Through painting exercises, it is possible to get in contact with antiquated thinking and feelings that can inhibit and block creative thinking and thus achievement of goals. During the painting process thoughts and feelings are moved from the irrational right hemisphere of the brain to the rational left hemisphere. This allows one's rationality and activeness to take care of the blocks, without getting to know what is actually blocking.
Consequently, it is an incredibly gentle way to get rid of old destructive feelings. It is also a gentle way to awaken and activate the creative potentials. This allows one´s thought patterns to be of ease and lightness, which helps promote a constructive and vitalizing dimension in one's life. In the meditation the intellect is”tricked" so even if one's intelligence should have resistance to the meditation, it works.
The method takes its name from Prometheus, which according to Greek mythology was the God who brought light to mankind. This method, which brings light into one’s mind, came to me in a mentally inspired glimpse. Therefore it seems to me to be an appropriate name.
The method has been used at “Kommunikationsakademiet” since spring 2013. It is remarkable that until now it has resulted in a higher level of lightness, optimism, joy and inspiration of the meditators. So far the method has had a success rate of 100%. As it applies both to stress and out-burnt adults and suicidal young, we consider that there is a high probability that the concept may well prevent stress, depression and burn-out as well as benefit long-term psychosomatic illnesses.
1) You identify what currently is the theme of your life. From this a seed thought is created, which forms the starting point of the meditation. The thought should be phrased as a statement of an undesirable behavioral pattern. E.g. "I raise my voice against my children”.
2) A piece of paper (about 65-70 x 40 cm) is placed in front of you so that the level of your eyes are in the middle of the paper. It can be attached to an easel or a wall with masking tape. You can choose to sit or stand.
3) Choose the colour crayons you like. Bring the crayons, as well as water and brushes to your space in front of the paper. During the meditation, if you feel an urge for a different colour than the chosen ones, feel free to go and get it.
4) You draw a vertical line in the middle of the paper from the top and down
5) You ask your left hand how you really feel about the formulated theme. Let the left hand pick a colour. With your left hand, you paint on the right side of the paper. The colour and shape will reflect your state of mind. Do not think about which colours you are going to choose or which shapes you are going to create. Allowing the left hand to draw without the intellect controlling the crayon. Then observe the colors and shapes that left hand has created. Throughout the process your nose must be placed in front of the vertical line.
During this part of the drawing process meditative music is played. It must be music with high level of order, appropriate and customized to the group. It may be Wachet auf (Bach), Johannespassionen (Bach), Alina ( Arvo Pärt), Wagner’s Parsifal.
When you sense that you are finished, you move the chair a few centimeters and observe what has been painted on the right side of the paper. Verbalize your feeling(s) while observing the painting. You write the feeling(s) with the left hand on the right side of the paper.
A)If the feeling(s) is negative, you ask the right hand if it will show you the way out of the feeling(s).
B) If there is both a negative and a positive feeling, you ask your right hand to show you the way out of the negative feeling and into the positive feeling.
C) If the feeling is positive, ask your right hand to show you what to use this quality for.
Observe what the right hand paints on the left side of the paper. Complete the process as in 5)
7) The process is repeated. This time, the process is based on the quality you came in contact with at the end of 6).
8) Verbalize your feeling(s) at in the end of the 2nd process.
9) An”image observation” is made based on the knowledge of “base characters” . Then you are confronted with the base characters and your choice of colours and shapes (of the last left field).Finally, formulate a request(s), which must contain concrete ideas to what is needed in order to be able to get the quality/ies you want into your life.
10) During the process you get the opportunity to relate to the right field of the paper and decide on what you want to do with it. Should it be thrown away, burned, painted over or saved? If you have not taken a position during the process, do so now.
As I am not a neuroscientist, my approach to the topic is conditioned by the literature that is available on cognition neurological research, including research in emotional intelligence and the frontal lobes.
