My favorite subjects!
… And also, what I seem to need to work with in this lifetime.
I know that I fulfill the archetype of the wounded healer in both these modalities, as neither has come easily to me.
I have had a lot of shadow material, shame and a massive inner critic/judge/internalized ‘woman’s union’ to deal with along this journey, and I’m really grateful to the seeker in me and to life, for bringing these modalities my way. I have experienced a massive amount of healing and integration through both of these paths.
Plato/Socrates; the internet is unclear about which one actually said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.
He believed that to know and understand yourself deeply was the only way to bring meaning and value to life.
I am aware that this is what we are all doing here essentially and it feels really good for me to be with you, in what Shakti called, a “temporary community of meaning.”
Creativity and sexuality are like a river of life energy waiting to be tapped into, all we have to do is remove the boulders/the obstacles that are getting in the way of our expressions, making us self-conscious creators.
I have been very fortunate to have my ASTAR Art Teacher/mentor living on the same block as me for about 17 years. It took a few years to get curious about what was going on at her house, with people moving in and out with canvasses and art materials, and eventually, I very apprehensively joined her art classes about 14 years ago. I had not done art since I was 12; I was literally terrified of it. I remember when my daughter was about 4, asking me to draw a bunny for her so that she could colour it in. I literally broke out in a cold sweat and started to shake. I was shocked by this response in my body, on a very visceral level.
A few years later I decided to do Lindy’s teacher training and I have been teaching this form of process art called ASTAR (Awakening Spirit Through Art) for the past seven odd years. I became completely addicted to the process, rather than the artworks themselves. I don’t regard myself as a particularly brilliant artist, but I still go to my weekly classes with my teacher Lindy Solomon and I love every minute of it. For me it is the constant discovery of more and more of myself, which has become so rewarding, and addictive. The outcome is always secondary to the process of what happens while I am in the act of creating, and yes, I’m also a Scorpio, so I love mining the depths, more than most.
Around the time that I started teaching Astar, I also discovered Shakti Malan’s work, “Sexual Awakening for Women” and eventually did her training in 2012, however I felt like there was much to integrate and embody before I felt the calling to share this work of hers with others. More on this later….
I’d like to define creativity here, from the perspective of Gillian Ferrabee: “Firstly, it ranges from the smallest playful expression to what we would consider high-level artistic expression.” The Process art that I teach can fall into any part of this spectrum.
“Then we have creativity on an individual level, it’s our own unique expression of creativity, weather we are photographers, artists, bakers or hairdressers and then we have creativity that is more general, this involves anything new that we haven’t seen before in the fields of art, culture, medicine, science, inventions… this type of creativity has an evolutionary quality about it.”
So I was listening to Gillian Ferrabee’s interview on the Body Intelligence Summit again recently, her talk was called, “Creativity starts in the Body.” She is the director of the creative lab, at Cirque Du Soleil media. “She started to notice that when the creative directors were trying to come up with new ideas for shows, that it seemed much easier when they were thinking about this, while being in the presence of the performers, who were moving their bodies in very extraordinary ways. So she started to do some more controlled experiments with herself, using her own body, and moving in ways that were outside of her usual default behaviors. She would, for instance, walk around her desk 3 times and then climb under it, while she was thinking about maybe a new character she wanted to come up with and she noticed that this made her ideas better, and that she came up with new ideas much faster. Later she discovered that science could actually explain this phenomenon, when we do new things with our bodies, this opens up tracks in our kinesthetic awareness, which in turn, opens up tracks in our creative intelligence. So asking our bodies to do something new, opens up new neuromuscular pathways, because it requires our full attention, which takes us out of whatever groove we were thinking about that thing in, and allows a new groove to be created, where new ideas can form. A very different view from how we were taught to think, which was to sit still, and focus all our attention on our minds.”
Also, when I speak about creativity here, I could interchange the words creativity with sexuality, being the self same energy that we open to, our life force, the life force.
