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Tools for Healing: Reconnect to self through creative expression

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
— Martha Graham
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There’s a lot to be said about making art.

There are classes and rule books and critics that will tell you where you rank and how to be better. How to relate to an audience. How to be marketable. What we never talk about is the desire to create something. What drives us to imagine something new and then offer it up to the world? It’s a very particular feeling, to want to create something. It feels like what a flower must feel like before blooming--it knows that it’s time to unfurl and be seen. But this desire doesn’t get nurtured in our daily lives. For most of us, anyway. And I want to show you what I’ve learned about holding onto that feeling, never letting it fade, always believing that I am creating even if I can’t see my creation yet. This can be a way of looking at ourselves with compassion when we know we are in a cocoon. Because healing is also creating.

Creating means reminding yourself that you are worthy of creating.

Our desire for self-expression can easily get tied up in questions of worthiness. Many of us genuinely feel that we have little to offer in the way of art. We feel that we haven’t uncovered any hidden truths worth sharing. But how does that attitude affect the way we evaluate our experiences? It tells us that our experiences are not rich with meaning and that we are not equipped to harvest meaning from them. But the human mind is so driven to live and to find meaning in living. Self-expression is a way of validating our life force. Seeing its meaning and its worth.

So when we are examining our desires for self-expression, it’s always worthwhile to examine our ideas about worthiness and the ways we may be holding ourselves back from our true expression. There are many ways of dampening or toning down our authentic tone, but the sound made by your life needs to be heard, or the orchestra as a whole is incomplete.

Creating means walking the path to connectedness.

Self-expression is the act of expressing love to yourself and the world. Where trauma makes us feel isolated and separated, self-expression reminds us that we are always connected.

Gabor Mate, a physician and childhood trauma specialist, has written that “the essence of trauma is disconnection from ourselves. Trauma is not terrible things that happen from the other side—those are traumatic. But the trauma is that very separation from the body and emotions. So, the real question is, “How did we get separated and how do we reconnect?” 

By nurturing our desires to create and express ourselves, we explore the pathways that connect our minds back to our bodies. And when we share our creations with the world, we reconnect with the world around us. In this way, healing from trauma can be an opportunity to recreate our very existence, and learn to express ourselves from a place of love and connection rather than fear.

The desire to reconnect with oneself is the same as the desire to create. With these desires in mind, you can aspire to express yourself honestly, without restraint. Those feelings of separation from yourself and others can become an opportunity to close the gap through self-expression.

Meditation is a creative practice that lets you into your inner world and shows you what is forming there. Here are some meditative activities that can create a space for you to nurture your creative drive.

  • Walking

  • Reading

  • Cleaning

  • Examining your face in the mirror

  • Dancing

  • Drawing or doodling

  • Sitting outside with no distractions

  • Having an honest conversation with someone you love

  • Closing your eyes, laying down, and listening to music on headphones

  • Looking at trees, sitting under trees, climbing trees

  • Spending time with children

  • Sewing, weaving, knitting

  • Gardening

Each of us has a unique life force inside us that is always collecting and forming, imagining the new. How we choose to share it is always up to us. There are no rules or expectations. We are all capable of blooming, and none of us will look the same when we do.

This month, we will be holding an event at the Rape Recovery Center called “Picking up the Pieces: writing, kintsugi, and the path to wholeness.” This will be a wonderful opportunity to explore your creative drive and your unique self expression. The link to sign up for this event is here.

This Blog post has been brought to you by Tamsin Clement. She is a writer living in Provo who teaches writing workshops for women at community centers and healing facilities across Utah Valley. You can find her on Instagram at @tamsinese if you’d like to stay updated on her upcoming workshops and courses.