Creativity is a healing force.
It took me a while to really understand that, but once I did, I realized that it is my most frequently employed healing tool. Music heals–we know that, it’s easy to understand. Throughout human history, literature, myth and pictographs have captured our use of the healing power of music. It’s in the Greek myths, Celtic legends, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and in Biblical stories. We know this.
What we don’t often think about, is how the process of actually creating something can be even more healing. Passively listening to music or looking at art is powerful, but opening yourself to the energies of creativity, which come from Source, especially with intention turned on, is the stuff of miracles. I remember one day years ago I was suffering so bad with hay fever I could barely function. I picked up a guitar that happened to be sitting next to me on the couch, and started noodling. Not playing anything specific, just letting my fingers wander. After a few minutes I realized that I had not sneezed or blown my nose since I picked up the guitar, and my breathing was clear for the first time in days.
Then my cat knocked a teapot off the top of the fridge where it shattered on the floor, and my allergies were instantly back in charge. But for a few minutes, I was free, and I knew I could be again.
Everybody is creative — everybody.
Don’t give me this, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body” bullshit. You wouldn’t be alive if you weren’t creative. And if you are reading this, you probably are highly creative and hopefully you know it. Maybe you don’t value your creativity as much as you should, but you probably know that you have the power to take a thought and turn it into a thing.
That’s what creativity is: taking thoughts and turning them into things. You can have the thought of being hungry, and use that thought to create lunch. You can have the thought of wanting to do something different with your hair and co-create a new hairstyle with your stylist. You can have an idea for a story or a joke or a murder mystery and write or tell it. Maybe you have a gift for wise-cracking, or making bad puns (guilty!) or for creating song parodies on the fly for any and every situation. Those are all hugely creative things.
You don’t have to be a virtuoso or a visionary to open yourself to the power of creativity.
All you have to do is know that any time you turn a thought into a thing, even if it is an action, you are being creative.
Anytime you solve a problem by doing something a new way, or successfully using a tool for something it wasn’t intended for, you are being creative.
Anytime you change a piece of your life by making a decision and following through with an action that triggers a chain of events, whether for good or bad, you are being creative.
Anytime you sit back and refuse to take an action because you are afraid you’ll make a mistake or make the wrong choice, you are, actually, being passively creative, because stuff is going to happen and you are waiving your opportunity to make an impact – and that means you are actually making a decision to allow external events to take their course without your intervention.
Sometimes we don’t have a choice. People make decisions to do stuff that impacts us without ever once consulting us all the time. Congress does it on a daily basis. We have to get creative about the ways we fight back in order to maximize our impact and get their damn attention. Cities can decide to do a massive road construction project right in front of your business, making it much harder for your customers to get to you. You could experience a power outage that takes down your internet access due to the power company not keeping up their infrastructure. Or maybe you, or someone in your family, get injured or sick, and it’s all hands on deck for the duration.
Acts of God. Circumstances beyond your control. Gremlins. Bugs. Life.
The more open you are to your creative powers, the more likely you are to survive intact; the more likely the experience will lead to growth instead of stagnation or despair.
So how do you nurture that creative spark and turn it into a flame that you can control? Ugh, I think it’s time for one of those “7 Powerful and Easy Ways to Enhance Your Creativity!” things. Juuuuuuuust shoot me.
- Make friends with your intuition. Listen to that inner voice when it tells you that you need to wear blue today, or that you should pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t talked to in ages. Our intuition is the mechanism by which we are able to see “signs from God.” Stop looking outside yourself and start listening to your inner guru.
- Feel free to feel what you feel, and name it. Feelings are the signs from God that we are looking for. When you have a strong emotion, whether positive or painful, allow it, notice how it makes you feel, and give it a finely nuanced name. “Confused agitation.” “Blind angst.” “Focused timelessness.” “Weightless joy.” Saying, I’m sad, does two things to mess with your mojo. First, it confuses you with the feeling. You are not Sad. You are You. Sad is what you are feeling. Second, it is so generic that it doesn’t trigger you to stop and enter a state of detached observation, which is a state that allows you to digest emotions safely and with more ease. Feel it, observe closely what you are feeling, name it with flair and allow it to pass. The most intense emotional peaks last about 90 seconds. It takes longer to eat a sammich than it does to get through the worst of a bad emotion. Remember that.
- Talk to yourself and journal. Examine your life, deeply and thoroughly. You are your own very best teacher, and you know so much shit that you have no idea that you know. Start using your unused brain power to creatively solve problems and find wisdom. You are the best teacher you will ever have when it comes to you. Always look to yourself for answers first, and then if you don’t find them, look to someone you trust to help you find them.
- Learn the difference between “I can’t” and “I won’t” and “I don’t wanna.” I can’t is when there is something physically blocking you from doing something at this very moment. There is an issue with proximity, physical/emotional/mental well-being, lack of skills or knowledge . . . Otherwise it’s just an excuse. I won’t is when something is physically, morally or emotionally abhorrent or conflicts with your primary mission, or is a known derailment of purpose and passion. I won’t actually has more power than I can’t because won’t owns the choice. I don’t wanna is just that: this is an opportunity that doesn’t feel right, or isn’t appealing, or involves too much compromise, or leads you on a tangent that will ultimately distract you from what you do wanna. It’s not that you can’t, and it’s not wrong or impossible, it just feels icky. So don’t. That’s easy. By owning why you are saying no, you are creating more choices and opportunities.
- Acknowledge your loves and pursue them. Do you love painting? Dance? Have you always secretly wanted to be a river boat captain or drive a train? Start saying no to stuff you don’t love in order to do more of what you do. I always get a little annoyed by people who tell me they don’t have time to take a painting class when I see them posting endlessly about television shows they are “addicted” to. “So, you’re okay with putting your genuine desire and passion on the back burner because the new season of Gurm of Thrurns is about to start? Get the fuck out of my office.” There are people who are paid by companies to be on Facebook all day. You are probably not one of them. Limit your time there and get on with your life. Your very real life.
- Make friends with your fear. Liz Gilbert devotes an entire chapter in Big Love to this topic. I’ll summarize. Let your fear help you when you are being chased by wolves. Otherwise tell it to sit there and shut up. “Thank you for keeping me safe, but there are no packs of wolves in my apartment about to eat me, so . . . Sit back and enjoy what we’re doing now, which is writing a song.” The worst thing that can happen is somebody won’t like it. If you are writing to please yourself, who cares what anybody else thinks?
- Know that you are worthy of great love. The more we say yes to our creativity and no to meaninglessness, the more we love who we are becoming. That is the most healing thing of all, because when we get our creativity flowing we get closer to the Divine, and the closer we get to Source, the healthier, happier and more powerfully whole we become.
Creativity can be some of the best therapy you ever get.
I realized recently that I really don’t have a single guitar or violin student. I have creativity clients. All of them are using music to enhance the quality of their lives. Even the kids–they get better grades in school, enjoy listening to music more because they understand it better, and have a sense of accomplishment that gives them something that comes from within to create an identity around. That’s exactly why people who are recovering from accidents or addictions or mental crises are encouraged to write, paint, sculpt, knit, color, draw, play music, dance and chant as part of their on-going therapies.
But why wait until you need hospitalization to start healing from stress and depression? It is never, ever the wrong time to start learning how to channel your creativity into something that gives you real joy and satisfaction. Most of the people in your life will be proud of you and very willing to offer support by watching your kids, giving you a ride, or teaching you how to use the “record” function on your cable so you can watch Gurm of Thrurns after you get home from your lesson. If they aren’t, well, that’s another kind of Sign from God.