Opening to Creativity and Inner Harmony
Expressive Arts: Good for Your Soul!
For many years, I admired fantasy and science fiction writers for their amazing creativity in making up whole new worlds with strange new creatures, while writing fascinating stories. I never imagined being that creative myself. But attending the Person-Centered Expressive Therapy Institute’s training in Expressive Arts Therapy, developed by Natalie Rogers, changed that. I explored all the art forms: movement, writing, art, music, clay-work, collage—only for self-expression, with no concern for technique or end product. I found that with no formal training, I could paint, sculpt clay, write, make music, and dance.
Expressive Arts also helped me, as a woman, to own my true grace, strength, and wisdom—and helped me to trust and open to the creative flow. So when a dark fantasy story (which turned into my Star-Seer’s Prophecy Trilogy) started to pour through me, I did not resist. I let the story go where it wanted, with no plan or outline. And here I am—transformed into an expressive artist and novelist—somewhere I never expected to end up!
You too can be creative in your own unique way!
Your soul wants what’s real and authentic for you, no matter what it looks like. Your soul doesn’t care about following the rules someone else laid on you, being nice and pretty, or making something others will praise.
Most of us started out as young children happily and freely drawing or dancing or singing or…. However, for many, someone came along and made some comment that stopped us in our tracks, like “That’s not a house,” or “The sky isn’t orange.” Or “You’re clumsy.” Or “You can’t carry a tune.” And so your creativity became less about being true to what was flowing through you, and more about pleasing others by doing what they approved of.
So how can expressive arts help you open to your creativity and inner harmony?
Note: In the following section, I’m talking about drawing as an example, but these principles apply to any art form.
Your first step: face those old demons. You know them. They lurk in the shadows saying, “You can’t draw (dance/sing/write),” or “I’m not creative.” They form your inner ‘art critic.’ Realize the ‘art critic’ is just an old memory, which you can now ignore. This may take some time and practice, but if you keep ignoring it and letting yourself be creative in your own way, that critic will eventually quiet down and go sulk in a corner.
Next: throw out all the rules. These rules include all that you learned about how to draw (dance/sing/write).
Now, try this practice: Grab some paper and crayons or felt tip pens (or whatever you have). Tune in to how you are feeling. Pick a color that speaks to you. Whether you like it or hate it doesn’t matter, just so long as it has some energy for you.
Following that energy, start moving that crayon or pen on the paper. Don’t try to draw anything. Just move that pen or crayon in a way that expresses your energy at the moment: swirls or jagged lines or splotches or whatever…
Remember; don’t listen to that ‘critic.’ No censoring or editing or redoing or throwing it out and starting over. Just keep going. Pick a new color when you feel like it.
Pay attention to how being creative in this way makes you feel about yourself. You are very likely to feel lighter, freer, more alive and awake, especially if you do this kind of practice regularly, even once a week.
Letting your soul express itself in this safe way will help you feel more in harmony with yourself, more peaceful, and more empowered in not only your creativity—but in your life in general.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
- The process and how you are feeling are what matter—not the end product.
- It’s YOUR art for YOU. You don’t have to show it to anyone, and if you do, it’s best to ask that they not make any comment, whether positive or negative. Praise can restrict your creativity, as much as criticism—making you subconsciously create art that isn’t true and authentic for you now.
- Express how you feel emotionally and/or energetically. What ends up on the paper can be lovely or horrible, blah or scary. Follow your intuition and let your soul express itself on paper. Cry, yell, or laugh if you need to—all are perfectly OK.
- Don’t cover up your art to hide something that makes you uncomfortable, or that you are judging as no good. This process is about uncovering and opening to what is really going on inside you. No more hiding your soul’s truth from yourself!
- No judging, criticizing, or comparing—by you, or anyone else. This is from you for you. Watch out for ‘art envy.’ “Oh, I wish I could draw like _______.” Guess what? You can’t. You can only draw like YOU draw.
- What you’re creating doesn’t have to make sense or mean anything, as long as it expresses whatever is coming up for/through you.
- If something shifts for you, follow that: maybe with a new color or a new shape. Maybe you want to go bigger, so add another sheet of paper–or ten! If an image begins to emerge, allow it – but don’t try to make it look like exactly what you see in your mind. Trust your soul to express however it needs to.
- If you feel stuck or bored, ask yourself “What am I resisting?”
- Maybe the art critic is saying “Those two colors don’t go together.” Or “That’s ugly.” Ignore that voice and put those colors however you want; or make it even uglier—as ugly as your soul wants it to be. Life can be very ugly or sublimely beautiful. It is all ‘grist for the mill’ as Ram Dass said, and it’s all material for your art.
- Maybe you want more and more RED (or whatever color), and that color seems scary to you, or your mind is saying, “That’s too much!” Don’t back off. Let yourself have as much RED as satisfies your soul.
- Maybe your art is making you uncomfortable or bored, and you want to be done with it. Don’t give in. Sit with that discomfort using the Focusing technique that I described in my blog post on resistance and surrender. Be with that uneasiness or boredom or desire to quit, and ask yourself, “What’s this discomfort all about?” Then wait quietly and allow the ‘answer’ to arise within. It may arise as a color, shape, image, words, or a feeling that you’ve been resisting. Continue your art from that ‘answer.’
- And if your art has evoked a difficult feeling like anger or rage, sadness or grief, draw or paint, dance or sing those feelings right into your art—it’s the safest place to put them. Usually, you will find yourself shifting into a new, lighter mood when you do so. (However if powerful feelings are evoked and become overwhelming, be sure to seek support from a professional. See Resource below.)
I’m sure that if you make this a regular practice, whether by drawing, dancing freely for yourself alone, or singing in the shower, your creativity will begin to flow freely. And it may take you in an amazing life-direction that you never imagined, just as it did for me!
Look for Perilous Bliss, the third and final book in my Star-Seer’s Prophecy Trilogy coming in January 2018.
And if you haven’t read Book One where my hero, Kyr, is taught ‘expressive art’ as part of his arduous healing journey, you can get Dark Innocence (as well as the second book in the series, Fierce Blessings) here.
Now, tell me what you think!
What does your soul long to express freely, and have you considered doing so through art?
What blocks you from exploring that?
What form of art calls to you: painting, collage, movement, music, song or…?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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Expressive Arts Resources
- Soulplay.com: my expressive arts website: sharing my inner journey through expressive art, writing, and dreamwork.“Great website. It’s such a good example of how expressive arts can be a vehicle for Soul to heal and guide us.” —Shellee Davis, REAT
- Painting from the Wild Heart classes, workshops, and retreats with Chris Zydel:
- IEATA – International Expressive Arts Therapy Association – http://www.ieata.org/
For referrals to therapists: http://www.ieata.org/resources.html
- Authentic Movement, which follows the same principles as Expressive Arts for movement. http://authenticmovementcommunity.org/about
If you have any questions, contact me at email@example.com