Gestalt can be a difficult, though very rewarding therapy style, it is often misunderstood and the root cause is in the name. Gestalt is a German word that has no English equivalent. It refers to “Wholeness” and being in the “now”, and even gave rise to a style of speech called “Precept language”. In Precept, you wouldn’t say “I hurt my arm” because the implication is that you own the arm but it isn’t part of you, it denies emotional involvement in the whole self. In precept language you would instead say “ I hurt me in me arm” demonstrating that the arm is a part of you, it hurts and therefore you are hurt”.
Its an interesting language, though it gets very involved, and much like Esperanto, communicates little to a non speaker. The sense of “Now” however, is extremely powerful. Most people use at least a third of their energy with the past – dragging burdens behind them, feeling guilt, wondering what if, while doubting and regretting. The same people spend at least a third of their energy with the future. Worrying, anticipating, dreading, pushing that weight ahead of them. If we could see the past as reference – we learned, it is gone. If we ceased to be so concerned about the future, stopped worrying & lived for today – we save two thirds of our energy to use now – and now is the only time we can change anything in life. The past led us here, let it go – the future is for reference, let it come, we become more effective and able now. Most fear of the future is, in any case, based on past experience that we have not let go of.
When I was four years old I had my first trip to a dentist. I had been born with numerous difficulties, one of which was a calcium deficiency that left my first teeth lacking in calcium, they turned black very quickly. Because of this, they had to be painted to protect them from early decay, and there at the age of four I was being taken to have one extracted. Coming out of the dentist I apparently cried excessively, leading my Father to be annoyed and angry with me, and when finally my parents checked, they discovered that nine teeth had been extracted – not just the one. For years I was fearful of dental visits, and when my new teeth came through, they were not straight because the lack of teeth had shrunk my gums. I hated wearing a brace, and the dentist who inflicted it on me, and it was only in the 90s when I finally met a dentist I could feel a trust of. I had ceased to be a case and started to be a person. This dentist treated me well and became a friend to some extent. He retired about ten years ago, and though I have not found anyone of his calibre, through him I lost my fear. The now had defeated the past.
Imagine spending an hour with a therapist who will keep you in the now. You may not speak of the past, if you do the therapist asks you to let go of it and feel the now instead. You many not speak of your future fears for the same reason. If you can, experiment – spend just half an hour talking about your feelings now, with someone who will hold you in the now. You’ll be surprised how much fear you can let go of.