Hungry Philosopher and Starving Artists


( you are good at that my artist and creative friends),

you walk into my counseling office.

You seat yourself in a red mid-century modern chair. No arm rests. You fold your hands on your lap and notice that you are sitting upright. You allow yourself to lean into the back support. You look around for clues to what might happen next: the white board, the desk, the pens, the walls, me across from you. Your eyes rest on the rug under your feet. I ask you…..

How do you feel about your art?

You are most welcome to share your thoughts in the comments below or just hold them gently in your heart.

Hungry philosophers and starving artists are always looking to fill themselves with meaning and beauty. How do you endure the uncertain tide of human feelings, starting with your own? How do you allow as Betye Saar says “creative grieving”?

Artist Betye Saar with a background that includes social work and design, my hero, talks about risking ridicule in efforts to raise universal consciousness and in dealing with personal emotions. I wonder how she would answer my soft question. In a way it maybe easier to talk about the role of art for society than the role of art for you or your relationship to your own art.

“I think the chanciest thing is to put spirituality in art,” Ms. Saar says as she gently shifts elements of the assemblage around, trying this combination and that. “Because people don’t understand it. Writers don’t know what to do with it. They’re scared of it, so they ignore it. But if there’s going to be any universal consciousness-raising, you have to deal with it, even though people will ridicule you.”

“And you have to deal with personal emotions, because they’re there,” she added. “I think people are afraid of those too. My younger sister’s husband died this year. I said to her, you’ve got to start making something beautiful. Beauty is a form of spirituality. Once you start making something with your hands, the healing starts. I call this creative grieving.”

– Betye Saar

The Gift of Grief Recovery

Last weekend I had the joy of attending a certification training for the Grief Recovery Method.  What a gift! I have to admit that I stepped into the training with trepidation and a healthy dose of skepticism. As a philosopher, I worried that the training would be a trite appeal to non-discursive subjective feelings. As a yoga instructor, I worried that it would deny the grief harbored in the body and become a cerebral lecture. My worries were unfounded.

The 12 and 8-week group programs and the individual 7-week program (among others) that made up our training, focused on a sequence of questions and actions that were individually addressed and then shared. There was attention to systemic progression, individual exploration, and small group communication. The focus on giving voice to specific and embodied experiences of grief through visual, verbal and performative expression protects the process from abstraction. The role of the facilitator is just that. No lectures, no advice, no judgments. Similarly, small group partners are asked to be “soft hearts with ears” and to refrain from verbally reacting. We were all there to simply listen, to others and most importantly to ourselves (much like a yoga practice). The logo of a heart in a speech bubble is exactly what the program offers.

I am thankful to have made 11 new friends who have listened to my heart and look forward to sharing the program and learning more as a newly certified grief recovery specialist.

May we listen to our hearts,






Goose grief and love instincts


The first response to the disapperance of the partner consists in the anxious attempt to find him again. The goose moves about restlessly by day and night, flying great distances and visiting places where the partner might be found, uttering all the time the pentratrating trisyllable long-distance call…..the searching expeditions are extended farther and farther and quite often the searcher gets lost, or succumbs to an accident….All the objective observable characteristics of the goose’s behavior on loosing its mate are roughly identical with human grief.

William Worden in Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy quotes the work of ethnologist Konrad Lorenz above. It describes the biological crisis associated with loss beyond rational and emotional articulation.

Yoga and meditation may address such non-verbal and primal instinct through breath and body awareness.  It may help ease that biological need to keep searching outside ourselves for our loved ones.

I’ll keep reading.

Wishing you grounded calmness unlike the restless, anxious and lost goose,


*I didn’t have an image of geese…….but we can imagine the restless flight.