To me this begins to start to sound like Shakti’s teachings around the heart chakra. She says in her book; “Dying to ourselves consciously and letting go of habitual patterns of behaviour, is the essential quality that the heart chakra opens in us.”
This enforces the teaching that when we take ourselves out of our habitual patterns of behaviour, that we can literally start reinventing ourselves, we can write a new script for our lives, that will become our new story that we tell. Once I learned how to draw, I was amazed…. I wondered to myself, what other things have I been telling myself I can’t do, that I might actually be able to do. So I went and tried surfing, which I found I could also do, I discovered I actually have really good balance, etc, etc. this is an ongoing discovery, but at least I have ruled out, ruling out possibilities!
This body is our vehicle to awaken through, it holds an enormous amount of intelligence. Embodiment is key on this journey of discovering the feminine. Just like we have had preference for the light over the dark, so too have we had preference for the masculine spiritual practices of transcendence, meditation, stillness, ascension, moving up and out of the body, over the feminine embodiment practices, coming down to inhabit the body fully as an essential step for us to begin really creating this life, being creators with life — not just trying to get away from our suffering. Otherwise we could just go and sit in a cave and meditate, but we would be missing out on so much of creation, the joys and the inevitable pain of life. Creativity and sexuality are like a river of life energy waiting to be tapped into, all we have to do is remove the boulders/the obstacles that are getting in the way of our expressions, making us self-conscious creators. The invitation is always available to us; we just have to take life up on that offer.
It’s a tremendous amount of energy we have available to us in every moment. To think that we have any control over it, the way that life wants to move us, is ludicrous. What we can do is, start letting go of our preferences (this is the 3rd chakra work of integrating polarized states), so when things arise, we can respond to them responsibly, and we can also open our bodies to this flow of life/sexual/creative energy.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, in “Goddesses within every woman”, writes about the energy of Aphrodite. She explains the Creative Process like this: “Through her flow attraction, union, fertilization, incubation, and birth of new life (a baby), or a new creation (an artwork) comes into being. Creative work comes out of an intense and passionate involvement — almost as if with a lover, as one (the artist) interacts with the “other” to bring something new into being. This “other” may be a painting, a dance form, a musical composition, a sculpture, a poem or a manuscript, a new theory or invention, that for a time is all-absorbing and fascinating.”
We also need to relax around our expectations that we have about the outcome, the product. This is the biggest killer when making art, and making love, for that matter; if we start to think about where we are going, or what this must look like when it’s done, we are blocking creativity, and sexuality. If we can stay in the moment, responding to what is happening on the paper, or with the clay, or with our bodies right now, being curious, staying alert, entering the process with the spirit of play and discovery, then we are creating like we did when we were children, and making love like Tantrikas.
Picasso said: “Every child is an artist, the only problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up”
When we try to control the outcomes of our life and our art, we miss out on all the discoveries, the juicy parts, and the magic. We end up just executing our well-intended plans, painting by numbers, fucking like porn stars, colouring in between the lines, and getting disappointed when things don’t turn out like we want. This is a masculine way of living, which is great when we have somewhere specific we need to go to, or already have a plan, that was discovered creatively, that now needs executing. However, true creativity is the realm of the feminine, the unknown, and the mystery. To play and create in this realm, we need to get comfortable with being in the dark, traveling without a map, who knows where you will end up? We will feel lost, when we create with the feminine, she is dynamic and chaotic and messy and wild, but life knows what we need and it will take us there without us having to control it step by step, moment by moment.
Creativity here is never an illustration, but rather an investigation into something, a discovery, and full of living questions that cannot be answered during the process. It is an enquiry, what is happening here? What is being revealed? What wants to be expressed here? This is about finding new ways to express ourselves, creating like children, being messy, seeing mistakes as opportunities to do something different, remaining detached from the outcome, being completely in the moment, with what we are experiencing in the body, through the body — what colours am I attracted to right now, what textures, what marks want to come through me, trusting our intuitive gut responses to all of this, letting the body choose, not the mind.
