Connection Across Cultures
(San Miguel De Allende, founded pre-1541)
(Couple on a junk ship at Ha Long Bay, South China Sea, Vietnam)
The Flower Girl and the Ring Bearer
Serenity in Saigon
(San Miguel D'Allende)
(Diocletian's Palace, Split, Croatia, 298 AD.)
The Fullness of Stillness
(Skirball Cultural Center, Bel Air, CA)
Serengeti, Tanzania and Kenya
Bora Bora, Tahiti
Oldest temple in Europe - Prague
Yellowstone National Park is one of the world's most threatening hot spots for volcanic activity with an unimaginably destructive reach. The tranquility of the pastoral landscapes with grazing bison contrasted with this reality. The oozing, boiling pools of liquid emanating vapors with rainbow colors at the earth's surface stirred fears and wonder. Unconscious emotional currents also move beneath the surface of a human being and must "let off steam" to resolve themselves. We must experience emotions and find their meanings to allow transformation and healing.
I felt drawn to the penetrating gaze, brilliant smile, and graceful carriage of this stunning Maasai tribal woman. Despite vast cultural differences, this moment of electric connection remains in my memory forever. Her state of beingness and openness to relationship reminded me of the grounding in oneself that we seek to awaken in the therapeutic process.
We had left the dark, cavernous room with narrow slats in the high ceiling where enslaved people and refugees were held. I felt the pain of humankind in the scribblings on the walls, echoing through the ages. Suddenly we stepped into the bright vestibule, and my spirits lifted. The stunning dome commanded my eyes upwards, allowing me to glimpse the Bell Tower bathed in a brilliant blue sky. Photography and psychotherapy beckon me for similar reasons. Both can create a passageway from darkness to light and aloneness to communion.
Something pulled me down a side street where this enchanting doorway came into sight. We never know where our exploratory instincts will lead. The door was ajar and invited me to gaze into its garden interior. The palette of colors, textures, artistry, and trusting openness of this entrance charmed me. Likewise, I hope that those in my care discover their internal beauty along with the freedom and safety to invite trustworthy others to come closer.
I poised my camera on a deserted deck while cruising to capture the colorful junk, a type of Chinese sailing ship with fully battened sails. The vessel passed at a far distance through the surreal limestone formations jutting out of the South China Sea. After returning home, I eagerly surveyed my photos, and two dark figures on the junk's deck startled me. I zoomed in, and there they were! Like in psychotherapy, it's amazing what we see when we look closely!!
I do not know these children, and they do not know a stranger watches them with pleasure from a third-story balcony overlooking a beautiful chapel where the wedding party has gathered. The flower girl commanded my attention, perhaps because I was drawn to her exuberance. Possibly her older brother balances the rings carefully on a pillow with a consummate sense of responsibility. What does he feel as he eyes the flower child with a sense of brotherly care? In time, his sister may sadly form restraints, but for now, she is free.
The veins of the lily pads in the pond outside our DEFT classroom at the Skirball Cultural Center flow with colors. Their tranquil beauty inspires and quiets me each time I go there to train. As our group assembles, I feel activation in my body. When the violinist tightens the strings of the instrument to produce the right pitch, we call it fine-tuning. Something similar happens inside my body when it begins readying to attune to another human being, either a client or trainee. The heightened state of mental and emotional alertness produces physiological sensations. The lily pond reminds me to be still and become receptive.
A graceful person sits alone on a small bench in the middle of a gritty sidewalk framed by graffiti and garbage. Several lanes of fuming motorbikes roar their engines at a stoplight immediately adjacent. My therapist's eye seeks the facial expression that will tell me something about this exotic stranger who manages equanimity amid chaos. However, a handkerchief and an nón lá (a leaf hat traced back 3000 years in Vietnamese history) conceal the face.
The person's anonymity invites my mind's free associations. If I see isolation or impoverishment, it is my projection. I prefer to witness the human capacity to focus the mind where one pleases, create one's inner world, and pursue one's desires regardless of distractions and the hard edges of reality. I am fascinated and inspired.
The patterns surrounding this bright blue door on a deserted side street reminded me of a Mondrian painting. However, the entrance gave me no clue as to what lay behind its facade, which is true for some of the people who seek my psychotherapeutic help. When I see a door such as this or meet a person with walls, I hope to see what lies on the other side of the exterior.
(Opuntia Robusta - Wheel Cactus)
I was strolling with a friend on Meditation Mount, Ojai, and I lagged behind. The interesting botanicals captured my attention. I came upon some bunches of wheel cactus with amazing colors, including lavenders and pinks, that I had never seen in these plants before. I kneeled in the dirt to get closer to them and grabbed my camera. Voila! This photo emerged. The colors have been saturated to accentuate the wonder that pulled me to the ground that sunny afternoon.
Kenmare Old Townland, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Donn Warshow, Ph.D. Casco Antiguo, Panama (founded 1673)
5th Avenue, New York City
(Susan and Donn Warshow in Kenya, Africa)
Bora Bora, Tahiti
Yellowstone National Park
The photos below were selected for the juried Mirrors of the Mind Art Exhibit, celebrating its 10th anniversary and sponsored by the Los Angeles County Psychological Association. Did you know that many psychotherapists are accomplished artists? This extraordinary and widely attended annual event is the brainchild of Terry Marks Tarlow, Ph.D., and Pamela McCrory, Ph.D. Their beautifully curated shows at wonderful galleries demonstrate the impressive range of talent in the field of psychotherapy. Both therapy and art spring from the same fount of inspiration, imagination, and intuition. Susan feels honored to have been invited to submit her work.
(Venice, Italy - digital art from photo)
San Giorgio Maggiore church