Whenever I conduct a training session in Image Guidance, I am careful to point out both the power of the process and its potential dangers. Obviously, using imagery for brief, targeted interventions to help a coaching client gain clarity, perspective or a sense of direction is very different than a lengthy session in which someone goes back in time to confront lurking “demons.” In the first case, the brevity of the experience is itself a safety control, as is the desired outcome. In a coaching context, the client is looking towards the future and the best way to get there. Used as a therapeutic intervention, however, Image Guidance facilitates re-entry into the past where painful memories are likely to be activated. Moreover, the longer we descend into the unconscious, the more we might discover that puts us in touch with raw emotions. What a client encounters imaginatively feels only too real and it is largely the presence of the guide that allows him or her to navigate past experiences in a manner that is healing rather than devastating. At the same time, the guide closely monitors the symbolic drama through careful questioning, re-directing the imagery or bringing the client back to the present, if necessary.
I come from one of the oldest established families in Morocco, descending from a long line of lawyers, doctors, and judges. My father, like his father and grandfather before him, is a spice merchant who deals in spices from all over the world. As a little boy, I would hurry home from school to help my dad in one of his four stores in the souk. Perched high on one of the sacks of spices, I watched for thieves – for deft hands that would snatch handfuls of caraway, saffron, coriander and paprika from the open containers while my dad was talking to a customer. Eagle-eyed, I surveyed the mountains of red, yellow and brown spices, making sure that neither tourists nor street urchins would dare touch. Of course, I generously helped myself to the almonds, raisins, and pistachios – my reward for being an observant watchman!
We tend to see things in black and white, missing the in-between shades. We look at others and immediately assess whether they are friend or foe, a threat or an ally, whether they can raise us up or drag us down. If they are dressed well and come with impressive credentials, we tend to respect them; if they are scruffy and occupy a low position in society, we might not give them the time of day. We like those who are most like ourselves ("our people") and turn away from those who are seemingly different -- or else treat them as novelties and oddities in much the same way as the conquistadors displayed indigenous peoples from the New World in the courts of Europe. We also see things from our vantage point, from the perspective of what will be most convenient to us. God does not see this way.
“Well,” we might say to ourselves, smugly, “There’s no way I’m to blame for Global Warming and the rest of the world’s ills. Why! I even recycle newspaper and have stopped using plastic bags!” As long as this is our conviction, we will be poor ambassadors for the papal encyclical, Laudato Si’.' We may point the finger at BP for its contamination of the Gulf and at Shell Oil for destroying much of the Niger Delta, but then we turn a blind eye to our own squandering of energy. We may decry unfair labor practices in Third World factories, but we continue to purchase cheap clothing and electronics that have been made in the equivalent of slave labor camps. We express shock at the cruel treatment of animals in factory farms, but pile on the bacon and demand the beef! We lament the disappearance of bees and butterflies, but insist on spraying garden pests with a cocktail of Roundup and other chemicals….