First Anniversary Reflection – Balance as a Dance

Please welcome Michelle Bunch, a process art maker from our Friday morning HeART Journaling Class . Michelle will be writing for us each month, sharing a bit of her own experience of how process art works in her, both inside and outside of the studio.

Balance as a dance. Both. Expansion and contraction. Space for all the parts. Non-linear. Courage. Inner heart knowing. Vulnerability. Softness. Resilience. Boldness. Play.

These are some of the words and themes that surface as I reflect on my one year anniversary of process painting and art making in the studio. For me, reflection is powerful and like digestion in many ways. It requires a pause and some time, some gurgling and sometimes discomfort and is necessary for truly absorbing nutrients and releasing what is not serving in order to restore and grow.

This process has helped me gain more clarity around what I have experienced and want to carry with me from this year and also brought me a lot of hope. Moments, emotions and thoughts can be so convincing like waves that swallow me so I forget the larger ocean they belong to. There have been many moments and days in the studio and in my daily life that I’m sure I will never move outside a wave of confusion or anxiety. And yet there’s growth happening, mysterious, non-linear, sometimes invisible growth. Showing up and participating from my heart in this practice, with this community has made a difference in my life.

Stephanie often asks, is there anything you are saying no to, and if so, is there a way to include or honor this in your art? This question is a tool that orients me toward a path of love and authenticity. It helps me build the skill of discerning between what is conditioned or based in fear and what is true for me and aligned with my soul. I don’t always know or feel clear about this, but I keep listening to the sensations in my body and the energy in my heart. Over time, in the sacred space of  the home studio, I’ve been able to experiment with saying yes in more honest and bold ways to my shadow side as well as to my loving, life affirming nature. Playing with expression of these parts of me and of the world can feel freeing and risky, both at the same time.

There was a lot of fatigue, heaviness in my chest, dark colors and monsters in my first HeART journal entry of the new year. Through the creative process, with support from Stephanie and the group, and in allowing myself to feel these darker feelings, movement occurred. Soft pink owls arrived with sensations of greater space and lightness in my body and I included them in my painting. They don’t cover up or make the monsters go away, but exist alongside them. Movement doesn’t always happen that quickly but there was a wave I was able to surrender to in this particular period that felt really healing to me. I love creating process art because it doesn’t have to make sense or be explained, follow rules, be perfect or pretty. It is never too late to begin, no limited chances or wrong moves. It is a path and practice of listening to and trusting my felt sense and intuition, living with more wholeness and flexibility and participating in this dance of life.

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Michelle Bunch is celebrating one year of process art making and self-discovery with the Creative Nectar community! Michelle earned her master’s degree from Kansas State University in Marriage and Family Therapy and has worked with a wide range of ages from children to aging adults. She has been trained as a play therapist, completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training program and the Beginning Level of Somatic Experiencing, a body-based approach to healing trauma and restoring regulation and flow. Mindfulness is an important part of her life and she is a member of Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness and leads a community class once a month integrating movement and mindfulness. Michelle is joyfully awaiting her first child in spring 2018 and has chosen to pause her clinical work and use this time to listen and tend to this growing life and to her own soul.

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