The following article was recently published in Psychologica Magazine’s special edition on Trauma. I’ve included a link to the full magazine, lots of great articles on trauma treatments, both from a clinical perspective as well as personal. Hope you might find something that resonates.
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Tags: art, art therapy, artists on tumblr, Arts, attention, birds, collage, creative art therapy, creativity, creativity development, dreams, dreams and art, expressive art therapy, Facebook, focus, illustration, image, inspiration, learning, mental-health, mindfulness, narrative, nature, outdoors, painter, painting, self help, spirituality, trauma, trees, visual art, wellness
Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.
If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.
Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.
If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily
to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely
but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?
The door itself makes no promises.
by Adrienne Rich, from
“Prospective Immigrants, Please Note”
Sound has a profound effect on the senses. It can be both heard and felt. It can even be seen with the mind’s eye. It can almost be tasted and smelled. Sound can evoke responses of the five senses. Sound can paint a picture, produce a mood, trigger the senses to remember another time and place. From infancy we hear sound with our entire bodies. When I hear my own name, I have as much a sense of it entering my body through my back or my hand or my chest as through my ears. Sound speaks to the sensorium; the entire system of nerves that stimulates sensual response
(Louis Colaianni, The Joy of Phonetics and Accents)
So how did “C” get its sounds? How was “C” able to find a voice? Poet and philosopher Dejan Stojanovic wrote that “sound unbound by nature becomes bounded by art.” Bounding or framing is a way of creatively shaping experience, allowing something new to emerge. “C” was able to engage in creative process, while shaping and transforming unbound sound. This artistic exploration allowed a surprising and fresh sound to emerge. And that is how “C” was able to find a voice.
Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.
Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
To stay at home is best.
Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O’er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
To stay at home is best.
“Song” by H.W. Longfellow: Keramos and Other Poems 1878
As Longfellow says “to stay at home is best”. But is it? It feels great to be in a place that feels safe, protected and predictable. This is the land of known and previously explored territory. Home is being on familiar ground. You know exactly where you are.
The challenge in keeping creative process fresh and alive, is to balance the need to keep things safe, predictable and orderly, with the need to explore unknown, unpredictable and potentially dangerous new territory.
It is relatively easy to imagine yourself standing with one foot in order and one foot in chaos. But maybe this balanced stance is more a place of action or experience that is way more complex than imagined. That place where there is just enough safety and just enough danger, is a space of surprises. Strangely, this place needs to be repeatedly found and/or rediscovered anew. There is no guidebook that consistently works. The entrance way (at least in my own personal creative process) seems to be through tolerating frustration, giving up control and welcoming resistance to new, accidental or unplanned experience. That dark and uncomfortable stuff has to be encountered each time. Maybe as Longfellow says, we need to be
“baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt.”
Each voluntary encounter with the unknown builds resilience for the next journey along the creative path. Maybe that is what is meant by practice.
Tags: art, artists on tumblr, attention, beginners mind, collage, creative art therapy, creativity, creativity development, e.e. cummings, illustration, image, mental-health, mindfulness, nature, outdoors, painting, Poet, Poetry, spirituality, visual art
The Little House of Lost Play (Mar Vanwa Tyalieva) by J. R. R. Tolkien
We knew that land once, You and I,
and once we wandered there
in the long days now long gone by,
a dark child and a fair.
Was it on the paths of firelight thought
in winter cold and white,
or in the blue-spun twilit hours
of little early tucked-up beds
in drowsy summer night,
that you and I in Sleep went down
to meet each other there,
your dark hair on your white nightgown
and mine was tangled fair?
We wandered shyly hand in hand,
small footprints in the golden sand,
and gathered pearls and shells in pails,
while all about the nightengales
were singing in the trees.
We dug for silver with our spades,
and caught the sparkle of the seas,
then ran ashore to greenlit glades,
and found the warm and winding lane
that now we cannot find again,
between tall whispering trees.
The air was neither night nor day,
an ever-eve of gloaming light,
when first there glimmered into sight
the Little House of Play.
New-built it was, yet very old,
white, and thatched with straws of gold,
and pierced with peeping lattices
that looked toward the sea;
and our own children’s garden-plots
were there: our own forgetmenots,
red daisies, cress and mustard,
and radishes for tea.
There all the borders, trimmed with box,
were filled with favourite flowers, with phlox,
with lupins, pinks, and hollyhocks,
beneath a red may-tree;
and all the gardens full of folk
that their own little language spoke,
but not to You and Me.
For some had silver watering-cans
and watered all their gowns,
or sprayed each other; some laid plans
to build their houses, little towns
and dwellings in the trees.
And some were clambering on the roof;
some crooning lonely and aloof;
some dancing round the fairy-rings
all garlanded in daisy-strings,
while some upon their knees
before a little white-robed king
crowned with marigold would sing
their rhymes of long ago.
But side by side a little pair
with heads together, mingled hair,
went walking to and fro
still hand in hand; and what they said,
ere Waking far apart them led,
that only we now know
What is animal presence? Why do animals visit in dreams? James Hillman, founder of archetypal psychology wrote that from a depth perspective of the world
all things are displays, and imagination and perception, invisible and visible, intuition and sensation do not fall apart when discerned with an animal eye (Animal Presences, Spring, 2008).
So what is an animal eye? What is it like to look at the world with an animal eye? Hillman speaks to using another kind of vision that moves beyond the usual correspondences, symbolization and metaphors that we usually impose on animals in attempting to define their meaning. Through leaning into the mysterious otherness of animals, by
bringing our superior postures to the level of the creature, kneeling to it, condescension, we begin to see as they do; a transposed eye […] to see with the creaturely eye is an act of imagining the world so that it appears in continuing animation, in a continuing play of creation with which human consciousness participates by means of imagining acts. (Hillman, 2008)
Here the creative imagination is not a gift that is bestowed upon us in order to create great works of art, images or ideas. Animal vision is a way of releasing what already exists. When we see with the animal eye we are able to see and connect with creative process that is ongoing and the possibilities that exist in play. Hillman emphasizes that
the human imagination is not the creator, does not create; it sees the creative, creatively (Hillman, 2008)
Seeing creatively with the animal eye is a way to open, improvise and play your way into creative process.