping weekend in Mexico City! I’m hoping that the owners of the maps give their permission for me to share some pictures soon. I travelled there over Easter and collaborated with a friend and colleague who is a Play Therapist and has a studio next to her house and had the privilege of working with a group of 6 wonderful people of all ages. Her house and studio is set in beautiful gardens on a high hill on the outskirts of the city, almost in the countryside and is surrounded by orange trees, bougainvillea, and cacti – a really beautiful spot for a retreat. My friend translated Spanish to English and vice versa, and did a magnificent job, given the subtleties and personal nature of the words. She and her husband also cooked up delicious and wholesome vegetarian food for each meal time.
Being in Mexico – Frida Kahlo’s presence is everywhere and I can’t help making links between her self portraits and Body Mapping portraits. She didn’t paint about other people, she painted about her own embodied experience; about what physically happened to her body, about how she felt, who she loved, where she physically came from, and she captured herself in her vulnerability as well as in strength. I love the portrait where she sits in a suit like that of her lover, Diego, she adopts his posture, wide and open and easy. Was this a way of being she envied ? Or a way of being she wished to bring into her life? Did her art helped her to transform her experience and to give voice to her longings?
In Body Mapping, we allow space and time for taking our gaze from the outside world to our inside world, our felt sense and the embodied stories that we live each day. I help people to do this through slowing down, taking time to become aware of our body, perhaps becoming still, closing our eyes, attending to our inner sensations and impulses. Gradually our mind’s eye and imagination come together so that we notice colours, shapes and images. By bringing these alive with art materials, we begin the creative process. These images can become potent symbols for growth and transformation.
By returning to the body we can perceive our sensual desires for perhaps, more movement, or more rest, the desire to be in nature more, or perhaps water, to dance or to meditate, to be in or around a different kind of energy, to pursue a creative outlet or perhaps to fulfil some kind of sensual need that is not being met. Sometimes it may reveal something as simple the need to breathe with more presence, awareness and space, or the need to have more empathy for ourselves. These simple, natural, bodily desires can be so fundamental to our well being and we may find that they give us what we need rather than what we ‘think’ we want.
I researched contemporary Mexican authors before I went and began reading ‘Sidewalks’ by Valeria Luiselli. It’ a beautiful book where she muses on many things as she wanders through Mexico City. She speaks about maps and how they work on the imagination :
“maps don’t impose any limitations on the person studying them. Only on a static timeless surface can the mind roam freely”
This is the power of the map!