Weeping Wolves and Stubborn Bulls: Stream Draw Your Way to Forgiveness
by Elaine Clayton
Have you ever had, or are you currently having a hard time forgiving someone? It is a common theme in most of our lives. We often remember what hurt us far more than what made us feel good. It is normal to be just going through your day, and suddenly a painful memory of the past wafts into your mind. “He did that, she said this, they did all these things…” your mind says, sending alarms through your nervous system as if what happened was happening still, even if the event happened decades ago. Now, if you’re in a situation where you’re currently being mistreated, this calls for decisive action to make change. But sometimes the unacceptable deeds happened long ago and we are not present for them any longer, yet the pain still feels keenly immediate.
Perpetrations done unto you that will not mentally go away, or a more recent experience so hurtful that you just can’t get beyond it truly are burdens. If there is some person or act you endured that you cannot let go of (or it won’t let go of you) here is a stream drawing meditation I did for myself on forgiveness, that might help. And this is an invitation for you to do your own stream drawing meditation to receive insight that may change your perspective and relieve you of the stress and toxic emotion associated.
Stream drawing is a creative-meditation process, is universal and multidimensional. There are hundreds of ways to perceive the imagery, and countless ways they speak to us. They inform us intuitively, opening our empathic and spiritual sensing. If you haven’t forgiven someone, your rationale and logical mind has been working well for you (you know what went wrong and who’s fault it is!) so now its time to let the transcendent and mystical aspect of you as a creative, spiritual being emerge to give you a shift. You might say, “I don’t want to forgive, they don’t deserve it,” and that is your choice, however if you feel harmed, upset or easily triggered by what happened, won’t you feel better not to have to soak in that negative emotion?
Stream Drawing on Forgiveness: After closing my eyes and using my non-dominant hand to create the free-style drawing, I opened my eyes, gazed at it and trusted what came. I spent time intuitively open so as to discover the meaning, which flowed directly from my mark-making into my mind and heart. I had to be playful and expressive (like a child) and then receive with depth, knowing that the relief I seek is available upon request if I open to it (like the “new me”).
Weeping Wolf: The first thing I saw was a weeping wolf, facing left, or the past. I noticed how I sometimes don’t forgive a person who may have done a bad thing long ago— and this wolf (symbolizing “teacher” in Native American animal wisdom) reminds me that if I only face the past I cannot move forward. The wolf is reminding me that whatever happened holds something important to teach me and when I am ready to accept what that is, I will be able to move forward without carrying toxic emotions anymore.
Diligent Penguin: Below the weeping wolf I perceived a forward-facing penguin. Penguin males take action by protecting the eggs before they hatch. This spoke to me on many levels, parenting especially. Mistakes made in parenting can hang with us for our entire lives, these are often the most complex to forgive, but that pain can define us and our concept of ourselves. (Understanding is part of growth, and forgiving is part of no longer being subject to those unpleasant components life offered up). This papa penguin faces forward, protecting an egg, suggesting to me to be responsible to all the gleaming possibilities in my life, to diligently take action protecting what new positives I may create and to move forward with optimism. How can I do that if I’m still feeling misery? I can take action to forgive if I want to be free of the painful residue of emotions. We do have what we hold onto. This penguin holds fast to life anew.
Shoe and Banana Peel: To the far left, I saw a shoe with a banana peel. Since the shoe is facing past perspective, I ponder that we may indeed incarnate into life to correct past life mistakes, to experience some of what we need to in order to truly learn about a specific theme. It may simply be that we live earth life to experience a range of difficulties and joys and to process them. We know that we can’t feel happy if our emotional and mental energy is still holding onto thoughts of having been done wrong. The banana peel made me think of “slipping” and I do not want to “slip up” anymore, I want to learn and progress and have some fun in life. What if I admit I have slipped up, too? Does it soften my attitude toward others who have wronged me? Can I forgive myself? Would I like others to forgive me?
Teardrop and Upside Down Heart: This little image was easy for me to get—it meant that we have strong emotional ties with people and love does often seem confusing. That is normal to feel hurt, confused--- especially when we trusted and loved someone. Also, our desire to be accepted in general is threatened when a form of rejection is felt through some act of perceived dishonor or betrayal. This part of the stream drawing acknowledges that it is normal to have such feelings. Crying is part of processing and healing. But for how long do I want to shed tears?
Ram and Bull: I saw a ram (symbolizing sacrifice) and a bull (symbolizing stubbornness) and they spoke to me like this: Who is worthy of and/or what situation is worthy of my making a sacrifice? We do often sacrifice what we want or desire and often we feel unappreciated for it. We do get to ask what is worth sacrificing ourselves for? I ask myself, do I wish to sacrifice my future and general wellbeing by hanging on to refusal to forgive another? And the bull reminds me that I can be stubborn. It is I who willfully often chooses not to forgive. (I once had to say a forgiveness prayer several times a day for a year before I began to actually feel the forgiveness—it is hard to even get ready to forgive). It is my choice to open to forgiveness or to refuse it entirely. Does that choice serve me well or ground me heavily into a state of unchangeability?
Comforting Angel: I saw a third eye at the crown of one perspective, a past-facing sad person (heavy-headed, cast downward) and a forward-facing optimistic person (looking upward). In between them is an angel. The angel comforts the self which is not ready to forgive. There is no rule about when to forgive. Carrying the weight of sad or afflicting memories is exactly that—a lot of sorrow to hold. And this angel soothes it until, at last, I face myself forward-- with a prominent 3 rd eye. Forgiving helps us see and sense more deeply and delivers a feeling inside that can only be described as transcendence. It is a lighter, happier, “anything good is possible” aspect of self, a perspective that opens me to the future world, and for all things good. This image helped me welcome new life experiences, with direct boldness. And you know what, since I have learned so much about what has harmed me, I will not likely choose to subject myself to more of the same and my feelings about it all are my guide. I know life will cause pain, someone will fail me or something will be unfair, but as I embody forgiveness, I truly do allow just as many, if not more, really great experiences to develop in my life.
One last image is that of a person holding a #2 like a pink ribbon. Our most subtle choices either tie us up or free us. For me the #2 represents grace. It looks like a swan. A swan works hard with its webbed feet under the surface of the water (consciousness), but how majestic and lovely the swan glides above it. Life experiences are true hard work at times and forgiveness even more so—tough paddling that is! Gliding with grace is possible, though. Grace is a state of conscious awareness, a presence of being which is not belabored or owned by the life of causality. There is “if this, then that” karma—what I do to others I will get back in some form, to be sure. We often think that people “deserve to get what is coming to them,” yet if I forgive others and do not rejoice in their “getting what they deserve” then so too am I free of the same harshest karma when I err. Do I choose retribution or grace? For a while I may need to feel vengeance. For a time, I may need to weep and wail. I have done so, and the misery was enormous. After a lot of suffering, I decided to try and practice the art of forgiveness, to feel healed. Grace is a gift I give myself . Forgiveness is not done for the other person, it is done for my me, for my own wellbeing.
To learn to stream draw, get MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing/Elaine Clayton/Beyone Words Simon and Schuster. You can reach Elaine Clayton at elaineclayton.com
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