My teacher and mentor Melisa Pearce writes in her book, What the Heck is Gestalt?, “Gestalt is a German word loosely translated to mean “wholeness”. Fritz Perls, the psychoanalyst who coined the term Gestalt therapy, understood that we could not be truly whole if we did not know the different parts of self and their synergy in our personality. Wholeness of self in the present moment is the keystone to Gestalt.”
“Wholeness of self” means that I bring awareness and appreciation to each of my various parts of self, whether negative or positive. “In the present moment” means that I stop dwelling on the past, or fantasizing or stressing about the future. It means I choose which parts of me show up in any given moment, regardless of the situation.
So how are cacti Gestalt?
When I see the cactus in bloom, I see gestalt. For months the cacti have appeared dangerous and uninviting to me, covered in ultra sharp spines, amidst rocks and dust.
With the ranch off limits and no access to horses, I have turned to walking around the 55 and over Arizona neighborhood that I live in with Mom during the CoronaVirus Pandemic.
About two weeks ago, the shock of a cactus’ hidden beauty reminded me to find joy in what is. For a nature-girl who has spent her life exploring beaches, mountains and waterfalls, walking on sidewalks between houses never sounded like much fun. Until I came upon a sprawling cacti that I’d previously walked right past a million times, which appeared to be a weird, body-snatcher looking thing crawling out of the ground. I was astounded to see it covered in the most amazing flowers! Giant, tubular white flowers with long petals backed in maroon, each with a carpet of long yellow stamen spilling plus a hint of perfume. Bees and hummingbirds drank from its nectar.
It’s transformation was profound, life affirming and relatively quick. Pure gestalt.
Today I find joy searching for the most spectacular cacti and photographing them. Some flowers are huge, with deep tubes for pollinators to crawl down into. Some dazzle with the brightest fuchsia, orange and yellow petals, almost translucent, catching sunlight like brilliant jewels. Many have scents that waft up on a breeze, turning my head and inviting me over.
Seeing amazing blooms on previously unapproachable cacti have reminded me of myself, of my personal transformation through gestalt. I used to be like a cactus in winter; hard and spiny, with an attitude of, “Stay away!” Now I am more like the flower of a cactus, shining out brightly, not afraid to be seen. Not afraid to just BE. Before gestalt I sought invisibility and hid behind a wall of avoidance. “Should” ruled my life. My truth was locked deep inside. The hurt part of me, who usually feels like she is about eight years old, was running the show.
Gestalt has made me aware of my different parts of self; the pointy and the smooth, the beige and the colorful, the avoider and the one who joins easily. The part of me who felt trapped and could see no positive future and the part who is grateful for all that I have and who can find joy in what is. The part of me whose trauma pulled me down into negativity and despair for years and the part who fought to get out. The part of me whose emotional health lifts me up so I can see joy and possibility. The part who extends my heart and soul to others to do the same.
The transformation of the once blah-looking cactus into gorgeous elements of color, fragrance and light have reminded me of my own transformation, and of how far I have come. There is so much gratitude in that!
Gestalt is transformation. Gestalt is getting to know all of my different parts of self and deciding which one shows up when. Gestalt is a way to move from trauma to freedom. Gestalt is living in the now, noticing the beauty of what is.
Gestalt is my way of life.
I have blossomed.
I am gestalt.
I am a gestaltist.
Gestalt encourages me to ask myself these questions:
Where can I find beauty inside of this difficult time?
Where does joy show up in my life today?
Which part of me is running the show at this moment?
I invite you to ask yourself the same questions.
If you are interested in self exploration, in getting to know all of the different parts of yourself on a deeper level than you could have ever imagined, call me. Let’s chat about how I can support you to show up in your life in new ways.