One Saturday morning, I attended a two hour Phototherapy workshop.
Lately I have been interested in trying different things, so I decided to go, not knowing exactly what it was going to be like.
So here I’m going to share the experience and what I learned.
There were two exercises, but to me they were both related. We were told to select or take pictures of 8 things that may call our attention within a defined scope. The teacher herself, for example, chose a path between the door of the room and the window of the room. Then she started walking that path and took 3 pictures within that path. Among the three pictures was one she took of a tiny receipt on the floor. This was very important. She didn´t take a picture of the nicest or prettiest thing. She just took a picture of something more or less neutral or random. The instruction afterwards was to ask ourselves, how can this object that we photographed respond to my essential question? My question was: How can I get rid of my anxiety? How can a receipt on the floor help me get rid of my anxiety!!! The idea is to put your question or dilema out in the world and see how the world can answer you back.
For the exercise I took the following three pictures:
In addition to the pictures I took, we had to select pictures from some randomly available magazines. Then we had to put the pictures on a big canvas and organize them by groups. We had to ask questions. I noticed some of the pictures made me feel scared, so I made a group of them.
The next group, see below, was a group made of two pictures that made me feel calm and good. We were supposed to ask ourselves questions about the pictures. I noticed these two pictures that made me feel good, somehow returned me to my childhood. The Denis Hopper picture reminds me of my grandparents village which I used to visit in the summer.
We then had to find relationships between the different groups and between all the photos in the canvas.
There was a picture of someone squeezing the liquid out of a sponge. I had chosen the picture thinking I was smart in doing that. Hey, the liquid can represent anxiety and squeezing the liquid out of the sponge can represent getting rid of anxiety. However placed on the canvas, I really didn´t feel any of that. Looking at it, I didn´t feel like my anxiety was dripping away.
So the teacher said, if the photograph is not serving you a purpose, then take it out of the canvas. Before getting rid of the sponge photograph I decided to try the relationship exercise. I tried relating the sponge picture with the set of pictures I felt good about that related to my childhood. At that instant, a flash vision of my childhood neighbor lady standing in her kitchen appeared to me. I smiled because it had been 40 years since then and remembering her kitchen made me smile. This feeling produced was authentic, as opposed to when I was trying to use my thinking too much with explicit meanings of the pictures.
There was also a picture of nice scenery.
But when I would look at it, I would not feel anything real. I would say, if I was there, I would be thinking I don’t belong there and that my poverty, unemployment, housing problems and other problems are waiting for me back in the city. Despite hating the picture, I tried asking questions and trying to find how this picture can answer my question. And that also clicked. I realized that if I was there and suddenly fell on the floor and had only 10 minutes to live, I would look at the scenery and completely enjoy it without resentment. Because if I only had 10 minutes to live, I wouldn’t have time to go back to the city to try to fix anything. So might as well use the 10 remaining minutes enjoying the scenery.