The mind has no place in creativity; it is only skilled in left-brain thinking, maths, language, those kinds of things. Often, what we are hearing internally from the inner critic when we make art is just the ego, identified with the left-brain, attempting to hang onto control, in an environment where it is totally unskilled and useless. As it senses the shift into the creative right brain, it starts to panic and then puts up a big fuss about what you are doing and how stupid it is, “You are not even trained as an artist, who do you think you are trying to draw”…. When we can just see what is going on, then the inner critic can be placated, gently reassured; ”Don’t worry, I’ll be needing your expert skills in a few hours when I have to drive or do my taxes, but for now, you can just take a rest, take the back seat, this has nothing to do with you what I am doing here, it’s just something I feel like doing, and I’m going to do this, so best you just shut up, because you are actually hurting me feelings and I’m not going to listen to you anymore”. Done!
When we stay with the process like this, then we have less chance of having a preference to the outcome. We have preferences about everything in society. We prefer what’s pretty to what’s ugly, we favour the light over the dark, we want the sweet experiences over the sour ones, our hearts open when we are made to feel good, and then snaps shut when someone insults us or hurts our feelings. We want to create art that makes us feel proud, rather than stirs up uncomfortable feelings from the deep. Again, its so important to do the shadow work of the 3rd chakra, to integrate so we can be with what is…. Marlene Dumas… eg. And Edward Munch… the scream.
There are a lot of different elements that need to come together in an almost magical way to create something brilliant/or of genius, this doesn’t always happen, but it shouldn’t stop us from carrying on creating. Marlene Dumas, the famous painter says that if you go into her studio at any one time, there would be 3 or 4 paintings that hit the nail on the head, that involved enough of that creative dance between the action and the response, that were just perfect, magical, but that there would be at least 20 to 30 that were turned against the wall, that just didn’t hit the mark, had something contrived or lacking in the magic department, that would never be seen, that were her own private process.
We compare ourselves to artists who have been showing up at their easels for 30, 40, 50 years and we say “We’ll never be like that!” Most of what we see in the world, is recycled ideas and inspiration anyway, artists borrow from each other all the time, creating from what they already know, making it uniquely theirs and nobodies, known and unknowable. Edward Munch, the famous artist who painted the unimaginable terror of “The Scream” said that he never owned this image, it didn’t belong to him, rather it came through him, a collective pain that we all feel, expressed through someone who was able to get out of the way long enough for that to come through him. Thank you, for expressing the inexpressible and knowing that you do this for all of us, something brought into manifestation, so that we can look at it, out of the shadows, under the light of awareness, we can own this, collectively, our terrible, unutterable misery that we otherwise try to ignore, at our peril.
I’ve heard Shakti speak about this in terms of consciousness, she would say, “Woman… are we going to just keep rearranging the deck chairs, or are we going to pull something new down from consciousness and create something entirely different in the world, from what we are seeing right now?”
Creativity can also be used for discovering our subconscious patterning, the part of us that is actually “running the show”, unless we are otherwise full awareness, being itself. Then you don’t need to be reading this. Jung said, “We live symbolic lives.”
Process art gives us direct access to our inner symbols. We literally pull imagery up from the subconscious and bring them into manifestation, making them uniquely ours in the process, honouring the creative spirit we came here with, by honouring our ability to create alongside it, and bringing something into form, into manifestation, where it can be seen and felt and most importantly expressed/integrated. It can show us the ways in which our unconscious material is running our lives and the keys to unlocking those shut doors, those barred places we keep hidden and private. As we open up the Pandora’s box of our inner subconscious lives we get to see the imagery of our make-up, we start creating meaning out of our lives. Not only meaning, but also poetry and art, the very things that make us human and unique compared to all other life on this planet — creativity, creating along with/as the divine. Divine will, our creative will. Our sexuality, as our creative life force energy, our Life, this one life. There is just one other creature apparently, a little blue fish at the bottom of the ocean, who creates a mandala artwork for his beloved, to attract her into union and new life, adorable!
