I have spoken about parts of self as a model in dramatherapy to explore inner conflicts and different aspects of our personalities. When introducing this to a group, if the set up allows, my preferred method is to set up a labyrinth.
Having been trained in the ritual theatre model of dramatherapy, with it’s focus on drama’s oldest roots into religious rites of passage, ceremony and community bonds, I am interested in how drama and theatre can help us connect to and express our inner truths.
The labyrinth is a circular maze, sometimes refereed to as a brain shaped maze. It may be one continuous path or there may be dead ends. Often, to get to the centre you need to take the path which appears to lead furthest away from your destination.
I worked with one group which had access to two rooms. Usually we used one carpeted room for most of the group work, only occasionally using the larger room for some games. On this occasion, before the group arrived I set up the labyrinth in the second room, marking the path using chairs, tables and the walls.
Along the root I lay out small toys, miniature figures, sensory objects, stones, shells, postcards and therapy cards. I dimmed the lights to an ambience so that the objects could be seen without being over-lit. Were I to repeat I think I might also add ambient instrumental music and possibly a scented candle to add other senses to the journey.
I returned to the main room before the group arrived and we began the session in our usual way. After the introduction I told the group we would be working with parts of ourselves. I shared the IFS model which I have written about previously on this blog, I invited the group to go to the other room one by one and to find about 6 parts of themselves; they were encouraged not to interact but to find the objects or images which called to them.
They completed their circumambulation (to walk around ceremonially) in mostly silent contemplation. Some objects and images jumped out for them immediately, some were more considered.
Once they had found their parts they brought them back to the carpeted room and had some time to arrange them in relation to each other.
Introducing parts work in this way is a connecting to our deep spiritual selves. It is a quest into our own psyche, bringing out the parts of ourselves which we may have lost connection with as well as the parts who are often in the driving seat.
I am reminded back to Robert Landy’s keynote speech at BADth’s 2018 conference which looked at the oroborus circular snake:
this particular image of the Ouroboros appeared on a single sheet of papyrus in the 6th century AD, so 600 years later. It was created by a woman thought to be the first alchemist in the Western world; she was called Cleopatra the alchemist.
She lived initially in Egypt then she emigrated to Greece. Interesting you see, as in the Yin-Yang, you see a black section with a circle of white for the eye and a white section with circles of black. And in the centre in ancient Greek are three words “One is All”Robert Landy, 2018, Conference of the British Association of Dramatherapists
For me this is an important element of parts of self. The parts may be in conflict, they may be trying to devour each other or one part may be leading the others, but collectively these sides of ourselves are all parts of the one self.
So the task on entering the labyrinth is to find my parts, to gather them from the different parts of the maze, to bring them together and then to arrange them. These parts are the characters of the journey we are about to commence. They bring the knowledge of their journey into the maze and perhaps that knowledge can lead us further in our quest for fullness and inner healing.
To finish with a quote from Jung