Recruiting Our Creative Dream Team

September 20, 2009

by Cay Randall-May…the Healer Who Creates

 

            When I recently wrote a course outline to accompany my new book, Healing and the Creative Response (see www.HealingCreativeResponse.com) I didn’t stress over it.  Instead, I called on my ‘dream team’ to do the writing.  This is the best way I know to get past any blocks to innovation and imagination.  This works well for planning any sort of project including reports, business plans, speeches, your next play or novel.  Here is how:

 

  • Review the task for about ten minutes before going to sleep.

 

  • Let go of the need to consciously plan the outcome, just go to sleep.

 

  • Don’t expect to dream about the project. You may, but it’s not necessary.

 

  • Be prepared to record the results of the dream. 

 

Be patient and practice. Your inner dream team may not be recruited all at once or

every time you try. The more you call on it, the easier it will become.  The results may not ‘download’ right away, in fact I find they often come when I least expect them.  It’s not unusual for a creative idea to pop into my mind in the middle of the night after I have set my intention to call on my dream team.  Here’s the deal:

 

  • Stress cuts off creativity, so wasting hours worrying over a deadline won’t help.

 

  • When we set our intention and relax, releasing the need to control the outcome,we activate what I call the Creative Response.

 

  • The Creative Response connects us to levels of imagination we often don’t use.

 

Creative ideas flow fast.  They may stick in your mind or fly through it as softly as a butterfly.  In either case, be ready to write or otherwise record them.  Then you can refine, edit, or flesh them out.

Creative Dream Team

September 20, 2009

Recruiting Our Creative Dream Team

 

by Cay Randall-May…the Healer Who Creates

 

            When I recently wrote a course outline to accompany my new book, Healing and the Creative Response (see www.HealingCreativeResponse.com) I didn’t stress over it.  Instead, I called on my ‘dream team’ to do the writing.  This is the best way I know to get past any blocks to innovation and imagination.  This works well for planning any sort of project including reports, business plans, speeches, your next play or novel.  Here is how:

 

  • Review the task for about ten minutes before going to sleep.

 

  • Let go of the need to consciously plan the outcome, just go to sleep.

 

  • Don’t expect to dream about the project. You may, but it’s not necessary.

 

  • Be prepared to record the results of the dream. 

 

Be patient and practice. Your inner dream team may not be recruited all at once or every time you try. The more you call on it, the easier it will become.  The results may not ‘download’ right away, in fact I find they often come when I least expect them.  It’s not unusual for a creative idea to pop into my mind in the middle of the night after I have set my intention to call on my dream team.  Here’s the deal:

 

  • Stress cuts off creativity, so wasting hours worrying over a deadline won’t help.

 

  • When we set our intention and relax, releasing the need to control the outcome,

we activate what I call the Creative Response.

 

  • The Creative Response connects us to levels of imagination we often don’t use.

 

Creative ideas flow fast.  They may stick in your mind or fly through it as softly as a butterfly.  In either case, be ready to write or otherwise record them.  Then you can refine, edit, or flesh them out.

Muse News

September 5, 2009

Muse News

 

By Cay Randall-May, Ph.D.

 

            My eyes opened at 4:30am this morning, even though the alarm hadn’t sounded.  Before I went to the gym for some exercise or had breakfast I was finishing a painting which had been resting on my easel for a couple of weeks.  Although I had tried many times to work on it during that time period, for some reason I couldn’t finish it before this morning.  The ancient Greeks would have said that the Muse of painting hadn’t paid me a visit until today.

            Muses were believed to give knowledge and inspire creativity in humans.  Originally thought to be limited to three goddesses, by 400 B.C. nine muses were recognized.  They were commonly worshiped in Delphi and throughout the ancient world.

            Most people today don’t acknowledge Muses, but it sure is great when my paintbrush skims the canvas in an effortless dance of light and color.  On some other days when it doesn’t feel that way it’s more like shoveling mud.  Those are the days when I  have learned to put the brushes and paints away.  It’s best to plant or weed in my garden, take a walk, or chat with a friend.

