Powerfully Creative, Creative Clearing, Exploring Intensity
By Shelley Klammer | Posted 9/30/10 | Updated 11/16/23
We are moving! I have written a great deal about our large sprawling creative hideaway on the edge of the city that is over-run with ivy, blackberries and bears. As I turn 44 this month there is a call within to "hone it all down." This house that we are packing up has for the past 7 years housed all of our wide sprawling interests and has been a haven of creative exploration and inward looking.
Ondrea and I are packing up our huge creative inner life and getting ready to launch the wisdom we have gathered in this house into the more social and professional realms of the outer world. We are moving to a much smaller house that is more professional and inviting socially albeit tiny. It is a house that does not invite us to hide in our private creative interests but instead will move us more powerfully out into the world.
Ondrea and I are on the road to getting our professional licensing and will be starting a therapy practice in the next year. The new house has a beautiful ground floor office with a small higher-end living space upstairs. It is a wine and cheese sort of house. One that I imagine connecting with people in and having deep conversations over simple platters of food, beautiful fresh flowers and some good hot tea.
"We have so vastly overcomplicated our lives that the homeward journey toward natural simplicity is torturous." Gerald G. May
As I pack up my "creative interests" I realize how much time and energy I put into my creativity these past 7 years. What do I do with all of these creations all these sketchbooks, journals, drawings and canvases? I felt somehow aghast rather than overly proud to see the various volumes and tomes unraveling the illusions, fears and hopes of my inner psyche in full detail.
I have been really looking at the myriad of motivations that impel me. To be fair to myself as I look at the many boxes of journals in the middle of the room I feel the immense strength and fortitude of my own creative spirit to work through the many challenges of my life. On the other side I see an intensely introverted emotional artist's sensitivity that has not extended much outwardly.
I have been asking myself why do we do all of the intense things we do? Perhaps you have noticed that sometimes you can be immersed in the most difficult of circumstances and still feel clear, coherent and deeply present. At such times there is no need to "do" anything but simply experience life fully as it is emerging. At other times life can feel absolutely ordinary with no outer difficulties and we can feel an inner pain that we want to find anything outside of ourselves to dissipate it.
As human beings we all struggle with our own tone of inner core pain. We can compensate for inner fears and intense feelings with many "virtuous" forms of doing that seem to be productive. Creativity can also be yet another form of virtuous doing. Yet from this place we can needlessly create too many things. We can try to force ourselves to feel better by doing and creating just to dissipate anxiety rather than coming from a place of true inspiration. An example of this can be the various forms of rigorous "daily creativity" which which can become just another form of excessive doing. Daily creativity is good for moving out of emotional inertia but taken too far it can also be a way of over-doing and thus retreating from simply feeling feelings.
A good thing to ask yourself is, "If I stopped this activity how would I feel?" Whether it is over-creating or over-exercising or over-working we have to ask ourselves what we are "getting" from these activities. I often, for example, see that when people who are forced to stop over-exercising after an injury fall into a deep depression or have difficulties with intense anger because they have been trying to manage difficult feelings though over-active doing.
Creativity can serve many purposes. My journals and drawings are at times bright with bodily intuitive insights and at other times repeat the limited and repetitive stories I have in my mind. Depending on whether I am coming from my fears or my soul, my creativity over the last 7 years has been at times mythic and at other times mundane.
At some point in life we need to experience living without all of the non-integrated psychological material that we all carry within and fear looking at. We literally have to see how we construct the limited patterns of our reality and stop creating them so that we can be in harmony with a larger life flow. It is from this larger life flow that we really can contribute to life in the way that we are truly needed.
Creative bodily intuition arises naturally when we deconstruct our mental limitations. We all know what feels like to expand beyond our normal framework. When my creative intuition is at its best I "feel" symbolically in drawings and paintings. This is a creative inner process for me that requires no sketchbooks or journals. For example, feeling weary from packing I laid down to take a short nap even though the day's moving agenda loomed large.
When it was time to wake up and get ready to go out, an intuitive drawing formed in my mind spontaneously in full color and detail. What arose in my consciousness was a figure of woman moving forward with a sunflower opening up in her belly. The gift of creating as much as I have is that I can now enjoy a kind of innate creativity that emerges automatically and communicates to me in color and symbol.
As Psychologist Stephen Wolinsky puts it, "Briefly stated, we feel threatened by another's aliveness and try to damp it down or destroy it as as ours was dampened down or destroyed. 'Do unto others as that was done unto you.'"
As an artist and a woman I have both struggled and delighted in stepping outside of the status quo. I look at the intuitive drawing above and I see myself absolutely bloated with a powerful life force that wants to be expressed outwardly. It has been easy for me as a woman to be an introverted artist. Many women struggle with repressing their power.
Before I started making expressive art, I struggled to move my energies into life. I felt very sluggish and repressed in my female power. I have allowed myself to be huge in my art and in my private journals and yet with people I can still catch myself playing quite small. When I am with people I have often watched how I make a choice to pull in and contract my energy so as not be "bigger than the room." Yet conversely when I discharge and release my larger energy into my current living circumstances I notice everyone and everything is uplifted.
On a bodily level I have noticed how I have tamped down and contracted my energy in my body. I hold tension in my hips, my back, and my neck. I literally can feel the patterns of tension the holding in of life force in my body. We truly do create our own habitual reality. David R. Hawkins MD writes it this way: "The ego can be thought of a series of entrenched habits of thought which are a result of entrainment of invisible energy fields that dominate human consciousness. To overcome the gravity of worldly thoughts and beliefs requires the work of implementing the decision of spiritual will to deprogram consciousness."
As human beings we all struggle with the urge to express our unique form of life force energy and the equal and opposite urge to fit in and belong by making ourselves "match" our environment. To belong we often literally unconsciously choose to energetically tamp down our energies to help others feel comfortable and safe in our presence. When we "deprogram" ourselves we learn to gradually let go of all the ways we make ourselves small, limited and tamped down.
These days people feel like my living canvas for me and may interest are extending outwards to the richness and varieties of what makes other people tick. It is no surprise that I am moving more into an interest in other people counseling, group work, and daily, vital, sustained human connection. My creativity has deepened and slowed. I attribute this to a fuller grounding in my body and my feelings that does not require me to "express so much."
Beyond expression or repression there is simply feeling a feeling as it is. My integration time for a difficult feeling is shorter and my spiritual muscle to stay present in the midst of a challenging feeling has grown stronger. Rather than such continuous self-expression in my journals the pull that I feel now is towards building a muscle towards sustained engagement and connection with others. As my inner life grows clearer my outer experience feels clearer. I have grown quieter and more content inside. When we integrate our feelings and really feel them all the way through to completions without resisting them there is less of a need to think, create or do so much.
Next: Honesty is Creative
Copyright ©2010 Shelley Klammer. All rights reserved.
Shelley Klammer is a Registered Professional Counselor and an Expressive Art Facilitator. …