A Zen stick – Thank you Meera!

Healing & Meditation

Second part of chapter 5 from Modita’s new book, ‘Depression’. She writes about Failing and Inferiority, her experience with the Schema Therapy, and the Art Therapy Training with Meera.

The previously published first part, The Turning Point in my Depression, talks about Schema Therapy, Social Isolation, and Entanglement.

Modita and friend painting in a workshop with Meera

Failing and Inferiority

I felt as a child that my parents had high expectations of me, even though I never heard them say it aloud (they always told me: ‘What matters is that you are happy and not what you do’). I tried to meet their expectations through studying hard. In my depression it feels like a failure that I don’t do anything with the study, in which they have invested so much of their time and money.

My feeling of having failed is reinforced by my psychological problems, which make me feel like a burden to my parents. My mother is worried every day during the six years that I have anorexia and she is sad when I go to school with a minimal breakfast in my stomach, and my father is also sad when he sees that I feel so unhappy. Nonetheless, I feel that my father has always been proud of me despite my depressions. A few years before he dies he says that he is happy that his daughters have all ended up doing something else than what he had in mind.

By slowly making connection with the vulnerable child in me I feel how uncomfortable and left out I have felt in high school, for which I have tried to compensate by focussing totally on my study. In the schema therapy group I notice that this experience has made me more on guard; when there is a conflict with one of the group members I easily take my refuge in attacking.

I also see now that I have partly hidden behind spirituality to avoid facing earthly life (in the sense of making contacts with others, making my home cosy, finding work), and to evade making any mistakes. Besides that, I have raised my future ideals more and more, which has totally paralysed me. In the therapy I start making small, achievable steps, which sets me in motion and gives me the feeling that I am alive. It gives me rest when I look back on such a step and wonder what I might want to do differently next time.

I learn to shift my focus from ‘having to do something great’ to ‘enjoying something small’. Even when a small project flows into a disappointment, it is satisfying anyhow, because I feel enriched by having had one more experience. It gives me more and more fun to learn something new and to experience new things and it increases the positive image of myself.

My experience with the Schema Therapy

The good thing about the schema therapy is that I have a daily structure again. Every morning I have a place to go to on my bicycle. I also meet other people without having to make an effort to look for company. It’s liberating that I am among people now who are not from my own family; I can share things, without feeling the emotional ballast of what my feelings trigger in family members. I have real coffee breaks again and listening to the experiences of my group members makes my world grow wider.

After a few weeks I am not so much concerned with the differences between me and the other anymore, but start to see the similarities.

Previously I have looked down on the everyday things of life. Now I experience how precious it is to share my daily habits and worries with the members of my group. It is healing for me that they sympathize and actively share thoughts with me on how I can handle the difficulties that arise in my daily life. More and more I open myself to their advice and I am moved by the sincere support I get. It also feels nice to me think of things with them, and that is appreciated.

The therapy process does not pass without some friction, however. There is even a lot of it: some group members really get my back up and then I am sitting behind my small table boiling with anger. In this setting I cannot escape the seemingly minor things that affect me so much.

It is super confronting for me to sit behind my table in that grey room in the building of the GGz day in and day out, often without much progress. Sometimes I don’t even see any progress at all, although the other members of my group don’t agree.

Certainly a hundred times I indicate that I will stop in a week’s time. I want to go to the Osho Meditation Centre in India then, where I always feel good. No one forces me to stay. Nor does my beloved therapist Anja. She consistently says: “It’s always good to remain critical.” And yet: I remain and there is not a single day that I don’t attend. I stay because I have no alternative. Only in the years following the therapy do I see clearly what I have learned here; I have summarized it above in the description of each schema.

After I have been one year in therapy, I complain about the fact that I don’t have a focus in my life. A group member recommends I make a focus-stone in the creative therapy block. That idea appeals to me. I carve out of pink soapstone a small thin rock that rests on a two millimetre base – steep, pointed and perky. The light twinkles sparkling in the soft pink stone. I put it gently before me on the table and all of a sudden there is my focus. I decide on the spot to do the three-week long ‘Osho Art Therapy Training’ in the Spanish Basque country: painting as a therapy with Osho as a source of inspiration led by the Japanese artist Meera Hashimoto. For the first time I am able to choose again.

The Art Therapy Training

Meera Hashimoto, a Japanese artist, has developed Osho Art Therapy: painting as therapy. You rediscover in this training the creativity in yourself that has always been present, but which has often been suppressed by your upbringing and by the education system. Osho meditations (about which I say more later in this book) are an important part of this form of therapy. In the Art Therapy Training you also learn how to guide others in this process. For this, going through your own process is essential.

I have already had the opportunity a few times to help in this training when Meera offered it in Poona. As a ‘helper’ I used to put in an enormous amount of work: mixing the paint, fitting plastic on the marble floor on which we paint outside, carrying the wooden boards which serve as the blotting-pad of the papers we paint on, arranging the group room and much more. As a helper I was allowed to join the training for free. It has always brought me a lot: liveliness, connection with myself and with others and with creativity. Since I feel that I have not come out of my depression totally yet despite the schema therapy, this is why I hope that this training will bring me back to life again.

Because Meera knows that I am emotionally stuck, I am only allowed now to do her training as a participant, so that I can do the process totally, only for myself.

I have a lot of respect for Meera; she lives what she teaches; she goes deep in her meditation, is merged into her own painting and is very committed to reviving creativity in others. She works from a space of love, respect and equality. With her I feel very clear how much healing happens through love and respect.

