By Graemme Brown, co-leader of Gestalt: The Art & Practice
For many years, I had the good fortune to attend personal development workshops led by The Haven’s co-founders, Bennet Wong and Jock McKeen. While they said many wise things, one always stood out to me: “It’s important to resolve your incomplete Gestalts.”
What? And what’s a ‘Gestalt’, anyway?
There are several definitions for the word ‘Gestalt’; The one I’m referring to here is “A form, pattern, structure or configuration; an integrated whole which is something other than a mere summation of its parts.”
In short: “A completed circle of experience.” Hmmm…still not so clear!
Perhaps the simplest, jargon-free way to translate that comment is this: Whatever unfinished business we have with people, events, even parts of our body, aspects of our mind and old beliefs about life, can have a profound impact on our relationships, health and well-being.
From a recent argument with my partner, to being angry at my body for not performing to my expectations, to things I wished I’d said to a loved one who passed away many years ago, these ‘incomplete Gestalts’ literally prevent us from moving on with our lives, essentially ‘gluing’ us to that time, place or event.
These incomplete Gestalts can also create ‘Blindspots,’ which are aspects of ourselves that remain hidden to us but are often quite visible to others. Working to complete our Gestalts brings ‘light’ to those hidden aspects, allowing us to make choices for our lives based on an increasing sense of self-awareness.
If anything we leave ‘incomplete’ is detrimental to our physical/emotional/mental/spiritual health, then how could we go about ‘completing the circle’ and experiencing a fuller, more vital life in the present?
Here’s an example:
My maternal grandfather died before I could tell him how much I appreciated his caring and support in my difficult teenage years. I experienced shame and regret that haunted me for a long time; every time I met someone that reminded me of him, these feelings would surface and I’d retreat into my own world and away from contact with men who would have made fine friends. In this sense, I was not whole and needed to reconcile this ‘fracture’ within myself if I was to move on and experience healthy relationships with other men.
OK, so what to do?
By the use of my imagination and with an experienced facilitator, I had a virtual conversation with my grandfather and got to tell him all of the things I’d wanted to say all those years. I also got to hear from him: There were tears, laughter and some straight-talk about my hesitance to speak up. This was so valuable and heart-warming: By the end of it, I experienced a feeling of lightness and buoyancy that I hadn’t known in years.
In Gestalt: The Art & Practice, my co-leader Carole and I will explore a number of aspects and forms of Gestalt in this program, all with the aim to experience completion of Gestalts, understand our place in the Gestalt of others, and employ this form in working/being with people.
For further information, please see the program description here: https://haven.ca/program/session/gestalt-art-practice-nov-4-nov-7-2018