The importance of art and the written word

Art and creativity are spiritual practices, meant to elicit changes in state, ways of being, connection, perception of the world and other.  Some artists are very specific in their utilization of art as a spiritual practice (Hilma af Klint, for example, using art as communication with Spirit).  Indeed, many mystical paths are heavily and unapologetically artistic, with mystics  manifesting  art in a variety of forms from spiritual journeys and knowing of “God”/ Life/Source to express their (re)visioning of the world.  Think of the dancing Sufis and Rumi’s poetry.

 

The written word and specifically, poetry, is the artistic modality I gravitate toward.  Poetry is the languaging of the heart, the abstract, the metaphorical and intuitive, the unseen, and in all those ways, wholeness.  I have written my own poems for years; most personal alchemy rather than public display.  In the spring of 2018, I was called to poem bathe a friend, a local women's circle, and a national women's circle, in an odd set of coincidences.  I knew the inherent healing potential of words for myself, as a writer, and I was honored to be able to share this awareness with others - a witness to the sparks of life, love, and awakening that words can ignite.

 

The act of reading and receiving word, voice, poetry, not only has potentiality of healing, but is also an act of generosity (https://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/411697251/the-act-of-listening).   While it takes courage to write, it also takes courage to stand still, be open, and receive.  Thank you for being here.

 

Poetry changes the way you SEE yourself, others, and the world.  “Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.”  (Mary Oliver)

 

Poetry and Language “insists upon what is not easy. A good poem isn’t made of the first thoughts or words that come into your head. A good poem is never going to follow the well-worn path of habit. Language urges you to push against what you might think you know, what you might initially be inclined to draw from what you’ve observed and even what you believe” (Tracy K Smith, from https://onbeing.org/programs/tracy-k-smith-love-is-a-language-few-practice-but-all-or-near-all-speak-nov2018/ )

 

Never easy, poetry is also dangerous: “You have to have, at your access, in the midst of writing, all of your memories, all of your knowledge, all of your beliefs. And all of those things could get turned on their head — that what you thought was most valuable comes into question, and you have to be willing to go there while you’re writing a poem. It’s a very dangerous place to be. It’s the reason why, if I’m on an airplane and somebody asks me what I do for a living, I very quickly tell them I’m a poet. Then I don’t have to worry about them talking to me anymore. Do you know what I’m saying? Because people intuitively or instinctively, people know, “Oh, you’re dangerous. You’re hugely problematic. You’re asking yourself questions that I’ve been avoiding my whole life, and you think that’s a good time.” (Jericho Brown, poet, from https://onbeing.org/programs/jericho-brown-small-truths-and-other-surprises/)

 

Poetry has value in all arenas of life, including the political, as noted by John F. Kennedy.  “When power leads man to arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of this existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.” (emphasis mine.  See https://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-lundberg/john-f-kennedy-poetry_b_4333727.html and https://onbeing.org/programs/tracy-k-smith-love-is-a-language-few-practice-but-all-or-near-all-speak-nov2018/ )

 

Poetry is magical  “It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt.” (-Audre Lorde). Further, poetry allows for vitality and is a catalyst of social change, as Lorde explores in her essay Poetry is not a Luxury (https://onbeing.org/blog/poetry-is-not-a-luxury-by-audre-lorde/ )

 

Try writing, or art in any form. Even if you have never done it before.  Especially if you have never done it before.  There is no right or wrong way. Unused creativity metastasizes and becomes toxic (see Brene Brown and Julia Cameron); creative expression is a requisite to wholeness and health.  Please, don't wait for permission or payment for this "work" - just take it, this art, for yourself.  The world can never have enough poems or art or expressions of heart and spirit.

 

Other resources: 

My blog piece on creativity, here:  http://wildwomaninthesuburbs.com/reimagine-creativity/

Campbell, J The Power of Myth. Joseph Campbell speaks to the importance of poetry as a metaphorical and mythical language and view of the world.

A poetry pharmacy that dispenses “literary first aid”:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/25/poetry-pharmacy-set-to-open-in-shropshire

 

Workshops:

We will explore creativity as a tool of pleasure in an upcoming workshop called The Pleasure Project, see more here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pleasure-project-reclaiming-female-pleasure-tickets-63034072608

 

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Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT)

RYT 500, reiki master

Contact me: wildwomaninthesuburbs@gmail.com

All writing is protected by copyright. Photo is from Jana Blue Photography (https://www.janabluephotography.com/)