Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hearing the Voice of Wolf Wisdom: Zen Leadership and Collaboration

I have several "Zen friends": those women whose spirit is a mixture of radiant intuition and creative soulfulness. Fendell and Krista are two of these friends. Four years ago, 7 of us - (including these two Zen friends I mention) - in one of my art classes, got the inclination to work on a collective art image as a response piece that was inspired by Pinkola Estes’ book, Women Who Run with the Wolves.

As the leader/facilitator of the group, I did not have any predisposed intentions about how it would turn out; I merely had faith, trust and an inner sense that the art work would not only become a finished product, (and to an art therapist, this is often secondary), the process of how 14 hands touched, worked, blended, paused, painted, collaborated, and sprinkled our creative strengths, would reveal great insight to us. And of course, it did.

The story of the wolf woman, La Loba, speaks of the transformative nature of a wild woman: “is the far-seer, she is a deep listener, she is loyal heart . . . she is the voice that says, ‘This way, this way.”

Through our painting, we chose to use symbolic imagery and story to portray La Loba. In the first image, the wolf is depicted in the lower right corner; strata of desert (dryness of life force) are adjacent on the left corner, a butterfly symbolizing the transformative process is in the upper right, and the moon as a feminine representation, is in the left center. The intention (which we discussed post-completion) of our unspoken artistic message was to convey the feeling of a fragmented female soul or spirit in search of alignment with the wolf (strength).

The magic that I believe always happens within the art therapy process is that unconscious symbols and meanings reveal themselves, in either the art process - (the actual doing of the art) - or the art work itself. Often times, it is both.

When we had finished the painting, we turned it upside down; we often do this during the stages of painting. What appeared to the group was a fragmented woman. The butterfly wings on its reverse view had become the old woman, and none of us had consciously thought to paint a woman.

Without talking, we had painted silently; never discussing who should paint what, where. Like the wolf pack, respect for space was unspoken, and a trust and faith that the creative process would lead the way was implicit.

Last week’s Coach Poppy newsletter gave voice to leadership; this newsletter does as well. There are so many ways in which we are all leaders, for we bring unique creative talents and strengths to the table, whether in the board room, the class room, or the family room. I believe it is within the quiet space of recognition where those strengths can manifest, that we really shine and grow as creative leaders and collaborators.

In yesterday’s, Art of Leadership class with high schoolers, I witnessed beautiful collaboration among the group. In drawing a visual representation to underscore and reflect our wolf leadership story, "Wisdom of Wolves," the students shared that they were touched by words which they could relate to in their own lives: “Every wolf has his own voice. Every wolf respects the voice of every other wolf.”

“The Great Spirit gave us two ears and one tongue so we can
listen twice as much as we speak.”

– Native American Proverb

Mindfully Yours,


Listening and witnessing: What can we do today, to truly listen to, and empower our co-worker, our colleague, our client, our peer, our classmate, our friend, our loved ones, our mate, our child, our friend, so that his/her strengths will be open to revelation for all to behold?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Poppy for the many sacred spaces you have and continue to create for us to honor our true selves and find ways to bring our gifts to each aspect of our lives and those who surround us. Thanks to you we ARE listening better and finding our voice to share our strengths. Lets explore more soon....