1) When you identify your theme, you are asked to avoid analyzing what you will focus on and instead choose the subject that is prevalent to you. Even though the client at this point denies a pain point or does not use this pain point as a starting point for the mediation, it is not essential as this preliminary interview primarily serves the purpose of establishing a comfortable and relaxed connection between the client and the therapist. The preliminary interview serves the purpose of moving the client from beta- brain wave level, which is dominating while we are awake, analyzing, working etc. to alpha-brain wave level, which dominates while awake with eyes closed and in contact with our body and feelings.
2) It is of great importance that you fasten the paper on the easel or the wall yourself. Making your own decision on whether to stand or to sit reinforces the experience of being self-determining and thus helps establish contact with yourself. In this way you have to listen to your body in order to decide on whether to stand or sit. In order for the brain activity to change from Beta to Alpha, it is important to have the entire focus on how you feel about these simple things. The importance of the client doing these simple tasks himself is to make the level of stress decline so that the level of cortisol decreases. This allows the amygdala center, the reptile brain, to perceive and understand that there are no threats and that you can relax. Consequently, it is important that the entire process take place in a relaxed and comfortable environment.
3) Choose which crayon colours you want to use, having the awareness that you can go and pick more/other crayons during the process. This promotes the goal from process part 2. The remembrance mass in the amygdala center, which is activated in situations where the feeling of freedom and security is threatened, should not be stimulated. Instead a space and an experience of security must be created. In this space you decide for yourself, and there is no manipulation or hidden agendas that you need to be aware of.
4) When your left hand chooses a colour and draws a vertical line in the middle of the paper from the top and down, a contact to old cellular memory in the right hemisphere of the brain is established.
5. The left part of the body from the brain downwards corresponds to the right hemisphere of the brain and the right part of the body from the brain downwards corresponds to the left hemisphere of the brain. Ask your left hand how you really feel about the theme in question and recite the seed thought mentally/ silently in your mind. It is most likely you will experience one of the following situations:
A)At worst, a contact with beta level of activity in both hemispheres of the brain is established, telling you that it is pretty insane communicating with your left hand as if your left hand would know anything (Hijacking of the Amygdala center). The rational day - consciousness of the left hemisphere of the brain, understood as conventional stereotype thinking, will try to control the motion of the left hand. The therapist sees this clearly when the characters are extremely figurative.
B)Ideally totally let go and bring your attention inwards. Let the brush and water colours meet the paper and wait to see what happens.
C) The music played must be of such a nature that it brings you into contact with your deeper feelings. Once the music, for example Bach Vachet auf, flows through the body, it helps you further into the alpha level. After a few minutes of internal dialogue between the left and right brain hemisphere (resistance to indulge / letting go) the music received in the right hemisphere of the brain, seduces you to let go. This creates confidence that you are protected and part of something bigger. Quietly you sense that it must be a certain colour and a certain form penetrating the paper.
The negative emotions and feelings are located deep down in the right hemisphere of the brain and they all have even deeper unconscious memories of unmet needs. Some can be individual memories from early infancy or fetal stage. Others may be collective unconscious memories and regress to earlier stages of development in the evolution.
The focus and the use of the left hand during the painting process allow one to tap into the source of the seed thought.
Ancient negative feelings and negative feelings created in fetus or infant stages are brought into the light. The right eye will see the shape and colour of the negative feelings. They will be seen and handled. The right eye sees the colours and shapes, which creates awareness in the left hemisphere as the right eye corresponds to the left hemisphere of the brain.
After completing the drawing and image observation, verbalize how you feel. It is the left hemisphere that rationally processes the sight of the feelings and needs. The right hemisphere is relieved from some of the negativity, which with neurotransmitters is transported via the corpus callosum to the left hemisphere.
The emotions that most people experience during the meditation are related to relief, joy and elevation. Writing the experienced feeling with the left hand on the right side on the paper brings the person even more in touch with the feeling center (Amygdala).
6. ad A)Right hand corresponds to the left hemisphere of the brain. When asking the right hand to show what it takes to get out of the negative feeling, an activity in the left hemisphere is initiated.
