Creating Stillness Excerpt
Categories: Excerpt Health & Healing New Release
She whispers under her breath that she lost her son twenty-five years ago. He mumbles something about the rejection from his first girlfriend he has never quite shaken. There are the stories of a lost mother, an ill mother, a broken mother. A failed marriage, a friendship turned sour, a love never found. Parents drowning in stress and keeping the cycle of pain alive for the next generation. Imposter syndrome, secret shames, and truths never once spoken out loud. Show me a person without a hole and I will tell you to take your shovel and dig deeper.
These are the holes that have been worn into our hearts, the missing and incomplete parts of ourselves, the great feelings of lack that pain us to touch. For some of us, a part went missing early on, maybe even started to take shape before we were born. For others, a chunk was taken out in an unexpected instant. Most of us have always felt a small, persistent pain deep down that we have learned to grow around over time. Whatever its shape or cause, when life leaves a hole in us, we are never the same.
We have names for some of these holes, cultural cues signifying their shape and impact—grief, divorce, low self-esteem, loneliness, trauma, and shame. It’s a first act of love to identify and name your hole, but to grant it further reverence, to let it be seen and known, is the ultimate act of recognition. Not healing, because some holes can’t be undone; we can never bridge the gaps between life and death, loss, or past harm. Instead, all we can do is see our own unique hole, know it, and let the light shine through instead of burying it away in the dark; after all, it’s in this light of being seen that we find our greatest strength. We can find a moment of stillness in which we accept the holes as they are, finding acceptance and peace.
The pain of each hole becomes compounded when we seek to heal or absolve our suffering only to discover that many of the tools we turn to are incomplete, or only partially sufficient for the job. We live in a culture that believes that we can, and should, be able to talk about and measure our way through everything. But some things are indescribable, even intangible, despite being abundantly real. The game is a setup, and we are expected to find our way through life with tools only partially sufficient for the job. A surgeon may be able to cut that cancer away with incredible precision, but they can’t mend the anguish of a cancer diagnosis. Your therapist may provide a safe place to speak and heal, but if you are unable to find the words to start the conversation, the discussion is over before it has begun. What if, instead of feeling like a failure when the support we received didn’t work, we make new tools available?
This book is about how creativity can become another tool, an ally, helping us to make meaning of our holes and to access deeper knowing from within. Creativity has the potential to be our friend, therapist, and witness, helping us to make ourselves anew or simply allow what’s already within us to shine through with greater clarity. Creativity is but one key that has the potential to unlock millions of doors for us. Once we have this key in our hands, the world opens to us in new ways. We find we can know ourselves and the world through color, shape, line, movement, texture, and words. We can create pockets of stillness in our lives, places where we hold ourselves with care, interest, and calm. I have used creative expression to walk through dozens of my own holes and have guided many others on their own path. Along the way, what I have found to be most useful is using creativity to help us practice mindfulness, help us find new ways to relate to ourselves, as well as our suffering, and find stillness in any moment.
Using creativity as a tool for understanding ourselves and the world, creative knowing, as I call it, requires a shift in how we make and how we express ourselves. It requires us to create without attachment to the outcome, to ride the waves of the process, and to pay attention to ourselves along the way. Many times, when we cast our gaze inward and welcome it into the creative process, we encounter strange connections. Artifacts, symbols, movements, messy marks, colors, textures, and so much more begin to speak to us in ways that our words have forgotten how. We must be prepared and acknowledge that creative expression may come to us in ways we can’t imagine right now.
This book is a gentle invitation to help you create your own stories and meaning about your own holes through a series of creative projects. It is an invitation to welcome stillness into your life through the creative process. As you walk this path, I will be sharing stories from my own life and creative practice along with others who I have supported and worked with. I will show you how we can usher some of our holes out into the light and see them with new eyes and understanding. We will explore different mediums and use them to pay mindful attention to our suffering, our hopes, our feelings, and our position in this world along the way. Through these processes, we will be returning to what the disciplines of Expressive Arts and mindfulness have long revered: we can make sense of things through more than our words and thoughts—we can know through creativity.