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On Doodling, Screaming, and Playing in the Mud: A Glimpse into Embodied Creativity

Frankly, except for having sex or having babies, I was pretty much out of touch with my body for most of my life. I've always felt uncomfortable in my own skin and been physically awkward (my recent blown knee from simply bowling last week is evidence of that!). In fact, I've usually felt let down by my body as it has always been a challenge to maintain a healthy weight—and I have dealt with fibromyalgia pain and hypothyroidism since my twenties. It was only through the deeply profound human connection of sexual intimacy or growing and birthing four babies that I could get out of my head and deeply aware of what my body truly feels and is capable of doing.

Sure, walking in nature, yoga, and deep-tissue massage helped to "yoke" my mind, body and spirit together, but I never truly FELT my body; I was unaware of subtle sensations and reactions; I never made the connection between emotional pain and physical pain or dis-ease; I barely made time to take stock of my senses and instincts. I was hyperkinetic, hyperactive, and hyperaware, but was somatically unaware—even numb. Especially when it came to creative expression.

It wasn’t until I began to have more confidence teaching college writing in the early 2000s that I began to explore the relationship of somatic experiencing and creativity with my students—and subsequently, myself.

Intuiting that moving the body (more than just fingers on a keyboard) aids in creative flow, I encouraged my students to move around the room, have “snowball fights” with their academic argument papers, and write in the air with their fingers. I also understood that settling into their bodies through meditation and mindfulness would help them to understand where, when and how they write best and what interests them (you can actually FEEL lighter and tingly as you research or write something of interest). I even encouraged them to write long-hand on paper and make notes in actual (yee-gad!) books because the physical sensation of CREATING something is a more powerfully engaged one.

Now I am a creativity coach who helps my clients tap into their most authentic selves, their most powerful essence, their most clearest expression—and I employ oodles of body-based techniques to assist them in uncovering creative blocks and getting into their creative flow. What most are surprised to learn is that they can FEEL their way into creativity through somatic awareness, certain movements, specific stimuli, and, my absolute favorite, breathwork meditation.

Last week, for instance, I had a client who had been experiencing some reluctance about digging deep in her writing project. I led her on an inner-body meditation. (Don’t know how to do that? Here’s a simple explanation.) She reported that she felt tension in her neck and jaw—as if someone were holding their hands over her mouth and neck, in effect smothering her. She posited that perhaps it was a stored memory from being told to stifle feelings as a child. I am not a psychologist, so I don’t delve into the WHYs of a sensation or attempt to solve the problem, but I do propose that we free ourselves with embodied creativity methods. Depending upon the circumstances, I can "prescribe"—or lead my clients in:

  • forest bathing;

  • occupational therapy-inspired exercises;

  • drumming;

  • screaming;

  • being exposed to certain colors, sounds or scents;

  • chanting;

  • "toning";

  • creating in a certain physical position (standing, crouching, etc.);

  • exposing oneself to full-spectrum lightbulbs/sunshine;

  • writing on walls;

  • breathwork;

  • listening to music;

  • doodling;

  • gazing at nature;

  • playing with natural fiber;

  • using aromatherapy/essential oils;

  • dancing;

  • walking--or "finger-walking"--a labyrinth;

  • practicing certain asanas;

  • intuitive dancing;

  • intuitive collaging;

  • playing in mud;

  • ingesting “high vibration” foods/beverages;

  • yawning;

  • laughter yoga;

  • conscious breathing;

  • writing on various colors of paper;

  • and many other somatic experiences and activities.

I know, I know, this all sounds very “woo-woo”, but you can’t argue with success. Writers, artists, and students who have stalled in their creative process have been able to awaken to the delicious other-worldly excitement of tapping into their inner wisdom. The most rewarding part of my job is when someone who has had a book burning inside her for years, is finally able to unleash it to the world.

Eckhart Tolle says that the body is the “vehicle for creativity”. It is when you bring your focus and awareness--and BREATH--to your body that you actually transcend it; that your body and mind no longer stand in the way of you seeking and finding your authentic truth--the authentic truth. Sure, I could teach "the creative process" as known to academia, but why bother being ho-hum when you can hum with the vibration of the universe? I know from my--and my clients'--embodied creative experiences that if you want to harness leading edge ideas, turn your gaze inward to become aligned with source energy, then just allow your vehicle to open up on the new road of possibilities.

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