The metaphor of drowning has been a persistent image during my years of depression. “Drowning in possibilities.” “Drowning in the complexity of life.” “Drowning in my mistakes (the harm I’ve caused).” “Drowning in uncertainty.” Etc.
The other day, as I was doing active relaxation (focused attention on and releasing of bodily tension), the imagery changed. Rather than engage in an exhausting fight to keep my head above water, I realized I could surrender to the experience. Curious, and refusing to worry, I allowed myself (in a visualization) to relax and take that “scary” breath . . . What’s this?–I’m breathing underwater. I’m swimming gracefully in the water of self-acceptance. Nothing to prove. No fight to win. It was as if I was connected to my Higher Self–the self that doesn’t worry; that delights in each new experience; that is whole; that flows with life. Rather than inspiring a wish to retreat from life, it inspired the delightful thought that life can be truly pleasant if I slow down and breathe it in.
Slowing down isn’t something my anxious mind does easily. Relaxing into a trusting, heart-centered mode of experiencing life, however, is possible–with practice. (Consciously experiencing ourselves in a challenging situation but in an unhurried–“extra-timely” (outside time)–mode of being.)
Re-fashioning painful metaphors is a therapeutic modality championed by the late David Grove of En Zed (New Zealand). Rather than having the therapist suggest metaphors, Grove emphatically insisted that the metaphors should be produced and manipulated (changed/fashioned) by the client. He taught therapists how to use “Clean Language” that allowed for none of their personal, projected narratives to enter the sessions.
I’d love to find a therapist trained in Grovian Metaphor therapy!