A Healing Journey: Part Three - The Object In Hand

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A HEALING JOURNEY Part Three: The Object In Hand by Louise Oliver

Art and Alignment A Healing Journey Part Three: The Object in Hand by Louise Oliver Copyright Š Louise Oliver All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the author nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published. louise@sapphirelight.net


Art and Alignment explores art and creativity in relation to healing and the soul journey. It looks at the importance of strengthening our connection to intuition and engaging with creativity and imagination. Creative activity, when aligned with higher awareness, can bring the messages of the soul into physical expression and become a powerful force for healing and transformation. In nurturing our innate creative ability, we can experience a spiritual awakening and a soul calling, which allows us to begin a personal healing process as a result of developing our own unique gifts.

Louise Oliver trained in metaphysics and holistic therapies with the Academy of Spiritual Sciences, founded by Carol Lamb.

Louise graduated in Fine Art and has many years

experience as a visual artist, writer, theatre practitioner and workshop leader. Her story is told in the Art and Alignment series ‘A Healing Journey’ – which includes ‘Restoring the Flow’, ‘Mapping Soul Memories’ and ‘The Object In Hand’.

A Healing Journey reveals how

creative work and energy alignment have played a part in her recovery from a life-threatening illness and major surgery.

For more information visit The Emerald Alignment

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso


Louise Oliver ‘A Healing Journey’ documents some of the various ways that art and creativity has helped me to uncover memories and to assist in my recovery from life-threatening illness.

There are three sections to the story: Restoring the Flow Mapping Soul Memories The Object In Hand


“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” Carl Jung

1. Holding On and Letting Go

When my first son was born, I remember him clutching onto my finger with his tiny hand. I was struck by how he held on so fiercely and I felt the power of the life force in his grasp. A midwife visiting me at home said that if I were to hold my newborn son up and let him grab hold of the washing-line, he’d cling on with those small hands and not let go. She said that he’d dangle there but, needless to say, I didn’t put it to the test! I vividly remember the beauty of his deep blue eyes and the way he looked me straight in the eye the moment I first held him. When he was older, my elder son would come to test me to the limit of my endurance. As a teenager, he started taking drugs and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His eyes became clouded and after years of trauma and stress, I became seriously ill myself. On Valentine’s Day 2013, I underwent a major operation to remove a massive tumour from my chest cavity. I had been told that I may not survive the surgery and I could feel the concern of the medical team, who gathered around the bed. In intensive care, a nurse kept sitting beside me and telling me that I must cough to clear my lungs. My weedy attempts brought up blood and the effort was excruciatingly painful. For a few days I seemed to be hovering somewhere far away and then, with a sensation almost like an electric shock, I felt a sudden rush of the desire and the will to live. I can remember the moment when that surge of the life force kicked back in. I was moved to a regular ward and two women next to me were talking. One said that she’d had a tumour removed that was the size of a tangerine. The other replied that hers had been the size of a grapefruit. I could have added that mine had been the size of a melon but chose not to enter this strange fruit contest! I knew that the tumour had been the weight of a newborn baby and understood that I had somehow created a replacement ‘child’ within my chest cavity. When I came home I felt elated, full of wonder at being alive and aware of all sorts of minute details. As I began to recover, I was appreciative of simple things, such as being able to step in and out of the bath or to climb stairs and still be able to breathe. However, I knew that I had a long haul ahead of me. I had to really believe that I was worthy of being saved, find out what changes I needed to make to prevent the tumour re-occurring and then actually make the changes! I needed to develop an eye to observe the energy of the life force and to perceive what kept it flowing. I had to feel what blocked it and caused it to stagnate. My therapist, Carol Lamb recommended that I make things with my hands and I had an urge to work with textiles. I didn’t have much energy but I could sit in a chair and stitch. It helped to ground me and to stop me thinking too much.

