An article on mental health by me was published in the Age yesterday.
And there is a short video showing highlights from Silence from ABC Radio Vietnam.
Went to Hamburg to visit a close friend- and saw a modern day production of Siegfried- the Wagner opera from the Ring Cycle led by Simone Young. It was brilliant! The first act was set in a psychiatric hospital, the second in a railway station, the third in the library (which could be read as his mind) and the fourth in a homeless shelter. The action was set in his mind, so the dragon was his mind projecting a monster onto another homeless man. The subconscious was represented by broken windows and forest, and the conscious by the front part of the stage where the “action” took place. It blew my mind- in a good way.
It reminded me of the artistic director’s statement for “Silence” which premiers when I get back on November 11. Penelope Bartlau and Wolf Heidecker are using the set of the house as a metaphor for the self, with the ghostly apparitions as subconscious possessions. I’ve seen a few tantalising pictures on facebook of the production (it’s been developed while I’ve been in Berlin) and it looks wonderful.
I’ve been writing additions to grant applications while I’ve been here as well as redrafting and writing my own work. I’m so grateful for the time- though there is only a week left.
Yesterday I went to Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum- the concentration camp where Section Z and the death march took place. The memorial aspects were very poignant, they had put stone boxes to represent the barracks where the prisoners were kept, and the memorial section with new trees growing in it seemed hopeful. However the other aspects were horrible, I refused to go into the original prison wing which was intact because the place gave me the shudders. The concentration camp area itself was barren with no trees and was enormous. The horrors and the detail of the exhibits really drove home the genocide practised there.
I have not been able to write for the last 24 hours because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. But I will write and speak out about injustice and oppression because otherwise we are bound to let this occur again- and in some places of the world we already are.
I have been reading “Emotional Alchemy” by Tara Bennett-Goleman (yes married to the Emotional Intelligence guy Daniel Goleman) which is about Buddhism and psychotherapy. It was really inspirational. I found the part 4 where she touches on spiritual matters very resonant with where I am at the moment. She talks about mindfulness and that moment when you are fully mindful which you may recognise as “flow” when you are caught in the moment. This quicksilver time, this in between space is what I want to capture when writing. Expressing it and the joy of it to others is difficult.
My piece “Acceptance” has been accepted by Alice Pung to be in the “Growing up Asian in Australia” anthology. I’m really chuffed by this, the anthology is going to be so important in Asian Australian terms so I’m glad to be a part of it. Phillip Tang one of the writers we published in Peril is hopefully going to have his piece published on Peril put in the anthology too which is fantastic- Peril has already achieved one of its’ aims by this happening!
Alice asked me a question in a series of Q and A for the anthology about what was the most important lesson that I’ve learned (or something like that). It really set me thinking. What I came up with is that your story, experience and voice is important and valuable. It’s something that drives my work as a psychologist- and what I’d like to do if I wander down the community arts path or story therapy path (story therapy is a term I’ve just made up for today! I’ve brushed with narrative therapy and in my oodles of spare time (NOT!) I’d like to read up on using story telling in therapeutic practice).
I’m halfway through the Acceptance Commitment Therapy course. They have a concept of no-self- what they call the observing self- sort of. Some of their techniques are very similar to Buddhism, such as accepting your emotions and not judging them, and viewing them passing like clouds in the sky. But ACT differentiates itself from religious practices in that it does not prescribe which values you should aspire to- whilst Buddhism definitely does. As a result I have been thinking about my values and what I aspire to in the near and more distant future. I either want to be a Buddhist psychologist- and go into private practice, or be a practising Buddhist with psychological underpinnings. I’m actually very happy working where I am with clients and ACT is teaching me new ways of approaching things.