by Kylea Taylor
Edited and posted by Alysson Troffer, The Inner Door Editor, InnerDoor (at) ahbi.org
What Seena Frost was doing with collage had power and importance, but I wonder if I would have recognized that if I hadn’t had so much experience with Holotropic Breathwork.
When my husband Jim and I, attending Seena’s home workshop in 1998, had happily collaged some 5” by 8” mat board cards, Seena suggested we hold them up in turn. I had had right-brain fun all day, looking through magazines, finding images that grabbed me, tearing out the pages (oh joy, “destruction” as well as creation!), and then cutting around those images carefully. At last, I glued them down on a background with other images that fit the energy of the card. I was feeling completely satisfied. Now, Seena was asking us to speak from the image on the new card, using her signature prompt, “I Am One Who….” (See current photo of Seena Frost at right.)
I got it. It was art, it was fun, but this process that Jim later named “SoulCollage®” was also deep and powerful gestalt. When our images jumped out at us from the magazine pages, we knew there was a reason. Now, we discovered their gift. We could inhabit, embody the images, feel the emotions, speak from the energy of a card. I could just hear Stan Grof (who, for all you astrologers, was born just seven months before Seena) bending over the person on the mat saying, with soft intensity and psychiatric authority, “Become the energy! Really become it now!”
There are two parts to SoulCollage®. One is making the cards; the other is “reading” and using the cards. Suzie Wolfer, a SoulCollage® Trainer, said, “making a SoulCollage® card and not reading from it is like making a beautiful, delicious meal and not eating it.” Both making and reading the cards are relevant and complementary to deep experiential work like Holotropic Breathwork. Just as the group sharing after breathwork begins the integration of non-ordinary reality with ordinary reality and community, so too the “I Am One Who…” process integrates the right-brained art-making with practicality. The cards not only introduce themselves as members of our psyche; they are ready to share their wisdom with us in the context of community.
How Does SoulCollage® Work with Holotropic Breathwork?
Mandala drawing or painting is wonderful. It is also great to have options for expression after breathwork, and SoulCollage® might be a good addition to the materials available. One man who does breathwork regularly and also uses collage to express his sessions begs facilitators to have sufficient images and a diversity of magazines because, as he reminds us, there can be many experiences in the Grof cartography to depict. The images one finds don’t have to be the exact representation of one’s breathwork visuals to have meaning, but they do need to be of the same tone, intensity, or quality of that experience. Some people do a mandala and also create one or more SoulCollage® cards later from their breathwork experience. (To the left is a SoulCollage® card by Dori King, entitled "The Worrier King.")
Unlike many mandalas that are added to a pile in the closet and only brought out occasionally, SoulCollage® cards beg to be shown to others and used in readings. You ask questions that are important to you and, using the “I Am One Who…” prompt, give the cards a chance to share their own perspectives as “they speak” to answer you in a reading. In this way, a breathwork experience can be “drawn” in a reading and provide its wisdom again and again, always in a way relevant to the present moment’s question.
Just Like Holotropic Breathwork, SoulCollage® Has a Few Principles
1. SoulCollage® cards are for personal use only.We do not sell, trade or barter, or copy our cards and in this way honor the artists and photographers whose images make transformation possible. (To the right is a SoulCollage® card by Jeri Bodemar, entitled "Kuan Yin.")
2. People only read cards for themselves. No one reads SoulCollage® cards for others as they might do with tarot. The purpose of this principle is to empower the Inner Healer, the unique inner wisdom, of each person.
3. There is only one energy per card, and every card in the suits holds both light and shadow.
4. A SoulCollage® deck contains both aspects of creation: the One and the Many. The One is represented by one card each for Source, Witness, and SoulEssence. All other cards represent the Many and will fit into one of the four suits of SoulCollage®:
The tools needed for SoulCollage® are few. It is wonderful that such a deep and useful process can be so simple, economical, and accessible. Because these cards can be used often and for a long time, it is important to use quality materials from the beginning. Archival quality glue, good sharp scissors for careful cutting, and high-quality mat boards (usually 5 inches by 8 inches) will help people start, and keep adding to, a deck of cards they can be proud of. Add a big stack of diverse magazines with evocative images, and your journey with SoulCollage® can begin.
Related article: Karey Pohn's, Treat Yourself to the SoulCollage® Training
Kylea Taylor, M.S., has been a senior trainer for Grof Transpersonal Training (GTT) and served as editor of The Inner Door for 17 years. She wrote The Breathwork Experience, Considering Holotropic Breathwork™, and The Ethics of Caring. She also edited Exploring Holotropic Breathwork™. Kylea and Jim Schofield published Seena Frost’s book, SoulCollage® Evolving. They manage SoulCollage Inc., which has trained almost 1,400 SoulCollage® facilitators in 26 countries as of June 2012.
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