One day I had an impulse to walk to the bottom of the hill and catch a bus to the next town. I saw a craft shop and by the door I found an old-fashioned knitting ‘dolly’. I remembered these from childhood and realising that this was what I must have come for, I took up French Knitting! I had previously explored a past life as a Huguenot, in which I’d experienced persecution and disconnection and where it had been necessary to maintain silence to survive. It was a life where I‘d had an affinity with textiles and working with threads now helped me to release those negative imprints and connect to strengths and to creative flow. I found that, through making imagery and objects, I was able to observe the life force at work. I began to gather yarns to make samples and I found it healing to handle them. The sensation of the textures of materials in my hands seemed to work a kind of magic. The activity bypassed thoughts and words. I trusted the process and worked intuitively, so that energy flowed to the heart and expressed itself through my fingers. It grounded me, as I was bringing emotions into tangible form. It helped to release negative imprints from my energy field. I was mending memories, gathering threads to guide me out of the depths and starting to weave a new narrative for myself. Knitting and stitching provided a safe inner space to explore and to process feelings and experiences. We make contact with the world through our eyes and our hands in vital ways. Sight and touch together help us to explore and to communicate. Our fingerprint is unique and so are the particular elements and details of our individual healing process. We may need help to become aware of the possibilities of healing and to find what works for us.

Being prompted to work with my hands made me aware of the need to understand when to hold on and when to let go in life. I saw that I had to let go of the need to control outcomes or perceptions and to give up being defensive. Making things is what enabled me to make a shift, somehow helping me to respond from a new awareness and to feel a new kind of acceptance. It was a way of mending my broken self and healing wounds, gathering together the splintered pieces and creating afresh. I collected all sorts of objects and began to make a series of books. Gathering materials created an opening and I followed where it was leading, trying things out and seeing what happened, making connections and letting dreams and visions emerge. Negative imprints in our energy field become compounded over time and can be difficult to undo. Healing requires a willingness to search and to delve into the dark corners, if we are to understand and release blockages. I had been brought to my knees with situations that I couldn’t resolve at the physical level. I found that they could be untangled and worked out from another level of consciousness, if I was willing to be unravelled and knitted back up again!

I began working on pictures in boxes and made a series of assemblages called ‘Incubation Chambers’. Here I was bringing fragments together, searching through flotsam and jetsam, reclaiming discarded and abandoned things to make something new. It was part of a process of gathering up the broken pieces of my life and mending myself. All I had to do was turn up, follow clues and trust that the creative process would find a way of breaking through to heal the wounds.

There was an internal conversation taking place through the making process, as I became engrossed with all the bits and bobs I found. Handling and combining the materials and objects fed an unspoken, tactile knowledge. Intuition and heart energy was flowing through to my fingers, making connections and taking on physical form. In making art, the intelligence at work has nothing to do with conscious or rational processes and keeps bringing its own insights into play. Through handiwork, there seemed to be a kind of meditation on the subjects of when to engage and when to withdraw; when to hold on and when to let go; how, when and where to draw the line. I learned the importance of keeping on strengthening and growing intuition, awakening its power and following its lead.

Worn and broken bits of life would find their way to me, so that I could make something new out of them.

In the damaged and discarded objects, I discovered a path to faith, belief and trust.

Broken scraps of the ordinary world sang out with a force of their own. Each of us has the answers to our challenges within our own selves. On some level we know what our problems are and also what we need to do about them. Yet I could see within myself how we often resist this knowing and how we shy away from taking action. We want to grow and yet we are afraid of it. The cells of the body can heal when our energy is aligned to higher consciousness but our lower self will try to block our connection. I found that, with commitment and practice, tendencies such as avoidance, denial and resistance can be turned into a flow of creativity. Through creative work I was able to catch glimpses of what I needed to nurture and what I must weed out. I was working with my hands, weaving, stitching, gluing, writing, drawing and painting. I held an intention of grounding, understanding and healing myself. Engaging in simple pursuits can help us to face our fears and to find the place within us that knows very well whether we’re on course or not; that knows when we are acting in alignment with a higher awareness or being waylaid by doubts and insecurities. It can be said that both creativity and healing are working with energies, transforming our fear and pain instead of letting these consume us. I let the images and objects show the way and began some pieces called ‘Shelf Life’, the first of which is shown here. I was looking back long enough to see where I had disconnected and to understand the need to imagine differently. Embarking on a process of inner discovery felt like the only way to find out anything useful and I had to arrive at knowing from the inside. Any discoveries could not necessarily be articulated in words but they needed to be grasped, incorporated into myself

