Presenting Perfectly by trusting the Unconscious

I had an occasion, this evening, to do a “relax” session for a small group of six clients. This is something of an irregular engagement, and I was actually helping out another therapist who was unable to make the session.

I’ve done them before, and follow a fairly routine pattern of grounding through breathing control, followed by PMR (Progressive Muscle Relaxation), leading onto some guided visualizations. The whole collective process is couched in very gentle, hypnotic language – and can best be described as “the meal the chef might cook for himself if he wanted to chill out”.

In guiding people through this process, I say what I see, hear, feel and notice in a very loose and unscripted way – knowing (basically) what I want do, where I want to go to, and what I’d like to do when I get there. Its what I used to love about playing jazz guitar – you had the tab, but you never really knew exactly which road each performance would go down.

In this particular session I’d reached the second “subject” of guided visualization. The metaphorical landscape for this was:
You’re walking on a beach, noticing all the sensations available to walkers on a beach. Eventually you notice a canoe near the water’s edge and walk over and examine it. It just there, without paddles; and whilst it might appear to have been abandoned, it is there for a purpose. You’ve come to the beach with certain issues, problems, obstacles, burdens in your life – all carried in variety of packages, parcels, rucksacks, boxes, containers…you name it. And now seems a good time to unload all your baggage into the canoe.
And so it goes on!

The interesting thing at this point, as I was guiding these good folk to lay down their burdens not down by the riverside but in the canoe, I became aware of a fleeting thought: “What am I going to do with the canoe?” I knew where I wanted it to go…drifting out to sea and over the horizon. However, having disengaged these people from their cargo, I didn’t really want them to re-engage (or get their feet wet) by pushing the canoe off the sand into the water.

And, magically, the fleeting thought was picked up by my unconscious and a very simplistic answer was returned: “They can walk back up the beach from the water’s edge, sit down and relax and watch the incoming tide float the canoe and, through the power of breeze and current, carry it out to sea and over the horizon”.
This also presented many avenues of opportunity to draw analogies between something as naturally powerful as the tides cleansing and renewing and regenerating the beach, and people’s lives.

Only later did I notice that by trusting my unconscious and not reacting to the “fleeting thought” but rather just passing it on – that I actually came up with an even better and more meaningful solution not only for my part as guide in this journey, but also for the group and each individual’s opportunities for unconscious learnings from this process.