Third Step Prayer Flag – Art Therapy Group

“Enlightenment, or Nirvana, is nothing other than the state beyond all obstacles, in the same way that from the peak of a very high mountain one always sees the sun. Nirvana is not a paradise or some special place of happiness, but is in fact the condition beyond all dualistic concepts, including those of happiness and suffering”. – Namkhai Norbu.

A unique aspect of South Orange County Detox and Treatment’s individualized programming includes an art therapy group guided by program director Salina Shuler. This art therapy group is much more intense and in-depth than simple expression of feelings through art. SOCDT’s art therapy group navigates through the client’s psyche to access hidden thoughts and emotions that stunt the client from achieving their full potential and maintaining sobriety. Late Thursday evenings, clients gather around the living room as a cohesive and connected unit to begin their art projects. This Thursday, client’s created Tibetan inspired prayer flags. The clients were instructed to create images on triangular cloths representing what they need to give up to God in order to connect with their higher power.
I observe each client hovering over their flags, deep in thought, imagining how to visually represent positive affirmations, feelings and stressors that need to be given to their higher power. The drawings begin and I’m overcome with gratitude, hope and inspiration. As a therapist I tend to feel the energy of the clients. I sense empowerment, clarity and awakening. I examine the drawings of broken hearts, a puppet controlled by strings, music notes, and symbols representing ego and dishonesty. I am grateful to witness the growth, determination and strength demonstrated through this art project. At one of the most difficult times in their life, the members of the group are displaying open-mindedness, honesty, and creativity. I feel hopeful each client possesses what is necessary to fight the disease of addiction. This art therapy group allows clients to explore their connection with their higher power and raise awareness of what needs to be given up to God. Only by releasing what they tried to control for so long, will they feel peace and serenity. I feel inspired to assist these clients in developing and using their personal gifts. They all have their own special gifts. I am hopeful they will find their courage, humility and serenity.

Higher Power,
I have tried to control the uncontrollable for far too long.
I acknowledge that my life is unmanageable.
I ask for your care and guidance.
Grant me honesty, courage, humility, and serenity,
to face that which keeps me from you and others.
I give this life to you to do as you will.