Stopping for Color

Painting by: Maria Hakasalo

How about stopping for a while and sensing what this picture gives to you?

Drawing and painting were a big thing in my life until it came to a stop three years ago. I could not cope when there was so much to do at the same time, such as studying creative writing and becoming a certified focusing teacher. The yearning woke up a few months ago. I picked up my acrylic painting tools – and noticed how it didn’t inspire me.

A couple of days ago, I found alcohol inks. What I like most about these slightly cloudy works is that I used a somewhat thicker paper that is different from the synthetic paper commonly used with alcohol inks. The thicker paper is an excellent support for color printing. It fits into my current mood.

Maybe you would like to try what I did: Look at a picture and, at the same time, feel the support that the chair and floor are giving to you. Let your gaze move around the image while feeling which colors or spots are attracting or resonating in you for some reason. When you see and feel it, stop and say with gentleness and beautiful curiosity that you want to sense and hear what it wants to give to you. You may wish to close your eyes if it feels right and ask yourself this question: What do I want to give myself at this point in my life, right now? Give it time, don’t hurry. You may begin to feel something in your body. Let it feel. If something pops up for you, greet it kindly and check if it seems to match the picture in any way. If so, you may feel that something is happening to you. A word, image, or movement might open up to you? Maybe it’s something you need today? Perhaps you can welcome it into your life?

When looking at the picture of my painting, I noticed how the white in the painting resonated in me. For me, the white place where there is no color, only pure paper, helped me accept the state of not knowing. I am there right now, and so many of us are. My loved ones are on another side of the sea, not knowing if they can come back from their holiday. The flights may not operate when so many of the flights cannot leave.

Just pure paper with no color yet, and I don’t know what its fate would be. It felt comforting to be with, and I started to feel more peaceful and tender.

Mitä jos pysähtyisit ja katsoisit, mitä tämä kuva avaa sinulle?

Piirtäminen ja maalaaminen on ollut iso asia elämässäni, kunnes kolme vuotta sitten siihen tuli stoppi. En vain jaksanut, kun samaan aikaan oli paljon muutakin, kuten kirjoittamisen ja fokusoinnin ohjauksen opiskelua. Kaipaus heräsi muutama kuukausi sitten. Keräilin akryylimaalausvälineitäni esille. Mutta ei se napannut.

Viikonloppuna löysin alkoholimusteet. Eniten pidän näistä hieman sameista, huokoiselle paperille tehdyistä kokeiluista. Sopii tämänhetkiseen tunnelmaani.

Kun valitsin valokuvaan tämän rajauksen, en tiennyt, miksi työn valkoinen, väritön osa oli siinä niin tärkeä.

Haluaisitko sinä kokeilla samaa, minkä minä tein: Katso kuvaa ihan rauhassa ja tunne samalla tuki, minkä tuoli ja lattia antavat sinulle. Anna katseesi liikkua kuvassa ja tunnustele, mikä väreistä tai kohdista vetää sinua puoleensa. Kun huomaat sen, pysähdy ja lempeästi ja kauniilla uteliaisuudella ikäänkuin kuuntele, mitä se haluaa sinulle kertoa tai avata. Voit halutessasi sulkea silmät, jos se tuntuu paremmalta ja antaa tämän kysymyksen asettua sinuun: mitähän tämä kohta haluaa antaa minulle juuri nyt? Anna sille aikaa, älä kiirehdi. Saatat alkaa tuntea jotain kehossasi. Anna sen tuntua. Jos jotain avautuu sinulle, tervehdi sitä ystävällisesti ja tarkista, tuntuuko se yhteensopivalta valitsemasi kuvan kohdan/värin kanssa. Ehkä jokin sana, kuva tai liike avautuu sinulle? Saatat tuntea, että jotain sinussa tapahtuu. Ehkä se on jotain, mitä tarvitset juuri tänään?

Valkoinen kohta auttoi minua hyväksymään ei-tietämisen tilan, jossa tällä hetkellä olen, ja niin moni meistä on. Läheiseni kaukana lomamatkalla, enkä tiedä, pääsevätkö he lentämään takaisin, kun niin moni lento on peruttu. Pelkkä puhdas paperi, jossa ei ole vielä väriä enkä voi tietää, millä tavoin se täyttyy, auttaa minua olemaan tässä hetkessä. Jokin minussa rauhoittuu ja pehmenee.

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Una lettera dal nord Italia–Letter from Northern Italy

See English Translation at the end of Italian version.

Oggi qualcosa in me è profondamente scosso e triste. Sto facendo colazione e piango …piango per tutte quelle persone che non ce l’hanno fatta, che sono morte sole, anziane e non, isolate in ospedale perché nessuno poteva avvicinarsi alle zone dei contagiati.

Mi ha molto colpito la vicenda di una nonnina di più di 90 anni , che già era in ospedale, a cui il Covid-19 ha dato il colpo di grazia. Voleva tanto salutare la famiglia per un ultima volta, prima di andarsene , ma non le è stato concesso…una voce in me dice : “No!!!Non è possibile….sarà vero?”

E poi piango per la paura, che come un’ombra scura, si è insinuata nella vita di tanti e anche per l’incoscienza di chi invece non ha esitato a fuggire portando un possibile contagio dal Nord al Sud , dove le strutture ospedaliere sono ancora più bisognose che al Nord.