and put into practice in everyday life. When our everyday habits and behaviours shift and become more conducive to balance and flow, then we can say that healing is taking place. When I made an image of a picture book with crayon drawings, I was referring back to a childhood memory of being given crayons when I was ill with the measles. My therapist said that it reminded her of a pair of lungs and I realised that the pictures were helping to heal the damage to my lungs and chest. I believe that art can help to heal through building a rhythm of creative energy and encouraging it to circulate within. Artwork can help us to see the patterns that have led us to a dark place and to feel bold enough to re-invent our story. Along the way, we may find that what we thought of as our weaknesses turn out to be our strengths. Traits that we rated highly may be revealed as flaws. The qualities we once needed to survive may be very different from the ones we need to come back to life. I believe that imagery and imagination are powerful tools for transformation and can reconnect us to our soul’s purpose and vigour.

2. Writing and Drawing a Way

Returning to the memory of my firstborn son holding on to my finger so strongly with his hand, I recall that, on becoming a mother, I was taken aback by the ferocity of my own protective instinct. Like a lioness, I knew that I would do whatever was needed to protect my beautiful baby boy. Then, years later, I would despair at my inability to do so. I had to accept that I could not protect him from himself and that it’s no good struggling and fighting against ‘what is’. I had to learn crucial lessons, such as when to yield and when to push for change; when to let go and when to hold on; when to speak and when to be silent; when to act and when to wait; when to engage and when to withdraw. I found that making things and working with the hands helped to integrate my understanding. So did working with journals. Making, writing and drawing have been lifesavers for me. These activities worked in unison and journals became a kind of laboratory for growth and change. I had a feeling that when I closed the covers of a journal, some kind of whispered

conversation and intermingling went on amongst the pages. I felt that an unseen process magically transferred itself into the cells of my body. In recovery after surgery, I often felt that I wasn’t able to bring a great deal of energy to a task but whatever creative efforts I put into the journal seemed as if they carried on simmering after I’d finished. So then more energy would be provided. By keeping on turning up at the journal and opening to a fresh page, I was giving permission for this invisible interaction to continue. I trusted it to do its work. It gave me hope. We get information through handling things and it is often through touch and sight together that we build our impressions of the world. It is said that there is a relationship between the development of the hand and the development of language. I found that when I was exploring with textures, textiles and text, I was following clues. The word clue comes from the old English word ‘clew’, meaning a ball of thread. In making objects and journals, I was handling visible and invisible threads, like different languages. I was becoming familiar with the way that they can lead the way out of the labyrinth. I discovered that there is a correspondence between all of these many threads and the imaginative acts of rescue and repair. When we spend time working in a journal, we are agreeing to be present and to go with the flow; to see what’s there and to watch what rises to the surface. Here we gather things that fascinate, engage and inspire. We weave with words and shapes; play with colour and pattern; really look at things, such as simple forms in nature. Using our hands and eyes, together with pen, paper and an array of materials, we can begin to explore whole worlds in simple ways; worlds of image and imagination, memory and dream, myth and vision, poem and story.

A journal is a container for creative energy. Spending time within its pages keeps the energy flowing and helps to forge a path through everyday concerns into wider realms of possibility. We can listen to the soul whispering to us and let the messages flow through the hands onto the page. There is a hands-on way of knowing, a verbal understanding and a pictorial sensibility that combine and incubate together in the journals. I have found that working with my hands and also combining images and words has helped me to make leaps in the journey of recovery that I have been on. I became engrossed in the tasks of grasping hold of the elusive messages from the imaginative realms and handing them over into physical representations and forms. Journals can be completely private. There is no need for the contents to make sense to others or to be presented in any prescribed way. This is a place to feel free to explore and play. It is a safe arena in which to focus on the process rather than to be concerned about end results. The journal provides a space for exploration, play and experimentation.

As I found myself drawing around my hand and making eye-shaped patterns, I seemed to be building my trust in my own ability to handle what life may bring. Involvement with what we are making encourages the movement and growth that is taking place within. There is a cultural bias against the intelligence of the hands and yet I have found that the activity of making things with the hands brings about changes in body, emotions, mind and intuitive abilities.

