The Spirit Of Therapy Blog
In counseling, we talk about people being “stretched” by their willingness to engage in an exploration of themselves. The word “stretched” indicates that two opposite ends are being pulled in two opposite directions. So, what do we mean when we talk about being stretched?
One of the premises of yoga is being able to notice pairs of opposites – both in the body and in the mind. Yogis pay attention to polarities, noticing their relationship to one another. Dialectical Behavior Therapy also helps clients notice and accept opposites, and to strive to maintain a balance between them. We label things as “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong,” “happy” and “sad,” but there is a magnetic pole between those pairs of opposites, making them dependent on one another and not mutually exclusive. Opposites can both be true at the same time. Getting a new job can be both “good” and “bad” at the same time. What is important, is noticing the relationship between the opposites, not the labels.
Trees are an excellent metaphor. A tree roots itself deep in the ground. In fact, this is the first thing it does as a seedling; it begins to explore the deep underneath. As it grows, it continues to reach downward, seeking nourishment and finding stability. If a tree does not reach down into that depth, it will die. A tree also grows upward. It spreads itself high and wide and produces incredible beauty as well as nourishment and protection for others. This tree continues its growth in opposite directions for its entire lifespan because it needs both to survive.
We, too, need this opposite growth. If we focus only on grounding and settling, we may miss out on personal growth, mystery, discovery and giving to others. If we focus only on expanding, we may lack the stability of knowing who we are and making decisions.
Where do you tend to put your time, attention and energy? What would change for you if you sought to balance yourself, to stretch, to embody the wisdom of a tree?
The Spirit of Therapy
Where psychotherapy interacts with our mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and relational wellbeing.