What I liked most about Aya’s counselling is the constant and pleasant sense of surprise it brings. I did a painting as she instructed, even though my painting skills are limited. It was just a swirling sea on a murky day, quite boring at first, but then somehow it felt great to paint the vastness of the ocean depths. I don’t even like the sea, but found myself thinking about past relationships and not feeling at all bad about them, just picturing them and reliving them as I layered on varied shades of dark blue paint. It was a remarkable experience, different from conventional counselling, though we talked about relationships here in a straightforward way.
Aya guided me gently, playfully. She is always accepting and you have the feeling you can say anything to her and it will be fine. As I painted a (dubious) sky, I found myself talking about the future, not in terms of far-off plans but in terms of what I wished for the next few weeks, and I’m not much of a forward planner normally. These hopes might suggest a bright blue sky but mine was grey and wild. The weeks became months and a picture emerged – through my clouds, which were really just a swirling mess – of certain habits and pursuits coming into my life. It was very easy, there was a sort of uplifting certainty to what I was saying even though I wasn’t thinking hard about anything.
I didn’t feel like I was making plans as such but discovering plans which were already there. By the time I got to drawing rocks and hills near the shoreline, I had a very clear idea about my relationship – it was great, I was lucky, and I looked forward anew to seeing my partner – and I was confident I would initiate certain patterns in my life. None of these concerned the sea in any way. One was to take up gliding again, which I hadn’t done for years. I had vaguely assumed I didn’t have time. Something just got unblocked and that assumption seemed ridiculous, even amusing. While I was painting and responding to Aya I knew that of course I had time, I have years.
I left Aya’s feeling light-hearted, which is not really in my nature. Nothing worried me and although I know bad things have happened in my past and will in my future, everything would be fine, it always is in the end. The calmness this experience visited upon me is unfathomable. I returned to replenish the feeling each week. I never saw myself as someone who worried too much – a trait I tend to observe in other people. However, it was quite shocking to sense how much I do worry, whether it’s brooding over the future or repenting the past, and it was absolutely wonderful to just put some kind of automatic break on that dreadful, pointless habit.
I can only explain this in the terms Aya offered. Playing with paint and creating a (very poor) picture took me out of the normal hurly-burly, busy-busy, modern professional mindset. It is just the London way of life, but it was illuminating to stand outside of it and see how much energy and time I squander. That sounds regretful. It wasn’t at all. It was uplifting. I felt and still feel enlightened by the sense that my life is not terribly difficult at all. Yet I had assumed it was.