Focusing and Art Club Changed My Life

Focusing showed me how to process my emotions and my experience in the world in a way that I had not done before. I wanted to share Focusing with my friends so that we could grow alongside each other and support each other.

At the same time, I was feeling crushing anxiety around how to make choices about my career path. My friends and I felt so much uncertainty due to climate change, late-stage capitalism, and the threat of social divides. Then a global pandemic shook the whole world, introducing a new way of life altogether ~ complete with more anxieties, unknowns, and separation.

When quarantine started in March of 2020 I felt the need to create an online community for learning Focusing.

So I started a group called Emerging with Solidarity, and in that group we learned Focusing in an organic way. Nina and I would show up with a lesson plan, but over time we realized that this group had a life of its own. Eventually, we renamed it Sprout Space, and we practiced Focusing and had group support discussions.

The experience was very rewarding, and yet hosting webinars became taxing for me. I found the days where we made artwork with Focusing, those days were easier for me. It also felt like people got a lot more out of it, that they had more meaningful experiences. And that’s how Art Club started.

Art Club is a community gathering where people combine Focusing and creativity for inner healing and emotional expression. It is designed to encourage personal growth that is self-led, yet group supported.

It was created as a place for young people to grow and adopt new skills related to inner-work and self-regulation. We need more spaces where emotional processing is encouraged, designated, and supported. Art Club provides the time, space, resources and community support that is needed for this kind of inner-reflection to happen. Though Art Club aims to draw in the young, all ages are fully welcome. Diversity brings richness to our group, and intergenerational connections offer another kind of healing wisdom and support that is lacking in our modern cultures, too.

As an Art Club session begins, we participate in a focusing activity that leads each person inward for listening and exploration. There, each person has their own unique experience which they can then express through their medium of choice. Everyone is given time here to be with that experience and process it however they choose. When we come back together as a group, we hold space for listening and sharing what creative forms emerged.

Art Club grew into a beautiful thing. When quarantine started lifting, I started inviting people to attend in-person in addition to others continuing over zoom. When people started actually showing up, the whole energy changed. I didn’t know that it could be better, but it was. There’s something really special about meeting in person, sharing the same physical space, creating a container of safety and trust and vulnerability. This truly made Art Club that much more potent.

two round figures containing values and ideas

It’s really important to be doing inner work right now, especially for someone in their 20’s. I feel a lot of confusion and fear around what the future holds. There is so much uncertainty about what the world will look like in 5, 10, 20 years. We don’t always have relevant models anymore, like a straight-forward career path or family planning, or even secure housing. Learning to cope with that, as someone who is coming into adulthood and trying to find my way forward, it’s pretty critical.

And we know that it’s not just ourselves that we are healing. We are getting in touch with past generations and how their trauma has carried through into us. We have a lot to work on, a lot to heal, so that we don’t continue the cycle of passing down trauma.

Art Club is more than I ever thought it would be, and that’s because it’s a collaboration. I think of it as a space where people can process their emotions and their experiences with the support of their community, but with their own self-guidance. It’s kind of hard to describe, but when we’re all doing this process together it feels like we can hold more space for things that are so big and scary, and so overwhelming, than if we were to be navigating it alone.

All of us bring energy into it and create something completely new ~ different than any single one of us could do by Focusing alone.

I want to be on this journey of consciousness expansion and healing, and I want to do it with my friends through artwork and connection. I feel so grateful that they show up to Art Club and continue to, even when really hard stuff comes forth and calls our attention.

If you would like to join us, learn more, or support Art Club, you can find us here.

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Hunter Keller is involved in community work that centers around creative emotional expression for healing and transformation. She has developed programs, such as Art Club, which provide a safe container for people to gather and grow. Like our team at Focusing Initiatives, she believes that personal inner-work not only heals the individual, but the community as a whole.

This initiative's Team

Anna Willman
Annika Frohböse
Fida Muhammad
Georgia Kaltsidou
Haqmal Daudzai
Hunter Keller
Jerry Conway
Nasir Khan
Nazia Jamshed Khan
Nina Joy Lawrence
Ocen Daniel Osako
Pat Omidian
Wajid Syed

Reaching Resilience: A Training Manual for Community Wellness