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Have An ™Artchemize-ing Experience: How Art, Alchemy & Transformational Space Can Change Your Life

Intro and Interview with Yabette by Christine Donley

As an art lover and student of spirit-based healing, I’ve observed incredible personal and social transformations happening in creative spaces. As a result of these observations, I have a passion for studying transformational aesthetics, or how aesthetic experiences create powerful change in individuals and communities. Some art can create much-needed, real-world transformations, like helping people process the state of immigration in the United States or how to shift from charity to solidarity models when working with compromised communities. One thing I learned about Transformational Aesthetics is the importance of creating a transformational container that allows a person to have a new experience and try on new identities. Having safe, exploratory space and new meaning allows us to explore our own thoughts and feelings and manage the ups and downs of life from an empowered, creative place.

In the recently published “Your Brain On Art” (2023), the authors share that art and aesthetics transform our experience of life first on a biological level, then touching all aspects of our lives, with multiple, deep, positive impacts. Think of good art as powerful and nurturing to the human experience as good food, water, sleep, and sex. Scientists have now “proven” what we art lovers have always known - art and aesthetics have the ability to make our lives better, bring joy, process stress and trauma, and create healing.

™Artchemize(ing) Experience

In the following interview, Yabette discusses how transformational space, alchemy, and art are tools she uses in her ™Artchemize sessions to help her clients release and transform personal trauma, deal with difficult family dynamics, and navigate major life transitions. The following interview is a wonderful look into the art, alchemy and magic that Yabette brings to her work and into her relationship with her clients. Note: Transformational Space is a space that allows for transformation. Relationally, it’s space that is safe, open, & non-judgemental.

Tell me what happens in an ™Artchemize session.

Essentially what happens in an ™Artchemize session is the client will talk to me, usually in a Zoom session, but we also can do a phone call or in person. I have them come to me already having thought about trauma in their life that they would like to release, some of the pain they'd like to change the energy around, a pattern that they’d like to change, or grief and any other energy they would like to transform. They talk to me about what is happening in any of those scenarios, and while they're talking to me, I will paint.

Often, I don't have a clear picture of what the painting will be. I'm just picking colors and shapes and pushing them around on the canvas. As this is happening, I start to see images appear, either on the canvas or just in my mind's eye. And I start to understand where the painting is going visually. Most people speak to me for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. I always allow up to two hours for the speaking part of it just in case someone has more to say. When I feel that they've released the energy, I talk to them. By the time they've left me, they're in a new place energetically already. They've released what that pain is and they're in this place of hope and inspiration and/or healing. I get them thinking and speaking to where they'd like to be. And then that new energy is part of the alchemizing of that old energy and it also goes into the painting and it also becomes part of the integration.

You talk a lot about spirit and intuition. Etc. How long have you been working in this space?

As I came of age, my interests and study were around as many different religious beliefs as I could learn about. I found religion to be interesting but I also realized that the programming and dogma of it was not something I personally, always resonated with, and I myself had trauma around. Though I do think there's a place for religion, I like the idea that spirit doesn't need religion. And, spirit works in all religions! I delved more into the esoteric mystic. intuition, channeling mediumship in my mid-20s, when I found the Carlos Castaneda books, for instance, or Shirley MacLaine, and I continued fostering this interest throughout my life. People talk about being “spiritually awake” but I was always awake.

I was also performing live electronic music around the country, learning different methods of yoga, taking Shamanic Journey workshops, reading books on sound healing, chanting, participating in group drummings, and integrating spiritual-based art into my work as an artist, performer, community center/gallery owner and event planner.

What can you say about the alchemy of what you do?

So in regards to alchemy, the art sessions are creating that salient experience: the healing, container, and safe space, while, as in the ancient alchemist way of taking these physical components and mixing and adding in other physical components- they also having spiritual aspects as part of it and that applies to my work as well. In ancient alchemy, the spirit was as important as science. And so, when you put that safe space container and mix it with the energy my clients are releasing in the session and put that into a physical movement of creating this new thing, (the intentional artwork) you have the alchemy of the “lead to gold” so to speak.

So there's a lot of symbolism in alchemy, can you talk more about that?

Sometimes symbolism shows up for me in very specific ways where I will literally add alchemical symbols to a painting (like a fire symbol if they are feeling stagnant, or a gold symbol if they are trying to build wealth, etc.). But I also think that spirit gives me specific symbols for a specific person. I don't always even know what they are until later and they'll point out things to me that show up in the painting that mean something to them. I trust in spirit to give people the healing they're asking for and that shows up in all kinds of ways including the symbology.

So, would you say that you're part of the alchemy between spirit and the individual as well, like translating, things that they can't pick up themselves because they're not fine-tuned in the way that you are after years of spiritual practice?