Normal beta activity analysis is avoided because the answer is not verbalized. Instead a form of questioning activity is initiated. When asking questions without "knowing" what the answer is, abstract thinking begins to take place. (Belief to know the answer - in the sense of past thinking or idle thinking.)
If you ask questions while being at “alpha brain wave level”, the pineal gland can sometimes send signals to the adrenal glands to secrete stress hormones, which belong to the pyrokatechine stress hormone system (including melatonin). This can allow inspired thinking to take place, which is understood to perceive abstract answers to a plan of ideas. This is the part of the mind that you might call super-consciousness. These answers to the plan of ideas penetrate as strong incentives to use certain colours and shapes.
Ad B) and C) Same mechanism.
As you verbalize an inspiration, you become aware of its quality. New neuron connections between the pineal gland and the frontal lobe system are created.
7. Look further
8. If you after the image observation is left with a negative feeling, it is certain that a “hijacking of
Amygdala” has occurred. In that case you use the quality (feeling) in question as a starting point in the second process, in order to get in touch with old (instinct) memories further down in the right hemisphere of the brain. This implies that the mind matter that the person was previously in contact with, dissipates in accordance with the description in number 5.
If you after the first image observation are left with a positive feeling, this feeling is used for the next process. After repetition of the process, it sometimes happens that while observing the left side of the paper, a negative feeling may occur in the mind. This happens when you observe what the right hand has drawn and the client is not able to find the qualities in the detected potential. This can cause the client to suddenly feel destructive in the mind.
9. According to all research into signs and their significance there are only five basic characters.
1) The circle
2) The line
3) The line that is crossed by another line
4) The dynamic line with zigzag, representing the spiral in any variant, and
5) Distribution characters.
These characters have parallels both in nature and in all old myths. They are also the first signs that mankind has drawn and were discovered up to 50-60,000 years old in the form of cave paintings. These are also the first signs that children begin to draw when they get the first drawing tools in their hands as toddlers. When exposed to these characters in their basic forms (for instance in nature), the same associations happen in the mind, regardless of social, educational and evolutionary background. (With the exception of the intersecting lines.)
The circle, the spherical shape, the round space, is a shape that we associate to oneness, wholeness and something to be protected in.
The line, which we for example may experience when looking at a calm ocean, is associated with peace but when the line breaks, when contrast meets, something happens which depending on the level of latent fear in our minds, results in either attraction or repulsion. Depending on whether we in our remembrance lot, associate meeting contrasts with a change for the better or for the worse, we will either find it easy or difficult to cope with crossing lines. In nature we can see such an encounter when lightning strikes or when there is penetration of any kind such as a harpoon in an animal, a spear in a human, an ax in a tree.
Two intersecting lines are powerful symbols of the old sun gear, swastika and the cross, which is depicted in the Christian religion. In the ancient religion, the cross is positively perceived but over time the cross has been seen in a negative light with latent potential of hope as "the road to eternal life." For the mind without fear, the trusting mind, there are memories of a joyous change and even expansion of love and fertility in connection with the meeting between contrasts ( man – woman etc.).
A certain type of mind cannot paint the cross, simply cannot have it in their consciousness. That is the mind that does not see any point in changes. In our culture it is believed that all human beings are similar but they are not. E.g. aborigines cannot paint lines crossing each other. The aborigines give the impression of the wishful thinking that tomorrow should be just as today, which is defined as a good day, precisely because it is like yesterday.
People in our culture may desire change, for example a life in community with others and without isolation or a life in which they are creative instead of doing the same things again and again. They do not achieve their desires because while the adults’ conductor in the left frontal lobe wants change, the right cerebral is simultaneously hijacked by amygdala’s unconscious memories about the dangers of change and therefore feel threatened and do not dare.
Creating happiness, inspiration and threats are received in the right hemisphere of the brain. During the exercise it is possible to experience the joy of being playful but when the right hand on the left side of the paper paints what is needed to realize this playfulness. In a fraction of a second, the super-consciousness, realizes that it is quite clear that you have to meet and confront what is blocking for the realization to happen. However, making an intersection / a cross is avoided so that the meeting does not occur because the threat level is so high that the fear takes over and a hijacking takes place.
