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August 4, 2021

Touching upon the inner “Shadow”; a healing eco-art activity

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

There is something so lovely about learning a new way to heal ourselves and our lives. That is why I wanted to offer up a little story explaining ecopsychology and eco-art. Oh, and I threw in a little activity for us to try too!

What is Ecopsychology and Eco-art?

When I first learned about eco-art, I had been taking an Ecopsychology classes online. The classes described how we can heal ourselves and the planet by building more positive relationships with the natural world. Since it was a really nurturing and engaging subject it made me want to delve even further. When I took an eco-art class I got to experience the health benefits of expressing myself authentically while amidst nature. Don’t worry I’ll share an activity for you to try too!

A little background about Carl Jung and our “Shadow” before the activity:

First, I will share a teeny little bit of history about the “Shadow” so we can understand the philosophies and go even deeper into our healing. Carl Jung was one of the founding fathers of the study of psychology and he believed that we each hide parts of ourselves. These “Shadows” may include hidden feelings, desires, cravings or urges that we may have been taught to feel ashamed of. Yet, Jung felt that if we do not come to terms with the “Shadow” within ourselves we can find ourselves intentionally or inadvertently shaming this “Shadow” in others. We may also find ourselves incapable of connecting to others deeply or we may come off as shallow.

Yay, now we are ready for the “Shadow” activity:

First, let’s find a drawing pad and our favorite drawing tools. Next, since this activity is an eco-art activity, we also want to find a special outdoors space that feels welcoming. It should be a place where we feel comfortable enough to experience greater healing. For this activity it would be best to find a place that has some shady places so we can play! Now, let’s settle into nature and take a few calming breaths.  We will start by thinking of something within us that we would consider a “Shadow”. To make this even more meaningful, we will best honor ourselves if we take the time to intuitively pick the right shadow to work with today today. Once we pick our “Shadow”, let’s write down a word that describes it on the back of the top page of our art paper, so we remember later.

Now, let’s set aside our art materials and go out and play in shadows. During this short period of play, we want to encourage ourselves to experience shadows and light in as many fun ways as we can. This might mean tucking ourselves into a shady place and feeling the dark embracing us. It might also mean moving our bodies in a similar way as the shadows around us move. For example, we might see shadows of the dancing boughs of trees and mimic their dance in our own ways. Or we might imagine our shadows giving chase and engage it in a silly game. Let’s try to behave in light hearted ways and ask ourselves how much more fun we can have even more fun while we play. If we feel imaginative and creative, we can even ask nature to help teach us how to shadow play.

When we feel that our play is complete, let’s thank nature for the time and experience. Then, as we come back to our art pages and if we need help recalling the “Shadow” we picked earlier we can revisit the word we wrote on the backside of the page.  Now, ,take some time to draw what our “Shadow” would look like if it were a wild animal playing. Is it furry and round or is it tall and bendy? Is it short and tiny? Avoid placing judgement about our artistic skill, instead let us try to form a sense of what this shadow looks like.

Now, let us imagine that the creature we drew was a symbol of our inner “Shadow”. Let’s reflect on how we would respond if we came upon this “Shadow” creature in this natural place. How would we treat it? Would we shun it or embrace it? Would we let it walk a space with us or keep it in a cage? Would we punish it or try to understand it with empathy? Would we try to understand it better or would we care for it more deeply now that we saw it there before us? Would we be able to find ways to forgive? Let’s ask ourselves how things could be even better!

Added reflection questions so we can deepen this experience:

Now, if we want to reflect even deeper we can take time to journal our thoughts. How did we feel about being in nature today? Did we understand ourselves better by spending this time? Did we feel validated in our actions amidst nature? Did we feel good about the work we did and did it help us reframe our perspectives of ourselves?

Once we feel complete with this activity let’s thank nature for the time spent and thank ourselves for our courageous efforts! 🙂 Yay!

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