I don't mean to say that someone couldn't do an alchemizing art practice for themselves because of course they can, but I do bring years of experience in spiritual practice, and the objectivity of outside perspective. I think that having someone else who's outside of your own patterns, thoughts, beliefs, and blocks can help you go further.

What do you bring that's different from a typical therapy session, energy healing, or coaching?

I'm not a therapist by any means! These sessions are their own version of energy healing for sure- and the coaching too. What I bring that's purely me is my esoteric studies background, my painting skills, my deep listening abilities, my safe container facilitation, and my connection to the spirit world. That stuff- combined with my intention and deep-hearted wish to help people in this way- is what I’ll contribute to these works.

Different sessions have gone in different directions. Depending on where the person is, if they're looking for deeper connections, that shows up for them; if they want just a sort of surface healing or release, that's the result and all of it is good!. So it depends on how willing they are to be as vulnerable as they can be to get into the deep stuff. I think it's good no matter what capacity level they have at that time. I feel like they're getting something good out of it in any case, and I love being the facilitator.

I’d love to take this opportunity for you to tell us how you create a safe space for expression without judgment.

I am very open to everybody's perspective. And, I would say that that's the heart of who I am. I'm interested in perspective. I love people. And I love that everyone has their singular perspective. And I think that's why it's so easy for me not to have judgment for people, because I feel like everyone's truth is their truth no matter what religion or spiritual connection they have.

The work I do with spirit has also been cultivated by me alone, and I think every person’s work on this planet is to find their personal spirituality and foster that and commune with spirit in their personal way. And I love to help people find the way that works for them. It also makes me very open to people's different ways of connecting to spirit.

At the start of every session, I make sure that my own nervous system is in a calm, centered space. Even if my time is short, I make sure to have at least a 10-minute meditation before every session because people will sense and often reflect each other’s energy. To me, being responsible with my own emotional state and energetic state is essential for creating a safe space.

Also, I have a particular affinity for chanting. I have some particular chants that I do to make sure that I’m centered and connected to God, The Universe, the I am that I am, The Quantum Field- people have all of these names for it- and it’s the place where you’re fully connected to source energy.

When I give my clients a brief prep for the whole thing, I tell them to think about the story or the energy that they want to alchemize, or the pattern, or whatever is going on for them. And to make sure that they are in a safe space when they call me- that they've blocked off enough time that they're free of any parental obligations, etc. I've had clients call me from their car because that's the place where they can get by themselves and have no one listening in and where they can be in the right space to talk.

What happens after the session? And how do you support clients and integration?

So, towards the end of the session, when I feel like they're coming to a close of what they want to say, I'll show them the painting that's being worked on. Very rarely would I consider it done at that point, but I let them see the direction it's going in. I spend hours after the session working on the finishing details of the painting. For me, it's important for it to also look like a painting that the client would want to live with. Once it's finished, then I send them a digital image of it with the title. That is the spirit message. The painting gets shipped to them after it's done (usually within the same week) and then I give them (I'd call it) “homework’, but it's usually some exercise, something to think about, or an action that will help with their new energy integration.

Tell me more about your new ™Artchemize Session Packages.

My new Offerings are building on my initial ™Artchemize Session with more options to continue working with me.

I think that because of what's occurred with other clients working with different aspects of their life as part of a whole healing journey, I wanted to make an accessible and planned intentional package as my new offer. I've had clients going through divorce, wanting to change jobs, cross-state moves, personal loss grief, and more -where they want to show up for this new situation and there's healing to be done in the transition.

For these reasons, I realized there's a need to offer a plan for multiple sessions that allow me to support and accompany my clients through major transitions and healing journeys.

Artchemize Transformation Package: This offering is four Artchemize Sessions spread out quarterly over a year, which will result in four paintings that you can have displayed in a block grid or a line or whatever works for your space.

Artchemize Integration Package: This offering is the Transformation Package with 8 Artchemize Coaching Sessions. Ideally, we would have an Artchemize Session every 3 months, with integration coaching in the two months between each session. I'm flexible with how that coaching goes and they can all be lumped together if someone feels like they really want to tackle things in a big chunk.

What would you say is the advantage ™Artchemize Transformation Package or the Artchemize Integration Package over doing a single session?

I would say that more gold is more gold, right? So, I think that If you want to have bigger results then you put in bigger amounts of work, which is what I would bring to both packages.

If you want to meet quarterly and integrate your newly alchemized energy on your own, the Transformation package is perfect. If you want to meet more regularly for additional help, then the Integration package will give you the coaching that uses my wealth of helpful exercises, spells, mantras, tarot, sound healing (all of my "woo" toolbox tailored to you), as well as cheerleading and accountability. I will meet with you for 8 hour-long sessions plus behind-the-scenes time to make a plan that will help you to integrate your blossoming in life.

Interview between Christine and Yabette happened in San Francisco, CA on July 22nd, 2023. Get Creative Business Coaching with Christine here.

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