During the image observation it is possible to talk to the client about this so that he or she understands that what it takes is a confrontation. It might be an interesting experiment to paint the intersection/ the crosses in a comfortable atmosphere where the past cannot attack the client. To paint the crosses (to overcome fear in security / in a safe environment) has an immense redemptive effect of whatever it is you feared and foster a sense of ease and freedom in the mind.
This sense of freedom makes it easier to feel more inspired. The questions allow oneself to see what changes are needed in everyday life so that a feeling of freedom remains and in remarkable ways many have the experience of knowing what it takes. This is a strong impulse, which is related to something very meaningful and can be verbalized.
As the left eye is in front of the right- hand drawing and controlled by the consciousness of the left hemisphere of the brain, there is a correspondence with the right hemisphere, which is now experiencing the ease of being able to make the meeting with the contrasts. There is less weight and more ease in the right hemisphere of the brain and a smaller amount of destructive emotions. Thus a new neuron - connection system seems to be created.
The zigzag lines, waves and the spiral all provide the same associations to movement. It may be a gentle dynamic movement as in soft lapping waves, chuckling lightly and merrily or a violent dynamic movement as in a quivering thunderbolt. Without dynamics there is not much energy in life. Gentle dynamics may seem extremely pleasant, violent dynamics may seem extremely unpleasant but also liberating to get rid of.
Finally, there are the distribution characteristics. In nature we experience them in the summer time when looking at the starry sky or at wintertime looking at quiet and still falling snowflakes. All these infinite units are apparently separate, although there is a connection and an order that works through them. You get a sense of safety, infinity, boundlessness, coherence and sense.
According to the semiotic science and symbolism all these basic signs must be present in order for there to be harmony. In our therapeutic process it is required not to talk about how something should be. During the image observations there is no evaluation or analysis but only observation. When looking at what is needed to get out of a destructive feeling or realizing a desired quality, by observing the drawn characters, the task of the therapists is to help the client to understand, at a self -consciousness level, what it takes.
If the major theme is a circle, it may be getting wholeness, oneness and confidence into life. The overriding theme of the line might be creating more peace and calmness in life. The cross portrays the theme of confrontation. If the base characters are dynamic, the theme might be getting more energy into life. The overall theme of the distribution characters might be getting the universal or spiritual dimensions into life. When the client repeatedly decides on different things to change in everyday life, it brings him out of destructive patterns and toward realizing the desired goals. Courage, action and a constructive initiative in which the client takes himself very seriously, is created. In such a life it is not easy to get sick, and you may feel better if you already suffer from a psychosomatic illness.
10. To simply destroy a drawing that you hardly can bear to look at can create a tremendous feeling of freedom. During such a process it is important to clarify what has happened to you as a child and to know that it is not something you are but something others have done to you. We emphasize the great difference in perceiving oneself as identical with what has happened and separated from what has happened. We make a distinction between the person and the actions made to the child.
As the little child reflects the surroundings and identifies itself with the outer environment and thus with the deeds (victim / executioner) committed, there is often a deep shame and guilt associated with any violations of physical or mental disability. This destructive gravitational energy is found in the right hemisphere of the brain. If it is recognized intellectually that you are not what has happened to you and you decide to destroy that illusion (left frontal lope activity), redemption can take place. The illusion bursts in the same way as when Hercules in the old myth lifts the many-headed hydra into the light, and it turns out it has no power and fades away. Facing the danger is thus identical to comprehending it as an illusion, bound to deeds in the past, as you as an intellectual and mental being are free from.
During the process an intellectualization of the feelings and an emotional attachment of the intellect happens. This process frees mankind from the tyranny of the hijacking of Amygdala.
CPJ den 10.11.2015
Lisa von Schmalensee, mag. art i litteratur,
Translation into english by Christina Præstkær