Personal Impact Statement from Breanna Cox

Tattoos have been used for a variety of reasons in many cultures for thousands of years. Perhaps, it is no coincidence that my tribe member and myself landed on the lineage of tattoos. For me, I watched so many fellow Airmen get a quote on their inside arm or a tribal tattoo across their bicep. However, I knew better than to succumb to social pressure to get something that would stay on me forever.

I wanted my tattoo to be meaningful. My one and only tattoo is on my lower left leg; it is of a tall oak tree. My tattoo tree is my constant reminder to stay grounded, stand tall, stand my ground, keep growing, and to adapt with the seasons.

While studying this lineage, I found myself looking for any medicinal and spiritual purpose behind someone’s body art. I also strive to put myself in someone else’s shoes as much as I can; so that I know what their experience may be. For our performance, I went to a natural henna artist and that shows my commitment to this study and to this course. Over the last week, the henna on my hands has attracted conversations from strangers. Also, when I glance at the henna design; I have felt uplifted momentarily and then it helps me get through the rest of my day. I wonder if folks with real tattoos on their hands or wrists might have a similar experience.

In my two-person tribe, it has been especially challenging from week six to the end. It didn’t take long but I gave control to my partner; perhaps to appease her. However, I felt like I haven’t been included in some parts of our decision-making process either. In this process especially, I have been able to internally empower myself by reminding myself that I am responsible for my own thoughts and feelings. I am not God and I have no control over someone else’s thoughts, feelings, understandings, or perceptions. I am improving my intuition and attunement consistently.

In my understanding of a microcosmic system, it is “a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger unity.” (Merriam-Webster) I am blessed to serve as a board member on the New Mexico Art Therapy Association. My niche is that I am leading the charge as the Communications Chair so that we can have a strong presence online. The board has nine members of independent women with strong leadership skills who are leading art therapists from around the state. We are a microcosmic system that serves as an extension of the national parent organization of the American Art Therapy Association (macrocosmic system).

As it applies to the lineage of body art, my microcosm system of tattoos is pretty small. My brother and myself are the only ones in my core family with a tattoo. In my group of friends, I know of two people with tattoos. In the macrocosmic system of tattoos around the world, it seems that tattoos are still in exclusive groups.

During the course of the quarter in Consciousness I class, I have been able to read, watch, learn, listen, wonder, and experience a variety of things that help me better understand the psychology of consciousness. During the long weekend, I appreciated the afternoon that was devoted to a counselor/client exercise. I have an innate talent as an introvert with intuition, but I need this setting and guidance to fine tune this skill. The techniques of active listening and empathic attunement are foundations for Person-Centered Therapy; but also all forms of counseling. It is not enough to repeat what the client is saying, but to motivate them to explore their own story.

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in a Lakota ceremony ritual. It is amazing to experience and hear stories of their culture. It allowed me to sit and listen to everyone’s relation to ceremony, and also to empathize with rites of passage of some indigenous folk. In the clinical setting, I will bear much multicultural competence with clients who come from a variety of backgrounds. As a counselor, it is important to me to help a client develop their identity and what rituals are important to them.

In The Power of Now book (Tolle, 1997), I learned about the qualities of an impulsive mind; and I can relate to this at times. I hope to be proficient in some cognitive-behavioral techniques to help clients look at their patterns of thinking. For me, the major epiphany in this book is meditating and working to be present. I especially resonated with Tolle’s example of truly listening and feeling while in nature. (Eco Therapy has been coming up for me continuously all quarter.) I look forward to helping patients practice their own version of being present.

It has been quite eye-opening to read, and reflect on the partnership and dominator continuum that exists around the world; as written in the book The Power of Partnership (Eisler , 2002). I agree with the author that many changes need to happen in order to improve the well-being and equality of everyone. Plus, this book had many practical tips on relating and using the bedrock of caring. In a therapeutic setting, it is beneficial to reframe a client’s perspective while guiding client’s in their own journey of connectedness.

Finally, I found great reward in the exercise with my tribe member in week eight. It was in this conversation that she realized that she needs to speak up more, and I am still seeking to connect. It is unfortunate for us that this exercise was so late in the quarter. For my tribe, we would have benefited from it in the first couple weeks of class. In a clinical setting, this handout has wording that makes it safe for each person to voice their thoughts.

While refraining from alcohol throughout the quarter, I was able to focus my attention on concepts more in-depth without interference. For me, I would have liked the option to either have alcohol or not. It took me a few weeks to change my thinking from feeling restricted. This can be used in a therapeutic setting by helping a client empower themselves on their own goals. The client is the authority and I am here to facilitate a process of reframing and refocusing as needed.

For me personally, when I was sick for a good portion of the quarter; then I refrained from alcohol for a better physiological healing. However, as a result, I found myself wanting to focus on more health-centric goals. Alcohol takes me away from the present moment and it can change my body’s metabolism for a couple days it seems. Certainly, I would help a client who may have similar health or holistic goals.

Other considerations for mind-altering substances include the concepts for inner/outer authority, impulse, indulgence, habit, and choice. It is important for me and every individual to realize they have a conscious choice to make around food, caffeine, drugs, alcohol, etc. When it comes to making the decision to partake in alcohol or other mind-altering substances, one has to ask themselves if they are mindful and present. Otherwise, are they mindless?