I believe the creative arts, with particular emphasis on writing, can take us to a place of healing away from our pain. For example when we dance or paint or sing or play an instrument we travel to a different part of our mind, our heart our spirit. We forget where we have been and where we are going and simply be. As artists and/or practitioners we need to revisit our core beliefs of why we embarked upon our own creative journey. I often go back to why I started writing. Out of loneliness, heartbreak, despair , sadness and rage I found words or they found me. I also think back to those incendiary moments and how I felt. That is the key. Feeling. That first flush of pride of self discipline of creation when you have written a poem, painted a picture played a few chords can resonate forever and we need to be able to offer our participants that same excitement because it is the same for everyone. And from that flood of positivity arises a plethora of ripples- self confidence, warmth, solidarity with our fellow group members, satisfaction to actual chemical changes in the body as endorphins are released and lift the mood alongside neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine that play vital roles in balancing the body’s emotional functioning. These feelings can take us somewhere else and in the blizzard of mental pain these ‘other places’ can be vital in providing respite from the anxiety, fear and loneliness that our mental health struggles can cause.
I believe the arts can anchor our souls in a drifting world. Even when things are dislocated poetry, music, dance, painting can gently piece the fractures back together, if only for a moment.But that moment is all we have sometimes. Thus, we need to articulate these feelings - for ourselves and for others who may feel alone on their own journey. I am adding below a poem someone sent to me yesterday. I think it is beautiful and check out Sophie’s instagram and twitter pages as she documents her story. Below that I add a poem by Rumi which I often use in my workshops, The Guest House. So read these two poems and see what feelings they evoke. Thank you Sophie and Rumi.
This poem from the 12 century Persian poet can be a comfort to those experiencing distress. Its message is one of inclusivity. Of allowing all emotions/ moments into the mind no matter how tragic or difficult they may seem. We can cope with them he says. This can open up discussion about our worries and anxieties and by sharing we feel a burden lifted perhaps. Try to capture these maybe in a group poem with all contributing a worry and a coping strategy.
As we get older our defences are weakened we worry more end up fearing change or alteration which in turn affects our mental and physical well being. This poem, even though written over 800 years ago, comforts us in its message that whatever comes our way we should welcome . Particularly evocative for mental health struggles as Rumi openly invites depression, anxiety, fear, despair into his house.
We can survive. We can tolerate hurt and pain. Do not be afraid. It will be alright. A glorious message to offer to the reader. I use this poem as a trigger for the group to possibly explore their own ‘house’ and what we welcome into , what we have kept out and how we may furnish it. Perfect way into looking at metaphor and exploring, in very accessible terms, how we can take realistic life statements into a more poetic realm.
Also, you may want to explore it as a group piece whereby you have different rooms with different visions but all linked by the concept of the house or castle or hotel?
by Sophie Mullins
instagram ; RunsWritesCodes
I have run, gleefully, away
from my old body
whittled it down to muscle and sinew and, yes, bone.
I have tapped out a new rhythm, found a better way to live
powerful (still thin!). So much finer
choking on bread,
crying over calories -
so much better!
I have run, gleefully,
into the wild alone
touching fear in high hills
when the fog rolls in
at how fast my salvaged body can carry me
because the whole world is huge,
not shrivelled, dry.
No longer a bird in a cage
waiting to die.
I run at the sun with a dragonfly
Tap, tapping out a rhythm
this body amazes me
after all i have done
and carries me
into the sun
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.