The training starts in two weeks, which means that if I want to participate, I need to stop with my schema therapy earlier than planned. My therapists agree with that. Two weeks later I complete my therapy and three days after that I’m sitting on the plane to Bilbao. On three buses I travel further to Amalurra; a beautiful centre in the rolling hills of the Basque country run by a community of people who have mother Amma as their source of inspiration and who meditate together every day. Here I will follow the Art Therapy Training with twenty-five participants and ten helpers, who come from all over the world.

At the centre is a large restaurant where we are served the best food three times a day. The therapy room, which the people of Amalurra have built themselves, looks like a temple, with walls which almost completely consist of windows so that you can see Nature all around. I sleep with two other people in a room, which is not easy because one of them snores like a charm.

When we sit in a circle on the first morning together with Meera, I tell the group in the introduction round that I’m depressed and that I find myself socially isolated.

Meera looks at me with penetrating eyes and says: “So just inquire how you bring yourself into that isolation – why don’t people feel safe with you – why do they run away from you – what is the cause of your creating an unloving atmosphere around you. This you can’t fix in one day; keep exploring.”

Bang; that hits me like an arrow. It is a tap with the well-known Zen stick of Meera. Not ‘poor-you-why-are-you-so-down-and-lonely?’ It’s totally up to me to examine what exactly I am doing. I realize: who can look into this matter except me alone? I am my own researcher and at the same time my own research object. Because she has the confidence that I can do this, I feel, despite – or maybe thanks to – the tough message, respected by Meera.

From that moment on I take responsibility for myself. Deep down I have always felt that I was avoiding this responsibility. I always looked up to people who carried their own responsibility and who were therefore mature. I have always stuck to the conviction that this is not within my reach and I have always been looking for excuses in the past to justify this. Now I realize that I can still start this very moment to take full responsibility for all my actions.

With each contact I now observe myself: what exactly do I do in a contact? – how do I make myself a victim? – what comparison do I make of myself with the other? – when don’t I ask the other how he or she feels but am only concerned with myself? – when do I make my own problem the most important thing in the world? – how do I avoid contact? – how do I give up trying to connect with the sentence in my head: “I can’t manage anyhow?”

This self-examination becomes the first important pillar in this training for my healing and growth.

The second pillar is the ‘Osho Dynamic Meditation’. It is a physically and emotionally intense meditation, which we do early in the morning and about which I say more later in this book.

The third pillar of my healing are Family Constellations. Also to this I come back later.

After the morning meditation we paint – interrupted by the delicious meals and a siesta – from early morning until late at night on large handmade sheets of paper on the floor.

We give space to the inner child to express itself completely. We make contact with each other by painting in each other’s drawing, which makes me feel how the other enriches my creativity and my life, and how I add something to the life of the other.

We learn to say ‘no’ to what the other person does in our painting, and to say ‘yes’ to the contribution of the other and above all: to say ‘yes’ to life. We meet our inner critic and learn to sell our painting (our creativity): to really stand for it. In the section ‘self-portrait’ we sit behind mirrors on the floor and meet our parents through our eyes; the right eye is connected with the father and the left eye with the mother. Meera teaches us, and lets us feel, that you can only be creative when you have a good connection with your mother. Family Constellations help to see that which stands in the way of that connection. By seeing this obstacle it resolves.

In the last week we descend to a little creek that flows between the soft lush greenery of trees and creepers. We paint there for hours, each on his or her own spot, inviting exuberant Nature onto our paper.

Dancing is an essential part of the training. We dance our painting and paint our dance.

In this training I regain my life. Meera sees it and asks me if I want to help her in India once again in the training she will give in Poona in half a year. Out of pure joy my arms fly around her neck. She looks at me and says: “And now never go back into depression again.” I know this will never happen; something in me has been completely cleaned up and I feel anchored in myself; light and full of colours. I will continue with meditation, connecting with my body, with getting deeper roots in the earth and with sharing what has taken me out of the depression. I will share it with those who, just like me, want to get back their life through awareness. Now the sharing of meditation no longer arises from an attitude of being a meditation teacher, but from my guts, from a deep-lived experience.

Six months later I help Meera in the Art Therapy Training in India. I mix the paint, rub the floor, help the participants with what they need and participate in ‘painting myself’.

Then, one year later, suddenly the news of the death of Meera reaches me. She has died in a diving accident; she has become one with the ocean of life – the lively ocean, about which she talked so much and which she lived. I can hardly believe it and know at the same time: Meera will always remain; dancing and sparkling. She is everywhere now. The people who have always worked with her, continue her trainings in Poona and in many other places in the world. The program you will find on her website: meera.de

Thank you Meera!

Excerpt from ‘Depression: A Stepping Stone Towards Bliss’ by Modita van Zummeren.

On Sunday, 6th January 2019 from 15:30 til 17:00, there will be an interactive book presentation of the book at Dario’s Restaurant (entrance in Sunderban Hotel lane, next to the Osho International Meditation Resort, Pune).

Modita is a (non-practising) doctor of medicine and since 1995 facilitates meditation courses, meditative therapies, silent meditation weekends in Nature and Family Constellation.

Review and interview of author by Lysan van Winden
‘Depression: A Stepping Stone Towards Bliss’

Available as paperback and Kindle from amazon.com – amazon.co.uk – amazon.deamazon.in – and in your country

Dutch original available from bol.com

First part of the same chapter
The Turning Point in my Depression – The first part of chapter 5 from Modita’s newly released book, ‘Depression: A Stepping Stone Towards Bliss’, talks about Schema Therapy, Social Isolation, and Entanglement

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