art

On Mindful Creativity

collage by Chelsea Owens, MFT and ATR

collage by Chelsea Owens, MFT and ATR

Lately, as a way of engaging in this life, I’ve been shifting my attention as I wander around San Francisco, with the intention to creatively engage by paying attention to my surroundings. I’ve been trying to pay less attention to my phone and actually look up at the sky, clouds, at more trees, noticing their differences in shape and form and how differently they all dance when it’s windy. I’ve noticed short vignettes on my commute that make my heart swell up and remind me that I'm alive: catching a glimpse of a surly, tattooed, and mustachioed delivery driver head-banging to and blasting Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at 8am, or a small child’s innocent glee at the sight of his classmate, subsequent embrace and exchange of excitement for the day ahead of them. My intention is to write down ten new things I notice each day as a way to creatively engage in the world. It usually ends up being more like two, but a work in practice. Mindful creative engagement with the world could be play or it could be serious. It could be an afternoon adventure, sitting in a forest, chopping vegetables for a meal, or painting- all are our own response to the natural world.   

Creative expression and art can be utilized as a modality to explore feelings, ease emotional conflicts, and foster self-awareness.

Art making and creativity has a potential to fulfill psychological and spiritual needs through personalizing spaces, expressing or reframing a narrative of one's identity, drawing attention to the immediacy of the present moment in one's body, or practicing as a concrete tool of grounding and self-soothing. Creative expression, when shared or cultivated in a community, can foster a sense of belonging and witnessing. Through exposing your vulnerable self, and opening to the fear or possibility of criticism, there is immense healing power through communion with others in understanding how completely brave it is to share parts of yourself in service of the hope of receiving acceptance and love, as well as understanding how completely we all feel and desire the same thing- to belong. The therapeutic application of mindfulness, or focusing one's attention and opening up awareness, can reduce anxiety and stress, and increase our ability to open to oneself and the world by shifting one's perspective of the world. Psychologist Ellen Langer states that mindfulness, or the noticing of new things, leads to more awareness of how things change depending on the context and perspective from which they are viewed- mindfulness then requires that we give up the fixed ways in which we’ve learned to look at the world.

Naturally then, the marriage of art making and mindfulness would be assumed to increase the possibility of healing parts of your wounded self, communicating thoughts and feelings, and noticing the ways you are or are not paying attention to yourself or the world. Creativity is not something that some people have and others don't- anyone can be creative. Our creative nature is a part of our daily lives, Langer says, from the way we speak to how we express our culture, and even in the seemingly mundane activities. However, often people’s self-imposed judgments show up as obstacles to expressing their creativity, such as what the end product “should” be, how things “should” look, or playing a script of fixed ways of looking at the world. In art therapy, we often address this- it’s not about the end product it’s about the process. Langer said we distinguish the product from the experience of creating it, and for most of us it is a terrifying prospect to imagine being judged in this way. If only we could put aside our concern for others’ judgment, creative engagement could transform our lives through whatever creative endeavors we choose. We often do things we know with certainty we will be good at. We often avoid things we know, usually without certainty, that we will not be good at. Who put that criteria there? Where did the good and bad come from and how could you challenge dichotomous thinking?

Ellen Langer says the more mindful, the less self-conscious we are; the more we know what we’re going to do before we do it, the more opportunity there is to be self-conscious and to process mindlessly- art can make us more mindful, and being more mindful may increase our ability to do and appreciate art. 

 

“I am an artist…I am here to live out loud.”

— Émile Zola

Contemplation:

How can you let your creativity and expression play, explore and be open to the world around you?

How do you want to expand?


*for further reading: Ellen Langer’s book On Becoming an Artist is a great resource on this topic, as well as her book Mindfuless.

collage by Chelsea Owens, MFT and ATR

collage by Chelsea Owens, MFT and ATR


 

JUST BEYOND YOURSELF

Just beyond

Yourself.

 

It’s where

you need

to be.

 

Half a step

into

self-forgetting

and the rest

restored

by what

you’ll meet.

 

There is a road

always beckoning.

 

When you see

the two sides

of it

closing together

at that far horizon

and deep in the foundations

of your own

heart

at exactly

the same

time,

that’s how

you know

it’s the road

you

have

to follow.

 

That’s how

you know

it’s where

you

have

to go.

 

That’s

how you know

you have to.

 

That's how you know.

 

Just beyond

yourself,

it’s

where you

need to be.

 

-David Whyte


Chelsea Owens is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified art therapist committed to restoring balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Based in San Francisco, CA, Chelsea uses creativity, reflection, and expression with her clients to help illuminate communication from the inside out. Through joyful, light energy and her passion to empower retreat participants to access their true potential, Chelsea looks forward to help creativity flow at the  Wise and Wild Women’s retreat . For more information, please visit Chelsea at  www.chelseaowenstherapy.com

Chelsea Owens is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified art therapist committed to restoring balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Based in San Francisco, CA, Chelsea uses creativity, reflection, and expression with her clients to help illuminate communication from the inside out. Through joyful, light energy and her passion to empower retreat participants to access their true potential, Chelsea looks forward to help creativity flow at the Wise and Wild Women’s retreat. For more information, please visit Chelsea at www.chelseaowenstherapy.com


It's Time: Reclaiming the Wise and Wild Woman

Womens_Retreat_9233.jpg

It's not that she isn't there- in fact, she is right here and always has been. However, she may be buried deep, silenced, or asleep due to the patriarchal society telling us to be small, polite, and quiet. Don't move too much, don't speak too loudly, and don't make a scene.

Well... NO!

She has had enough- we have had enough- and it's time to AWAKEN the WISE and WILD Woman. You know who she is. Maybe you remember her freedom and imagination from childhood or maybe you catch glimpses of her in moments of creativity or on the dance floor. You probably hear her whispering in your bones and in your soul- to move freely, express fiercely, and create beautifully.

Now is the time. It's time to listen, trust, and unleash the Wise and Wild Woman within and it's time to gather and do it together!

The wise and "wild" woman is not some crazed, irrational, or over-emotional being. Rather, she is our natural, raw, and true state. Our wildness is our intuition, our emotions, our sexuality, and our creativity. Our wildness is our knowing and our connection to living our most honest and fulfilled lives. Our wildness is our birthright.

On October 27th, 2018 we will gather for a week in the nourishing land of Sayulita, Mexico to explore, heal, and inspire the feminine. Energetically, the feminine is the "Maha" or Great Creator. It is She that has the power to bring new life in the world- whether this be in the form children, art, or relationships. She has the graceful ability to influence families, communities, and societies in her own subtle and yet fiery way-  through words or dance or painting AND by her strong and loving presence.

The Wise and Wild Women's retreat will be an intentional gathering of women of all ages and abilities. Together, we will dialogue around and support each other through some of the most powerful cycles that are entry points to the creative- the menstrual cycle, sexuality, pregnancy and birth, and menopause. Together, we will build a strong community to be seen for the wise women we are and together we will lift each other up.

There will be individual and collective space to contemplate emotionally, express intuitively, and move, breathe, and create freely. This exploration, remembering, and owning of the feminine will not only heal and empower ourselves but also contribute to the well-being of all life on Earth.