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In the Flux

Last weekend I got to visit the beach for the first time in months, being next to the sea is one of the most healing things I can do. I grew up a five-minute walk from the water, but I used to take it for granted because I could go anytime. Then I moved away and became landlocked. As visits home became more sporadic I began to realise how important the water is to me.


A number of years ago, at a conference on compassionate approaches to mental health, I took part in a workshop around the therapeutic use of clay. While we worked, the inspirational facilitator, Beatrice Birch (www.innerfire.us), explored how different mediums elicited different responses. While the clay grounded us and focused the attention inwards, watercolours could do the opposite, supporting us to look outward and entertain new possibilities.


I use a range of mediums in my work with clients, but I notice that it is watercolours that I go back to time and again when working on myself. I wonder if this is to balance my natural tendency to introversion. I work intuitively with them, using the hues I am drawn to, and letting it move across the page, mingling with what is already there. It is never about the end product, but always about the process. It feels like freedom and it brings with it a lightness.


As I drive towards the coast, noticing the change in the air, the same lightness comes over me and there is a feeling of release from the moment I glimpse the sea on the horizon. Lakes and rivers can help, but there is something about the vastness of the ocean, of watching the tide come in and out, always moving and shifting that reminds me it is ok to let things go. That everything is fluid and everything changes. That we cannot stop the tides moving around us, we must move with them. When I visit the sea or work with watercolours, I find myself able to recognise what inside of me is no longer serving a useful purpose. If I allow myself to sit with these feelings to acknowledge them as they are, sometimes, I can cast them off and into the ocean and leave space inside for something different.


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