Every day, each one of us faces a host of challenges. We have responsibilities to our jobs, our parents, our children, our significant others. There is pressure that society places upon us, and pressure that we place upon ourselves. There is a general trend in our beliefs, that we need to be all things to everyone, but often with that kind of weight on our shoulders it can be hard to remember that we also have a responsibility to ourselves. It’s so important to make sure that we set aside time to take care of our own needs. That we look within and face each aspect of ourselves, and work to heal and improve where needed.
Our modern day lives present us with so many distractions, from monetary obligations to advertising, from prescription drugs to film and tv entertainment. Filled with distractions, burdened by the often-crushing weight of economic survival, societal approval, and the enormous problems of the world, it’s no wonder that many of us are fearful, and feel stuck. In truth, we’re often paralyzed by fear. Fear of facing who we are, how we feel about ourselves, and how we feel about our daily lives. Deep down, many of us would like to make changes, but that fear can be a serious obstacle, and often we don’t even know where to begin.
Through my own self introspection, and healing journey, I have found that the creative process can be a powerful tool as we endeavor to overcome fear, heal from within, and move towards that state of being that we have longed for, that way of life that we’ve desired.
My own personal creative process has taught me to face adversity and acknowledge all parts of myself. It has broadened my view on the world, and in a way cleared my mind of many of the distractions.
I know what it feels like to be paralyzed by fear. In that state, we tend to push away the part of us that needs more attention. It can be scary to look at what is present, and distracting ourselves with work, entertainment, or pharmaceuticals can seem like a good option, but if you never address what’s going on for you internally, and learn how the external world may be influencing you, most likely you will never move forward.
From my experience, a great place to begin is simply returning to creativity through what you enjoy (art, writing, music, etc.) By using a creative outlet that I thoroughly enjoy, I’ve found it makes it much easier to face certain aspects of myself. Fear may still rise within you. In truth, fear often arises when the creative process tries to emerge though us, but more often than not we are being challenged to return to ourselves and pay attention to what is surfacing. In those moments we can ask ourselves “What am I feeling?”, “Where is this coming from?”, “What is it related to?” and “Is there something deeper going on?”
As we begin to use our creativity, or the creative process, there is an emergence that happens, and we find that as we make a commitment to the exploration of the self, many truths emerge, questions get answered, and we see aspects of life such as the light and the dark, the highs and the lows, the exuberant and mundane as a necessary part of our growth, and society’s growth.
When we learn of the fundamental part that duality plays in our world, we start to understand the basis of fear. It is necessary to embrace duality in differences, but not become attached. It’s a hard thing to do, it’s a lifelong practice, but it is incredibly important, because fear enters when we fall to the extreme of one side or another. Finding the middle way, the liminal state is what moves us forward, it is what is called being in the flow.
Flow state as defined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi as the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
A consistent creative practice in Art making has led me to discover the deeper longings within myself and has allowed me to focus on who I am and what I love on a deep level, and it allows me to get into the flow. It is through the artmaking process and life making process where we start to uncover life’s many mysteries. It’s important to remember that this uncovering cannot be forced, it must be coaxed out, as if a puppy or kitten was hiding under the bed.
Our creativity is often lodged deep within locked up parts of ourselves. When we attempt to force open these locks, we tend to lose our way, and shift to a state of desperation. I know first-hand what desperation does to a human being. At the same time, we shouldn’t necessarily run from our desperate moments. They may also bring us insight and help in the healing process. It is in our desperation where we often find courage.
I have been on a long journey, yet I would have never thought to write this even a year ago, but now after everything I have undergone, a personal alchemical transformation, I can see it was in my own desperate search out in the external that led me to take a step off the side of the mountain, very much like the fool in Tarot, and it was at that point that the ultimate journey began.
I’m not ashamed to say that I spent a lot of time clamoring to find the truth of who I was, who I am, but because I was in that desperate state, I was missing the Joie de vivre.
Art making has brought me back full center to myself. It has challenged me to dig into the pain and pull out the beauty. To let the fear rise and face it head-on.
Although I look at my lens through Art, any act can be creative. You don’t need an audience of 100, or 1000, it simply is about your willingness to show up and be present.
It is important to remember even if no one sees it, even if you are out in the woods performing a prayer and/or ritual, or you are alone in your studio making a painting, or alone in your bedroom journaling, every creative act contains an energetic essence and is received through the web of creation itself.
It is through creations dreaming where we remember just who we are, creative beings full of wonder, magic and mystery. It is through creative acts where one starts to uncover all parts of themselves, in order to integrate them back to wholeness. It is not just how we bring balance to ourselves, but to the world.
After all these years of hiding and thinking how afraid I was to make my Art, I learned that it was never the Art that I was afraid to make. It was the person who wanted to make the art that I was afraid to face. It was the reality of being that person, and letting the world see, that brought on the fear.
I urge you to pursue a creative process that brings you joy, and to take the time to look within, acknowledge what you find there, feel the fear and pass through it, support your heart’s desire, and to say “Yes, there is indeed beauty in me.”