the known unknown

 “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

the stars

Poetry

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

by Pablo Neruda

To paraphrase Dr. Jordan Peterson from a recent  TED lecture, “there are things that you know deeply, you just don’t know that you know them.”  Creative process is a way to allow the known unknown to surface through the arts.  Encountering the known unknown often leads to the emotional experience of awe.  We risk a leap of faith from what is known into what is not yet known. This is the experience of not having the words to describe, feeling deeply moved, touched, terrified and fascinated simultaneously.  Neruda’s poem conveys the experience of being summoned and touched, and then “my mouth had no way with names[...]something stirred in my soul”.  Creative process is a way to allow known unknown treasure to surface.  The expressive arts have the potential to inspire and reflect back what we most need to know in a form that may be both seen, shaped and shared.

Art and Truth

Art and Truth

John F. Kennedy’s quote resonates deeply, reflecting the capacity of the Arts to shape collective human experience at the macro and micro levels.  Simply put, we shape and are shaped by the life stories we create in our dreams, art and words.  So where does Truth fit into the equation? What is the relationship between Truth and Art?

In attempting to answer to this question,  Professor/author Stephen Levine, refers to the work philosopher Martin Heidegger.  Levine writes that for Heidegger truth was a form of  unconcealment

Truth as unconcealment, in Heidegger’s thinking, is contained already in the etymology of the Greek word for truth, ‘alethia‘.  Lethe, the river of death and forgetfulness, designates the darkness and mystery in which Being dwells. To allow something to emerge from concealment, a-lethia, means to become aware of the background from which things emerge (Levine, p. 27, Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy).

According to Levine, this means that “Truth happens: it is not a timeless realm to which we must aspire: rather , it occurs within history and is given to us as our destiny.”  We do not create Truth, we do not will truth into existence. The same goes for Art. As a manifestation of Truth “art has the capacity to give meaning and direction to human existance”.  Art is the place where we come home to ourselves, where things appear as what they are, and where what we value emerges.

“Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”
― Mary Oliver

treasure

The most treasured moments are those timeless ones where you are totally engaged with whatever you are doing.  You are in the zone, the canvas, the rock climbing or the conversation.  You are completely focused and feel positive shifting of energy.  This experience is a cultural universal.  When we are in that place we are connected, fulfilled, at “one” with and at home.  Just what is this state of consciousness or energy that gets activated?

Chi is described as the universal life force or energy that permeates everything in existence. Is this mysterious river of energy  related to Mihali Csikszentmihalyi’s flow state, the state of mind where we are optimally challenged and totally engaged?

Watch John Vervaeke explain the psychological experience of Chi………Chi Explained Without Magic.

Hurrying Slowly

“When you pay attention  to your dreams, you inhabit a much larger part of your soul.”
- Robert Bosnak

In his book Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art and Travel, Robert Bosnak, writes about how images are embodied by the dreamer. He views dream images as places of emotion, or as image environment ecosystems in which we find ourselves. He states “Place and storytime are simultaneous and indistinguishable, portrayed as a moment in place as seen from above” (p.18).  Rather than projecting onto an image, we interact, engage and dialogue with images. Through creative imaginal process we both shape and are shaped by images in dreams and/or art.

slowdown1

Here is a video where Robert Bosnak speaks to the importance of slowing down and paying attention to the particulars……

Dreams and Stories

dreams

“Trust dreams

Trust your heart

and trust your story”.

-Neil Gaiman

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