I I pay attention to how I feel around people. Sometime's there's a sense of well being, peace. Other times, there's confusion, chaos. People bring energy with them. As we are conscious, we can feel the energy within and surrounding others.
I came across the following quote by the American poet Charles Bukowski: "The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it - basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them."
When I enter my consultation office I clear my mind. I pay attention to thoughts, images, feelings regarding my patient. I listen to the energy coming from them and in the therapeutic relationship.
I remember last week a vivid image struck me as I entered into psychotherapeutic consultation with a depressed person. I saw a black bird with golden flecks and streaks of golden feathers suddenly fly by on the white screen of my mind. I wondered what this was about and how it would inform the session. The patient said, "I dreamt of a large black bird with colorful wings last night. He took me under his wing, sheltered me. I feel much better this morning."
At first, I wasn't sure about what had happened. Black birds can be an omen of death. But, this bird had golden coloring along with the black. Perhaps, the patient was still considering ending their life. But, there was more than black to the image.
I wanted to go slow, make sure we were understanding the message in this image. As we talked, we agreed that there was cause for both concern and relief. The bird was both a messenger of Asclepius, god of healing, bringing relief, and a harbinger of potential problems, the desire to no longer live.
My patient and I felt our way into the meaning of the nighttime dream and waking vision. As long as we sheltered under the wing of the symbol of the black bird, absorbed its meaning and the reality of her suffering, then there was healing, potential for freedom from the albatross of suicidal ideation and intent.
To listen to feelings around people helps us stay away from or work past oppressive darkness, so that the rarity that is freedom of soul may shelter us under its black and golden wings.