It is often through simple practices that we are able to bring about changes and here the main thing is that we show up at the page, let go of preconceptions or expectations and stop worrying about results. As we observe our everyday interactions, we begin to recognise our own ingrained habits and patterns of behaviour or perception. We start to see beyond them, to make space to imagine afresh and to step into a different field or circle of possibility. On each page of a large journal, I drew a circle the size of a dinner plate and put straight lines beneath it. This was to be a container for a series of drawings and brief writings, where images and words sat side by side. Pictures emerged spontaneously and had a way of growing and gathering momentum. Words came afterwards, in a kind of conversation with the images.

Images and words are associated with different parts of the brain. The right and left sides of the brain have particular ways of responding. They can join forces and come together in a kind of dance, combining their particular methods of understanding in a new synthesis. Working together, they can help us to restore balance and to make shifts in our ways of looking and being. Artwork develops from a mixture of letting go of control and also paying close and disciplined attention to the work in hand. Work and play. At times certain elements in a journal cry out to be developed further. Some of the writing and images from the journals developed into a series called ‘A Parcel of Oblong Songs’.

Through the process of making things with my hands, painting and also drawing and writing in journals, I came to an understanding of how my energy field had been weakened by a habit of withdrawing energy. I saw that when we retreat, it has an effect on the mental and emotional fields. We may shrink away as a form of protection, yet this response inflicts its own damage. As we keep on withdrawing, energy becomes blocked and our potential is curtailed. I recognised that I had deep wounds carried from past lives, which had been compounded in this current lifetime. In the trio of videos ‘Restoring the Flow’, I look at how artwork contributed to the rescue of a part of my inner being that had been cut off. Uncovering a past

life memory of a flamenco dancer, who had been stopped in her tracks, revealed how a wellspring of creativity had been suppressed. I had been missing an essential part of myself and at one stage, it was shown to me as images of twins, two parts calling out to be brought back together.

These sketches led to my making a picture called ‘A Day for Daisies’, which contains pairs of beings and objects.

We all have enormous reservoirs of untapped potential. It is vital that we engage with transforming old, stuck energy into new energy patterns that are aligned with our higher potential. I found that imagery and art helped with the task of gathering up the pieces of my own patterns, calling back the pieces and starting to see beyond them. We may discover that times of difficulty and adversity can provide an impetus for growth if only we can begin to use them creatively. We need to face up to our own negative patterns. Artwork can assist in converting feelings and thoughts into images and this can be a great source of insight and can also be deeply nourishing.

In some parts of the world a trap is made for monkeys by putting sweets into a hefty jar. A monkey will grab hold of a handful of the treats and then find that he can’t pull his hand back out of the jar. Refusing to let go and keeping his fist clenched tight, he is trapped with one hand inside the heavy jar. I saw how I had stayed stuck, holding on when I needed to let go. It is often our thoughts and beliefs about a situation that are the ‘sweets’ we cling on to. When we can be still, we may receive vibrations from beyond the mind. We are like radios, receiving and transmitting energies.

When it comes to creative work, I have found that it is key to practise the Emerald Alignment and to meditate before starting work. Before we begin, we can sit and align to the creative force that needs to flow in this moment. It will bring about surprising results. We are creating all the time with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes. We form internal images, which affect our ways of being. Only we can think our thoughts, feel our feelings and transform our inner images. When we are able to stand back and watch all of this inner activity, we begin to appreciate our own personal responsibility for how we perceive and interact with the world. We are each looking through a particular lens and once we have observed our habitual perceptions and responses, we can choose to change them. We do not have to argue and fight with them. Instead we can opt to reconnect with a higher awareness. We can meditate, ask to see things afresh, allow old patterns to be dissolved and sense what shapes and rhythms are waiting to emerge. We can engage with creating new images, ones that are in tune with our true capacity. We can bring ourselves into a state of alignment with our higher self and act from there. We can use the power of our intuition, imagination and creative energy to heal and to grow.

“Creative imagination activates the divine seed that is waiting to sprout inside us.� Rassouli

For more information please visit: The Emerald Alignment: www.livingmemoryresearch.net Meditation: www.sapphirelight.net

Contact Details: Louise Oliver louise@sapphirelight.net

Louise’s interview on Paranormal Matters Radio: ‘Choosing to Live’

Art and Alignment Healing Journey Part Three: The Object In Hand © Louise Oliver