As I drove to my Gestalt Workshop this past Sunday, I had the radio on and the music paused for a traffic and weather update.
"Stay at home if you don't need to go out today. Temperatures will get no higher than the single digits, although the wind chill factor will make it seem like minus fifteen."
I could hear Miss Sammie from above...
"Mareer, I know how stubborn you are. You better have bundled up. now just drive carefully and allow plenty of time."
The Physical Aspects of Gestalt
I was armed with Chef Geoff's Blueberry Fluff and I felt confident in that aspect. We were having a pot luck luncheon with our class of fifteen, including the group facilitators. I've never known a group not to thoroughly enjoy this creamy confection of 'stuff' , as one of my new friends called it. Suffice to say, the Fluff (or stuff) was a big hit.
Our class started off with a weather report, which is a brief summary (no more than a minute) of how we are doing and / or what's been going on since the last time we got together.
My personal weather report was a good one in that I have started doing my own weather reports with my nursing students. In fact, I do them both at the beginning and at the end of the clinical day. The students are finding an incredible increase in their own self-awareness and I am getting a better handle of how they are doing with the many experiences they are encountering.
Ironically, I am rarely anxious before I teach and am helpful in assisting my students with their varying degrees of angst. Yet, on my way to the workshop, I had physical symptoms of high anxiety on par with Mel Brooks. I gently and calmly talked to myself - with Blueberry Fluff by my side to guide me to my destination.
Oh, and a CD, In The Lonely Hour, I just got by 2015 Grammy winning Sam Smith was very helpful too ...
The Mental Aspects of Gestalt
Each workshop has an aspect of didactic theory that we review and discuss based on our homework readings. Sunday's lesson centered on the Layers of Personality - which came from Fritz Perls text: Gestalt Therapy Verbatim.
To Perls, there are five layers of our personality. We may experience some/all of them for any length of time throughout our lives - weaving back and forth even - depending on our life circumstances and who we are interacting with at any given point in time.
The first layer is the Cliché Layer. Many of us stay here with most of the people we interact with. Daily greetings to strangers on the street; exchanging pleasantries with the customer service representative on the telephone or the receptionist at the doctor's office - even acquaintances or distant relatives you don't see very often. It's perfectly understandable not to delve into all kinds of personal business with many in our lives - in fact, it can be quite dangerous. Some are stuck in this layer with those in their immediate circle of intimacy for one reason or another.
The next layer is the Role Play Layer. We can give ourselves these roles. They can be given to us. Examples include: the crybaby, the fixer, the victim, the strong one, the black sheep, the favorite. You get the idea. Much of this layer is perception - our own and those of others. It can change from childhood through our adulthood or stay completely the same.
The Phobic Layer is next. Words used to describe this phase of our lives are impasse, implosive and flight. We may be in denial if there is a problem or issue that needs addressing, such as an addiction, a phobia or fear of something.
Next is the Death Layer where base, core fears (such as abandonment, engulfment, disintegration and rejection) are raw and ever present. We feel vulnerable and unlovable. Although I know differently now, in June, 1999, after the shooting, I felt my world had entirely crashed. I had an up close and personal experience with the Death Layer.
The last layer that Mariah Fenton Gladis actually coined is referred to as the Life Layer, where I must say I personally prefer hanging out. In this stage, there is a celebration and explosion into feelings - variations such as mad, sad, glad, even fear. From where I'm sitting today, feeling the feeling and owning it is way more than half the battle.
I've opted to stick with the Life Layer, no matter how uncomfortable it might get. I have found that stripping down these layers, it can get mighty toasty on that Hot Seat, especially when I am talking to myself AND not allowed to be critical. How do you like that? I now have to be nice to myself?
The Spiritual Aspects of Gestalt
In an effort to be nice to myself, I've decided to hang out with myself a little more. I mean really hang out in my own head - as Miss Sammie used to say : "I want to hear myself think".
The Gestalt readings and videos are amazing and I intend to share some points here and there along my journey with you.
This very brief video left me thoroughly warm, inspired and motivated to proceed at my own pace through this personal journey. I am reminded that we learn from everyone in our lives. In this video, an adorable baby proves to be an adept instructor. Hope it brings you a smile and an incentive to stretch (even if only mentally)...!
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