Working on this project made me more aware of the therapeutic value of drawing and NG in particular. Just the simple act of sitting down, slowing down, moving markers and pencils over the paper, leaving marks on paper – it all has a calming effect. Once you add in the power, depth, and insights of NG on top of the magic of drawing, the benefits and impact of this process become far greater.
As soon as I started drawing for this project, things felt like they began to shift. At first, I even refused to believe it because it seemed so obvious and straightforward. But I could not deny that things in my brain felt like they were flowing a bit smoother. Valuable insights on anger, as well as other subjects, just seemed to appear out of nowhere as I worked through this project.
For my last drawing, instead of starting with a “problem” emotion, I decided to use visualization. I drew a series of random shapes, each shape representing an attribute I wished to possess. There were “calm,” “patient,” “deliberate,” “restrained,” and others; qualities that I wanted. Here is the start of my drawing.
In a while, my lines were flowing more smoothly, and my shapes started to unify.
I connected the figures to the background by running lines to the edge of the paper. I identified and emphasized a few large shapes that felt like they wanted to be on the page. Several large concentric circles almost blended one into another.
As I was drawing, I realized that anger could be beneficial. Thinking about a few situations in my past, I saw that anger was a catalyst for change. Anger got me off my butt and got me going when otherwise, I would be stuck in the status quo. Merely having that edgy energy of discomfort inside me allowed me to harness it and use it as an instrument of change. It did not happen in every case, and often anger was wasted in stewing over something instead of taking action. Becoming aware of this made me realize that in the future, I can use anger as an agent of change more often. Instead of treating anger as a trigger to go into a rumination, I can use it as a trigger to initiate action. Anger is a powerful energy, and consciously channeling it is a game-changer.
I also saw that anger is a force that can destroy existing structures so that new ones can grow. In a physical sense, one can use anger to demolish something to build anew. Likewise, inside the brain, anger can be used to destroy unhelpful beliefs and things where I am stuck.
Finally, I also saw that anger is something that brings clarity, something beneficial, and often lacking in our confused and cluttered state of consciousness. When anger arose, and I was paying attention, there was an incredible clarity about what to do and how to move forward. Granted, this was not the usual experience, as frequently, anger led to more anger in a toxic loop. But having an awareness of the clarity anger engenders creates an opening. I can use anger to move forward resolutely. I can fearlessly jump into a task that would typically seem too challenging, or I would not have enough motivation to get it accomplished. Anger is like a machete that can help me cut through the clutter. It can clear out the junk, and allow to fearlessly move forward, even when the jungle is full of obstacles, adversaries, and threats.
I don’t have to push anger aside or fight it. I can even harness it. But I must never have it control me. It’s where I got into trouble with my son, as anger took over me so entirely that I could not seemingly do anything but rage. However, thinking back to that situation, I recall some degree of awareness of what was happening. There was always some space of calm from which I saw the events unfold. I chose to ignore that space and jump into the emotion, become the emotion, and lose all control. It did not have to happen like that. I allowed it to happen because I liked the adrenalin, and I wanted the drama, even though the final cost of this was way too high.
It’s evident to me that there is a path of freedom that doesn’t involve the seemingly inevitable loss of control. I am always separate from any upsetting event, no matter how powerful, because I can see it unfold. My thoughts and feelings, even when they are angry, don’t define me. I can see anger arise within me, but it doesn’t mean that I have to become angry. I can remain the space of calm and let the emotion subside. Spinning out of control is a choice. I allow it. Or not.
As I wrapped up the drawing, I felt a deep peace within me, a space of calm from which I saw everything unfold. This sense of being, this center, is at the very core of my nature, it’s what I am – if I choose to accept it. No thought, emotion, or event can ever disturb my clarity and peace here. Why would I ever step away from my sanctuary, no matter how great is the storm raging on the outside?