⟡ Holistic creativity ⟡

Exploring dimensions and wholeness.

Today’s letter is a thought experiment that inspires me.

I have been thinking about the term ‘holistic’ and how it applies to creative practice. My hypothesis is that seeing creativity as a holistic experience can allow for more fluidity and understanding in the ways we approach practice, simply by seeing it all with more dimension, and in context of wholeness.

Creativity: Nature’s original holistic folk remedy. ☺

Think of your practice as a multi-faceted three-dimensional figure, with different surfaces that can be illuminated at different times depending on the angle of light. The light is your awareness, and each surface corresponds to a part of yourself. My formal belief is that creativity + awareness can be used to activate different (and sometimes all) parts of the being, and bring us in closer relationship to our whole selves through this navigation.

The most simple and common way of perceiving our whole selves as multiple connected parts is through the trifecta of body, mind and spirit. This may sound cliché and simplified, but it works for me. There are probably more sub-parts and offshoots too, but I will focus on the big 3. I have been thinking about how these three parts are in relationship in creative practice, and how we need them all in individual ways, and how they need each other.

• What would creativity be if it was all in the mind? It would be thoughtful, but missing tangibility and feeling. And… we would go bananas. I, for one, get a little freaked out when I have so many thoughts with no outlet.

• One could think of art-making through the lens of physical, such as a developed skill. But if it were only the physical body doing the work, it would be lacking context, depth and meaning. Actually, it’s quite hard to do a physical thing and avoid attributing some kind of meaning to it.

• I believe creativity is of a spiritual nature. Spiritual can mean anything anyone wants it to. What it boils down to universally, I think, is that true inspiration (you know, that really good stuff that feels alive) often comes to us from unimaginable and mysterious, yet very aligned, sources from.. I don’t know, the beyond? Whatever it is, it feels like spirit to me. Creativity isn’t only spirit, though. If it was, it would all be ethereal, longing in the void to make an impression.

Creativity is a translation of the spirit through the mind and out the body.

I love this. Now we’re getting somewhere…

When I am harvesting inspiration, I am accessing my spirit. When I am conceptualizing, I am directing my mind, and when I execute, I utilize my body. Team work makes the dream work!

When I think about the roles of the mind, body and spirit, I also think about the questions of WHAT, HOW and WHY? Like this:

MIND. The mind is the thought space and corresponds creatively to the WHAT. The logical part of the process. What would I like to make? What ideas do I have? What is the subject? What is the context? This is largely all about thought. Logic helps us by creating structure and bringing critical thinking into the practice. An equal part in engaging with the mind in serving your practice is to say NO THANK YOU to the mind. Too much logic can sometimes get in the way of creative instinct. Sometimes creative instinct is not logical, but it can be marvelous. Having enough logic to know when to kindly escort logic out the door is a mind bending super power.

BODY. Acts of creativity can bring us into union with our bodies. The body is the physical space and corresponds creatively to the HOW. The means of creation. How will I create this? How will I use this medium and my materials? How will I use my senses to process and my body to create? We need our bodies in order to be human and therefore engage with the creative process. Body is our truest gift as earth-beings because it enables us to express in the physical realm. Bodies also need rest and care. To care for our practice in the fullest starts with care for the body. 

SPIRIT. The spirit is the space that channels true inspiration and corresponds creatively to the WHY. The depth in the purpose. Why am I engaging with this practice? Why am I drawn to this? Why me? Why now? Why is this idea presenting itself? Why am I here? Why do I feel this calling to create? This is my favorite part of practice, and also the flame I rekindle when I need to re-orient myself in the right direction.

If you need to reconnect with what truly inspires you, connecting with whatever feels like spirit to you could help. This probably just means reconnecting with the why. My next newsletter is all about the deep deep why.

For now, observe how the parts of yourself function in your practice. Use them to your advantage. Ask yourself: what is needed? Sometimes there is a need for the body, for the mind, and for the spirit. Sometimes these are microscopic moments, sometimes these are seasons that last whole long stretches of time.

This also means… not all of the weight is on one part of yourself. You can redirect! This is a wonderful tool. For example, if you’re having a hard time with inspiration, what if you shifted to focus on the physical? For me that just means pure physical study, painting shapes for fun, mixing colors, getting better at using a paintbrush, trying a new technique as an experiment, whether it means anything or not, or even if I like it or not. No expectations, no story, nothing to prove, just physical exploration. And then you know what sometimes happens? I start getting inspired inadvertently!

Or, say you’re not feeling like doing anything physically or can’t for any circumstance, maybe this is the part of your practice to ideate, journal, ask yourself questions, get inspired, or get clear about your ideas and concepts, try to make sense of your experience, reflect. Maybe this then really sparks the motivation to act!

See, when one part is feeling dormant, that’s ok, because there are other parts to shine the light on, and they all can give life to one another. A creative practice for me doesn’t just mean painting and painting and painting. Sometimes it looks like going outside, looking at the ground, contemplating life, doing research, meditating, surrendering, reading, talking to a friend, thinking about why I am interested in what I am interested in, stumbling into synchronicities…

If you are just beginning your practice, shifting or trying something new, or even if you are deep into a practice, it might be helpful to consider the following prompts:

What are the roles of your mind, body and spirit in your creative practice?

Are there other parts of yourself that come up that you can define?

When one part of you is dormant, where else might life emerge?

Start feeling into when different parts of yourself are called at different times, accept them as little personal seasons, and try to see patterns over time.

These are great starting points. These can be great middle points. They can also be great ending points. Actually, time is irrelevant and nothing is linear! *celebratory fog horn sounds*

I hope this topic of ⟡ holistic creativity ⟡ is as inspiring to you as it is to me. Too mystical for you? That’s ok! I am unapologetically and shamelessly choosing to just embrace the woo and be myself. Anyway, I would love to hear what you think.

Also, thank you for subscribing! Wow, I wasn’t expecting many subscribers at all and I’m really happy to know this may be interesting enough to a couple hundred or so people! If you find it to be enjoyable, I would absolutely love it if you shared with a friend.

♡ Keep practicing ♡