On the one hand, Art is a non-verbal medium and it is also said, a picture paints a thousand words. It literally brings the unspoken, unseen aspects into manifestation. This is a very powerful act of creation, more so than saying affirmations or praying for answers in our heads. When we bring what needs to be seen by us into manifestation, then we can live with them over time. Artworks can speak, they bring messages, they hold a lot of energy and can work like slow release medicine, they will keep feeding us clues to our inner mysteries, our questions, our musings.
This applies with our sexuality too, when we start to let go of what others think of us, our bodies, our art, when we can give ourselves permission to create and move in ways that bring us pleasure without any expectations on ourselves for what we will do with this activated (creative/sexual) energy. When we make art, or make love for that matter, with the emphasis on the process, the journey, the moment, then we can find freedom in our expressions. Through learning to trust the art process, I have learnt to trust more in the process of life, and in my body.
We have a lot of conditioning to let go of here. The way society tries to control every aspect of our lives, including the way we move, sit, create. The way we were taught to write between the lines, to not make mistakes, be tidy, be presentable, don’t make waves, behave in a ladylike fashion-all of this and so much more has disrupted our connection to our life force.
A safe and easy way to start exercising this creative muscle is through art making. For most of us, there is nothing resting on this, we won’t piss off the boss if we make a crap piece of art. All we have to do, is respond to bodily impulses. Do I feel like using yellow right now, or red, do I want detail, or space, what textures am I being attracted to, what symbols are calling me, what images want to be worked with, what feelings are arising. If we work-play actually, spontaneously and follow our attractions, and revulsions for that matter (two sides of the same coin), we can bypass the critical mind and start to learn to trust our intuitive gut responses. This is so valuable for this fast paced world we live in where we are having to deal with so much input from the external, even down to discernment about what emails to choose to read or just delete right now, for fear of overload, rely on us being able to trust our intuition more and more. Again this permission to follow impulses arising in the body allows for the newness, the current, what wants my attention right now. Where I put my attention, energy flows, where I move, so moves my attention and creates what I am perceiving. Can I just be here, responding, from my centre, without preference, learning to respond from a deeper place, and trusting that, just because I can, because I say it is, because I just do it!
Our art making, can hone our intuitive skills, so we can start to trust these very subtle movements inside us, it’s a rather quiet voice, which needs a type of creative silence to be heard.
Our art making, can hone our intuitive skills, so we can start to trust these very subtle movements inside us, it’s a rather quiet voice, which needs a type of creative silence to be heard.
Safety - to create and to allow our Eros to awaken.
We have internalized many voices through our lives. The teacher who told us we didn’t have what it takes to be an artist, our mother who thought our drawing of a dog, was an elephant, our well-meaning grandma who kept telling us to close our legs, ladies don’t sit like that, our mothers who wouldn’t let us vent our rage. Besides our religions, cultures and governments, there’s enough shadow material in our direct families to keep us busy for a lifetime.
We internalize these voices, and they become our inner critic, internalized woman’s union, they lead us to compare ourselves, judge ourselves, constantly measuring ourselves up against the unattainable. This is devastating on our ability to open to our creative/sexual life force. We literally freeze up, shut down our expression, we become silenced, self conscious and defensive.
We have bought into the product-driven society of what is hip, cool, acceptable, palatable, and inoffensive. Then we feel we need to create in this way, that our art must be pretty and look good for others, or match up with what is being sold out there in the world, or the person sitting next to me, the whole world now, so the best of the best at everything, that’s who we are competing against these days, not just the kids on the playground. We have to be very careful; who and what we are comparing ourselves to.
