I recently came back from a wonderful time on the West Coast, reconnecting with friends, nurturing myself in the beauty of Nature in the Big Sur and The Bay area, and getting inspired by an amazing week with genius artists Anna and Daria Halprin at Esalen Institute. I danced, drew, wrote, moved… with a group of 50 beautiful people from different nationalities and cultures.
Some of my clients have asked if dance was part of one of my many past lives (just to limit to this life time!); the answer is yes. So, for me, working with 93 year-old Anna Halprin two years ago and again this year has been not only an immense privilege but like going back to my roots. But it has been much more than that… It has been an important reminder of the importance of deeply nurturing my own creativity. I would like to share some of the insights that I got during that process about why and how supporting our creativity is crucial for our mind, body and spirit — in other words, how we can also approach creativity as healing.
To start, let me clarify one important point: creativity is not necessarily about art. Creativity can be defined in different ways but, generally speaking, it is the ability to generate new ideas and new connections between ideas, and ways to solve problems in any field or realm of our lives. Therefore, it is an integral part of our daily lives. The reason we are often unaware of creative, inspirational and spontaneous thoughts is generally because the surface of the mind is constantly moving. The busyness of the mind creates ripples on the surface, in just the same way as throwing a stone into a pond creates ripples on the surface of the water. The problem is that most of us get so caught up in the appearance of these ripples that the water never has a chance to settle. So, moments of downtime during the day, meditative practices or time spent in nature are often the opportunity to slow down the traffic in our mind, creating more space for something new to emerge. The beauty of it is that it is then, usually, effortless; we don’t have to “do” anything.
Arts allow us to nurture that creativity and provide the mind with more of that space to create, heal and transform. In using the term “arts”, I refer to a broad range of creative processes such as dance, music, chanting, theater, storytelling, poetry, architecture, sculpture, painting… The list could go on. Nature itself is full of artistic expressions as those hundred year-old trees in the San Francisco Golden Gate Park attest to.
Here are some of the ways I have found that arts are supporting us deeply as human and spiritual beings:
Nurturing – Several therapists and healers were part of the workshop with Anna and Daria Halprin. During breaks, we shared how much nurturing we needed as facilitators of others’ processes and how the arts were providing something we could not find elsewhere. During one of the sessions, Daria asked us a question that had to do with our body posture and structure but the answer that immediately came to me was: whatever allows a constant flow in my being. Then, I can almost feel that some fuel is feeding my whole system, beyond blood and air. It might be so in part because, for me, creativity is also deeply connected to Nature. So the flow goes like this: I am continuously aligning and re-aligning myself (which means also my own body) over and over again, connecting and re-connecting, creating and re-creating myself, who and how I want to be in this world, now, right at this moment.
Healing – As arts take us out of our conscious mind, something else can come to the front, something totally unexpected. Dancing has allowed me to process a lot of issues and past traumas without “thinking” about them, without even any set agenda. I was just going with the flow, totally present to the movement but without needing to make anything happen. Gabrielle Roth, the founder of 5 Rhythms, used to say:
“Movement is the movement of change. In my experience, if you put your psyche in motion it will heal itself. Movement is the medicine. In your deepest center, you are the stillpoint. You are the rhythm beyond stillness, the feeling beyond compassion, the sexual energy beyond celibacy, the life force beyond death, the vibration beyond inspiration. The moving center is within you.”
Inspiring – As we witness our body being moved, our hand holding the pen or brush over a piece of paper or playing an instrument, our voice being transformed and our throat opened… we open up to new horizons, new aspects of ourselves, including the deepest and highest ones. We truly get “breathed through” by the Gods. This has been why research has also shown that the practice of arts and creative activities was positively associated with positive emotions such as joy, love, and curiosity.
Beautiful – Art is not necessarily about creating beauty but it often results into it. I became particularly sensitive to that specific aspect in my other job when I was looking at how art was supporting conflict transformation processes, trauma resilience and peacebuilding in post-war and more specifically post-massacre situations. Creating beauty out of extreme devastation and suffering seemed important to me and I could see, experience after experience, how much it was crucial to allow people to go beyond survival. Indeed, our mental is mainly what helps us survive but it is not as such very creative. The creative process itself may be “intimidating” at the beginning, as most of us tend to think that we don’t have any talent. But it can quickly become enjoyable as everyone discovers a unique capacity to create. We just need to accept to play and let go. And, then, what appears is just so beautiful and deeply touching that it almost invariably takes everybody by surprise.
This has been my experience with arts and creation. How has it been for you?
Is supporting your creativity also vital? How is it part of your life? How is it nurturing you? What are you going to do to enhance it now?
Finding hard to do it alone? Join a group, meet with friends, find a class at your community center… Options are infinite.
Share your experience and suggestions below.
Wishing you much Creativity, Inspiration and Beauty to deeply nurture yourself!
Béatrice | Contemporary Shamanic Healer
Allowing The Light