Creative Expression as Self-Care
The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee
By N. Scott Momaday
I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of dawn
I am the roaring of the rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon in a lake
I am a flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche
I am an angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things
You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to the gods
I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful
I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte
You see, I am alive, I am alive
As a Creativity Coach, I play a role in assisting a client with clearing away psychic debris to discover those creative impulses that are sleeping in the dark shadows of our consciousness. With startlingly joyful, simple, and evocative techniques we shake them awake and march these stories and songs and dances and connections out into the light of day: curiously profound, uniquely theirs.
But, I find my most important role is not of shaker and waker, but of permission-giver. So many of my clients see creative expression as a luxury afforded to those who have specialized training, sustaining benefactors, or no “real” obligations to work, family, personal health. Ah, but, my dear ones, we absolutely must unleash our creative monsters into the world in order to tend to our health and wellness. They will sleep for only so long before they take a toll on our well-being by sucking up the very air that we use to merely function.
A comprehensive literature review in the American Journal of Health, explores the relationship between engagement with the creative arts and health outcomes, specifically the health effects of music engagement, visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing. There exists a great deal of evidence that art-based interventions are effective in reducing adverse physiological and psychological outcomes.
It may come as no surprise to you that dancing, writing, singing, building, drawing and other acts of expression positively affect our brain function by reducing stress and enhancing memory and cognition.
What may surprise you is that expressing oneself creatively reduces inflammation, deters depression, alleviates chronic disease, and adds years to your life. The researchers, Heather L. Stuckey, DEd and Jeremy Nobel, MD note: “Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing. The more we understand the relationship between creative expression and healing, the more we will discover the healing power of the arts.”
I maintain that it need not be “the arts” proper, but any act that calls on your inner wisdom and voice to burst forward —this could be decorating a room, building a business, photographing a delicious scene, or creating a mobile app. Indeed, my clients are often tapping into a surprising mélange of technological ideas, visual representations, memories, emotions, and rhythms that had never existed in the world before, but has been ready to be woken and brought into this universe and clearing away space for psychological and physical healing.
So, when you take time to create, you are showing yourself compassion. Do not concern yourself with whether it has “value” or “beauty” or “social currency”; it has the very thing that you need: you...alive, alive, alive.
Stuckey, Heather L., and Jeremy Nobel. “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A
Review of Current Literature.” American Journal of Public Health 100.2 (2010): 254–263. PMC.
Web. 31 Dec. 2017.