E infine piango per l mia piccola Confort Zone che, nello spazio di pochi giorni, è stata spazzata via. Qualcuno ieri, alla televisione, ha detto che noi qui in Europa siamo una generazione con la vita tutta “in discesa”. In parte è certamente vero se ci paragoniamo alle generazioni precedenti che hanno dovuto affrontare la guerra e l’Olocausto. E’ vero anche che si tratta di una generalizzazione perché ognuno deve affrontare i propri dolori e le difficoltà della vita anche in un periodo di pace…

Devo andare indietro fino agli anni’70 e all’Austerity per ricordare un paesaggio così “desertico”. Io faccio colazione davanti ad una grande finestra e, in lontananza, c’è una strada che unisce la mia città a Torino…questa mattina posso contare le auto che passano ad una ad una e sento diffondersi un silenzio irreale.

L’immagine dell’Austerity di 50 anni fa mi arriva come associazione ma sento anche quanto quel periodo, ed io con esso, fossimo diversi da adesso. Allora avevo 20 anni ed eravamo sì senz’auto , ma liberi di andare in bicicletta o a piedi e per noi ragazzi era un occasione per trovarci in grandi gruppi e fare gite. Questo ricordo mi aiuta di più a comprendere i giovani di ora che faticano ad accettare ciò che viene richiesto…stare chiusi in casa. .

Questo antico ricordo e come mi sentivo libera e allegra, felice di pedalare è qui, presente nella totalità del mio essere e stride con il presente.

So che una piccola, o grande, parte di me sta piangendo perché le sue abitudini, che sono anche sicurezze, sono state spazzate via e sento anche un qualcos’altro in me che vorrebbe giudicare, che mentalmente elenca tutte le Grandi Anime che hanno fatto fronte a situazioni molto dure e ne hanno fatto un’occasione di trasformazione per sé e spesso per gli altri, Faccio spazio anche a questa voce di sottofondo che elenca Assagioli, il mio primo”Maestro”, Mandela, Ghandi, Madre Teresa….ma molto di me in questo momento si sente una “piccola anima” di fronte ad una sfida grande e allora do spazio anche alle lacrime per quella parte di me che si sente persa e spaventata , che vorrebbe tanto fare una passeggiata con la sua migliore amica ma sa che è meglio lasciar perdere…

Non è facile, ci vuole veramente un grande spazio per contenere tutto e mettere tutto alla “giusta distanza” ma, lentamente sento che il mio dolore si sta calmando e mi affiorano i messaggi dei colleghi Focalizzatori , degli amici, dei gruppi di ascolto ed empatia che stiamo formando in Italia , unendoci localmente ma anche da zona a zona, fra il Nord e il Sud e vedo le risorse e anche la fiducia e mi sento meglio.

Il mio gatto ha sentito tutto questo tumulto interiore ed è venuto ad acciambellarsi accanto a me. Mi guarda e lo sento presente, discreto , qui con me , come avviene nel Focusing … ora posso affrontare questa nuova giornata.

A Letter from Northern Italy

Today something in me is deeply shaken and sad.

It’s breakfast time, and I am crying. I cry for all those people who didn’t survive, who died alone, old or not, isolated in the hospital because no one could enter the ward where contagious people are.

I have been very touched by the story of a 90-year-old grandmother who was already in the hospital, and to whom Covid-19 gave the final blow. She longed to say goodbye to her family before leaving, but it was not permitted. A voice inside me says.” No, it’s not possible. Are you sure it is true?”

Then I cry for Fear, which, like a dark shadow, has crept into the life of many people. I grieve the irresponsibility of those who ran south in the middle of the night from the northern infectious zones. They exhibited no hesitation that they might bring the contagion to areas where hospitals are very far from the excellent quality of Milan’s and where there are many old people–their grandmothers or grandfathers perhaps.

And finally, I cry for my small Comfort Zone swept away in a few days. Yesterday somebody said on TV that we are a generation whose life has been all “downhill.” Compared to the previous generation who had to face wars and The Holocaust, this is undoubtedly true. It is also true that everyone has to meet their difficulties and pains in life, even in times of peace.

I go back to the seventies and to the Austerity period to see such a “desert” landscape. I have my breakfast in front of a large window where, in the distance, I can see a road going from my town to Turin. This morning I can count the cars one by one, and I feel a creeping, unreal, and heavy silence all around.

The times and I were very different fifty years ago when Austerity came to visit us! I was twenty years old and, even if we could not go around by car anymore, we were free to walk or ride a bicycle, and we were happy to meet in large groups and organize trips to the countryside. This memory helps me to better understand young people who are now finding it hard to accept and respect the New Rule. Stay at home and don’t meet other people outside your own family.

I hold space for this old memory of how free and happy I was to ride my bike among my friends. I am here now, present to the whole of myself, and it crashes into the current reality.

I am aware that a little, or a large, part of me, is crying for its routines, and certainties swept away so suddenly. I also sense something else in me that is trying to judge this. Something that, mentally, is counting on all the Great Souls who lived through tough situations and transformed them into a path of light and growth for themselves and, often, for many other people. I make space for this voice in the background enumerating Assagioli, my first “Master,” Mandela, Mother Teresa, Gandhi. There is something in me; however, a lot of me, feeling a pure “Little Soul” facing a big challenge and so I give plenty of space to that part of me frightened and lost, a part longing for a walk in the countryside with her best friend but aware that it is better not to do it now.

It is not so easy. I need a lot of space to hold everything this morning and keep it at the “right distance” but, slowly. I feel my pain is melting away, and messages from my friends and fellow Focusers come to my mind. I know that Listening and Empathy Groups are gathering all around Italy. They link North to South awakening Resources and Trust.

Now I feel better.

My cat felt all this interior turmoil and came to curl up near me. He looks at me, and I feel he is present near me in an unobtrusive way, as we do in Focusing. Now I can go and live a new day.

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