When I began studying to be a psychotherapist, I was overwhelmed with new theory and information constantly. I was often confused. Bewildered. I doubted my intelligence on a weekly basis.
I made a friend. A lovely friend. And every week I told my friend:
“I’m not going to continue. It’s too hard to juggle studying and the kids. I’ll never truly understand. I fall asleep while I’m reading. I won’t see this through. I don’t want to be a psychotherapist anyway. Do I? Do I?”
My friend didn’t answer my question. She was a good listener. A great listener in fact. She listened to me threatening to quit almost every single week. And there were many weeks. And she listened as I stood up in front of a couple of hundred people at our graduation and thanked her for listening.
One of the many things I learned that threw my brain into the tumble dryer was the Gestalt Cycle of Experience. It’s complicated. Until you simplify it. I drew a silly picture to simplify it (that works for me).
Each of us everyday are subjected to gestalts – patterns of repeat behaviour that follow a circular path. We begin by having a sensation; we become aware of the sensation; we decide to do something about it and mobilise; we move actively towards what we want; we make contact; we are satisfied (hopefully); we withdraw and move into the fertile void where we wait for the next sensation to make an appearance. Even simpler? I’m sitting at my computer; my tummy growls; I decide to go to the kitchen; I go to the kitchen; I determine the whereabouts of a Trader Joes salted caramel butter cookie; I eat it; I’m content (if I stop at one); I walk away.
The law of the cycle is that it repeats constantly in small ways (my cookie craving) and in much larger ways:
What do I want to do with my life?
Can I set a goal and reach it?
Will I write today?
Can I improve my relationships?
Will I start?
Can I finish?
Human beings are brilliantly skilled at finding ways to interrupt the cycle and stop the flow.
Think of The Fertile Void as the chill out lounge for the senses – lava lamps, bean bags, sweet burning incense. You get the picture. It’s the space where you remain receptive and open to inspiration. But some of us chill out for far too long and end up becoming dazed and spacey or so numb that the sensations are difficult to locate.
Then there are those who find it impossible to get past awareness, always aching with want but never mobilising into action.
Others are buzzing around with a manic energy, unable to make the contact they need.
Still others establish the contact, but then rush on frantically to the next moment, avoiding the opportunity to feel satisfied.
There are so many ways to stop the flow.
Where does your cycle get interrupted? Think about the mini gestalts as well as the broader ones. Play with the concept. Draw your own diagram. Now think of something you would like to achieve.
Write it down. Naming it here will be further proof that you are dedicated to reaching it.
It might be something that you can achieve in an hour, a day, a week, or a year. Whatever it is, as time ticks on, notice where and how you get blocked. What keeps you from moving fluidly through? Are you contributing to the interruption? Can you get back on track?
Writing about it will help you to pin it down and keep things rolling.
Round and round we go.