Rasaboxes is a technique that I apply in art therapy sessions for patients who wish to try this technique or for patients who are having particular difficulty with emotions.
Devised by Richard Schechner in the 90s and 90s, Rasaboxes offers a concrete physical tool to access, express, and manage feelings/emotions within the context of performance or therapy. My work is very much guided and influenced by Richard's work.
Used originally for performer training, rasaboxes can also be applied in other fields including therapy.
Rasaboxes offers participants a space to physically meet and express eight key emotions first identified in the Natyasastra, a Sanskrit text dealing with theatre, dance, and music.
Rasaboxes integrates this ancient theory with contemporary emotion research about the “brain in the belly” (the enteric nervous system), studies in facial expression of emotion, neuroscience, and performance theory — including Antonin Artaud’s assertion that the actor is “an athlete of the emotions.”
Rasaboxes is a fully embodied and individual means to express these eight key emotions separately and in combination through direct physical practice. Rasaboxes helps participants to work holistically: the body/mind/emotions are treated as a single system. In practice, rasaboxes produces experiences or performances that are visceral and useful across a wide range of contexts.
Rasaboxes integrates play, movement, and voice and engages the whole person.
I engage with Rasa Boxes as a creative technique to guide patients towards and through their emotions. It is a safe and creative way of accessing emotions that might other wise be hidden, trapped or unexplored territories.
The Sanskrit word “rasa” can be translated as “juice, taste, flavor, essence.” The underlying concept is that rasa suffuses and inhabits our feelings. Rasa is a process rather than a thing. And yet the eight rasas can be identified and played with. Rasas are the primary flavors such as salty, sour, sweet, pungent, astringent, and bitter. Or smells. Or the way a person feels — “blue” or “in the pink” or “heavy” and so on. Rasas are distinct “flavors” of energy and emotion one feels during an artistic performance or in an everyday life situation.
The eight rasas — in Sanskrit roughly translated are: adbhuta (surprise, wonder), sringara (love, eros), bhayanaka (fear, shame), bibhatsa (disgust, revolt), vira (courage, the heroic), hasya (laughter, the comic), karuna (sadness, compassion), and raudra (rage).
Rasaboxes exercises range from the very simple and personal expression of each rasa individually by means of drawing, breathing, gesturing, role playing or improvising, and vocalizing to complex combinations of rasas performed by several people in a group simultaneously.
Rasaboxes exercises are psychophysical, engaging the whole body and mind.
From composing the body and guiding the breath, the work leads step-by-step to sound and movement exercises that may use objects and texts, music, masks, and songs — and more. There is an unpredictability in rasaboxes in terms of means. During each workshop, new ways of accessing and expressing the emotions are found.
We can use Rasa Boxes as a set program that you choose to sign up to, or within an open art therapeutic program.
Please contact me for more information on Rasa Boxes.