Embodied Imagination Use with Memory

Working with Dreams and Memories to Facilitate Therapeutic Change
October 23, 2016
Art Embodying Imagination
October 26, 2016

Embodied Imagination Use with Memory

The Last Moments with my Mother.

This is an illustration of the use of Embodied Imagination® with a memory, which is personally deeply significant and a powerful example of healing that can come from EI work with memory.

The night before my mother went into a coma and later died, I visited her. Her cancer had metastasized and gone into her bones, causing severe pain and much of her final two years she was bedridden.


Working the Memory

First I tell the memory, which at the time of the EI work was more than 30 years ago. I sit close to my mother holding her right hand as she is lying in bed. I ask her, “do you feel ready to die?” She answers, “I don’t know,” and there is a tear at the edge of her right eye.

The dreamworker and group members give their body felt responses to hearing the memory. I feel the support and containment of the group and this enables me to feel safe to explore.
Through questions, e.g. describe the room? Where is the light coming from? I enter the flashback memory and experience the sensory environment around me.

I am helped to experience the self-position, the way I am sitting and so on. As I say the words, “do you feel ready to die,” I experience my voice coming from my heart, wanting to help my mother. This is the first anchor point.

With the aid of questions from the group, I am led to carefully observe and then empathically feel into my mother, beginning with the feeling of her hand I am holding. Through mimesis I can experience her body, her mood, her sadness and some fear, in her right breast. The second anchor point.

Focusing on the tear, I watch as it transforms into a jewel, glistening, like a star sapphire. It feels very precious and has a numinous quality. This third anchor point I sense an opening in my throat and shoulders.

Holding the composite/the anchor points – in my heart wanting to help, the fear and sadness in my mother’s right breast, the glistening jewel- like tear experienced as an opening in my throat and shoulders. I feel my heart pounding and this becomes a rocking, which is calming. A light from my throat begins to envelop me. I feel slowed down, but tiredness is gone.

For many hours afterwards I felt a lot of energy, exceptionally present, very aware and alive.
Insights came over the next few days; Mum told me she had not been able to cry about having cancer for the third time, the many losses resulting from this bone cancer, the physical pain and seeing the emotional impact of this on her family. I had also been blocked, and now there was some release of this 30 year old pain and sadness locked in my body, freeing neck and shoulder tension.

I remembered this poem my mother had written a few months before she died.

Why must it end like this?
With such pain
and loss of dignity
Why must this be a Living death?
Now when I accept life’s mortality.
Is this the sting?
That I must weep?
Why not just close my eyes?
Then eternally sleep.

Perhaps the most significant impact of doing this work was an experience that pain and grief of suffering can be transformed. It seems strange but I also had a sense that doing this EI work not only helped to transform suffering in me, but also in my mother.

Although I am not a Christian, I found myself thinking about crucifixion and resurrection. In particular something my meditation teacher had said, there can be no resurrection without crucifixion.

This quote from the fellowship of friends, a group that embraces the perennial wisdom of the great spiritual traditions, is very meaningful, as I contemplate suffering and transformation.

Suffering is woven into human life on earth. We cannot avoid it; indeed, without suffering, we could not awaken. It is a joy, then, to learn that true alchemy is turning the lead of suffering into the gold of our own presence, and to discover the internal tools that make it possible.