We forget that this is our birthright and how by giving ourselves permission to create, we start to unblock, free up this river of life to flow through us. This is divine blessing; we are acknowledging ourselves as creative beings, allowing LIFE to flow through, one breath at a time. We are acknowledging our godliness. We just need to do it, in a safe space, where others won’t judge us.
It’s the same with our sexuality; it takes us, first and foremost to give ourselves permission to relax around all the contraction inside of us. This really has to do with our nervous systems and the defensiveness we have built up over our lifetimes. Sexuality is experienced through the body, if we are defending ourselves or judging ourselves, we will be pulling ourselves out of the moment, contracting instead of relaxing and opening.
This comes from Mike Luosada, whom Shakti interviewed on her Soulmate Within Summit; he was talking about sexuality and the nervous system.
He says the 7 keys to a great sex life are:
Our sexuality and our creativity is the realm of the feminine.It is part of the mystery, and all about receptivity.
It demands of us to tune into a much more subtle and sensitive voice, an inner voice that is sometimes soft. We need to listen more, feel what wants to happen and then become responsive to this.
We often begin in quite a spontaneous and wild gestural expression, making some kind of base that comes from a playful and free expression, and then when something has started to happen, we slow down and listen with our whole bodies and let the artwork start to lead the way to it’s own resolution. We need to stay awake through the whole process, not get pulled back into our habitual way of doing things, as the creative process is mercurial and can therefore change from one moment to the next. A real aliveness is needed to follow an energy that is always in flux, forever moving and changing. At some point, the process of resolving artworks aesthetically and our own inner processes merge, which is really beautiful to witness. Here, the resolution of the inner process, is in the resolution of the aesthetic, the two come together, and are the same thing, synchronistic, serendipitous alignment, a perfect moment, clarity, meaning, aha moment.
Ideas for tapping into the creative feminine flow:
All of this takes our courage!
Coming into the fullness of the 3rd Chakra energy and allowing this power to be expressed through the throat. Owning that our true power is the POWER OF LOVE, even if there is no immediate evidence from the outside world that proves to us that we are supported in this, that this is actually true, beyond our faith, hope and surrender.
This is where our creativity becomes our divinity.
Being able to identify what is truth in the world, seeing that and speaking that, or expressing that, aligning with the power of love. Our will becoming divine will.
Made me think of Ubuntu - an ancient African word, that has been revived in our cultural awareness in SA, the generic meaning is something around “humanity towards others” it is about the essential human qualities of compassion and humanity, and is often used in a way that implies, service to others, however I have recently come across another meaning of this word from my wonderful ASTAR Mentor, Lindy Solomon, which is similar but has a subtle nuance that makes all the difference to it’s meaning for me/us:
The expression of your unique spirit, as witnessed by your community
This feels resonant with Marianne Williamson’s very famous quote about “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” She goes onto say; “our presence automatically liberates others.”
Therefore, the more we allow our own magnificence, the more we allow others to shine their brightest too. The more we are able to heal and be with ALL of life, the more permission we give to the world to forgive our collective shame.
How could we be ashamed to make art, as I was at age 30, how sad, and how blessed I’ve been to have rediscovered this essential, life giving energy that I had rejected, cut off from, disallowed. I thought, wrongly, that creativity was for the talented few, the real artists, what a load of bullshit. Some of us are more practiced and in the flow than others, but it’s all about our attention and where we are choosing to put that. Maybe you don’t want to be a famous artist, you are just wanting to open to the flow, once flowing you can direct that energy anywhere, like sexual energy, sex is by no means the goal, the energy is pure, it can be used to create the unimaginable.
Me personally, I think I’m more of a writer and a teacher than a painter, for instance, even though I paint, I feel more creative in other realms. Clay, mixed media, collage, printing… love it all, will do it anytime, but writing, now here is an expression I’m excited about.
Watch this creative space!!
being love and service