            Of course we can still produce something when we aren’t inspired, and I remember writing, drawing, and painting to meet a deadline.  The product was adequate, in some cases even more, but it wasn’t alive with my inner creative passion.

            Has the artesian well of creativity, which the ancients believed was tapped by the Muses, done dry?  If it hasn’t how can someone tap into it? 

            In my new book, Healing and the Creative Response , I describe what I call ‘four keys to healing’ which when applied in our lives can open us to greater expression.  The first step is to set one’s intention.  The ancients did this by making offerings and in other ways worshiping the Muses.  They actively invited the Muses to touch their hearts and minds. 

            Watch the words you use.  Each has intention.  Describe yourself to self and to others as creative, alive.  Have your tools and supplies ready so that you don’t need to waste precious energy preparing to create when inspiration does come.  Most important of all, listen to your inner passion and follow its lead.  At first the impulse may be very faint, just a nudge to write a few words, etc.  The more you allow yourself the time to act on inspiration, the stronger it will become. 

           

Breaking Through Creative Blocks

August 24, 2009

Breaking Through Creative Blocks

 

By Cay Randall-May, Ph.D.

 

    Are you starting a new school year?  Does getting ready to read that mountain of textbooks seem like preparing to climb Mt. Everest?  If you’re feeling a bit blocked by the size of the task ahead don’t be surprised and don’t feel alone.  Overwhelm is common when we start lots of projects all at once.

    One secret to breaking through creative blocks is to start somewhere; anywhere.  A good place to begin is to read the summaries at the end of the first chapters of each of your texts.  Set a timer to limit these start-up study sessions to ten minutes.  Take time between reading sessions to walk, do some free-form dancing, strum a guitar, or paint a picture. 

    Alternating between reading/ writing and painting/singing is excellent creative calisthenics.  Different areas of the brain are called upon during different types of activities.  That brings us to the second secret to breaking through creative blocks: go around them.

    If picking up a  paint brush seems as strenuous as lifting a 150 lb barbell, then take a swim in soothing jazz instead.  A dancer friend of mine reminded me to ‘dance as if no one is watching’ and that applies just as much to writing a short story.

    In a writing workshop I was handed a photo of an unknown man.  My assignment was to write anything I wished about this person.  With no one to edit or criticize my thoughts I ice-skated on the surface of my mind.  In two minutes I had named the man Bill, placed him in a bus terminal phone booth where he was calling his estranged sister.  She reluctantly agreed to give him a ‘loan’ of fifty dollars if he could get to her trailer before her husband returned.  Who knows where this fictional free flow would have carried me had our workshop leader not interrupted to ask us all to compare what we had written.  No one had failed to write something.

   In this case, looking at the photo of the unknown man had been the visual catalyst to writing.  Creative blocks usually melt away when approached from a different sensory path.  Blocks can serve us well when we realize that they indicate we are over relying on one limited part of the brain.  So, to summarize:

 

To break through creative blocks:

 

START SOMEWHERE

 

ALTERNATE BETWEEN VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL APPROACHES

 

DITCH THE SELF-CRITIC

August 8, 2009

 

DANCING Your Stress Away

 

By Cay Randall-May, Ph.D.

 

            Stress reduction plays a central role in healing and creativity.  That’s why activities, such as dancing, which can lower stress are so valued in times like these.  Last Friday evening, while on my way  to the supermarket, I noticed a line of people out the door and down the sidewalk in front of a neighborhood ballroom dance studio.

            Through the open door I could see eager jitterbuggers their silhouettes weaving colorful patterns against the polished wooden dance floor.  Watching them reminded me of how I became convinced of the healing power of dance. 

            My childhood experiences with dance were not promising.  My mother took me to one ballet class when I was about five years old.   When I was too shy to join in the group she didn’t take me back.   In high school physical education class I reluctantly danced the part of a raindrop, but felt awkward and embarrassed. 

            Prom dances at that time were more about flirting in a fancy dress than about expressing my innermost feelings through movement. 

            So, when a friend invited me to attend a creative dance workshop many years later I was openly skeptical.  When we arrived the meeting room was jammed with people.  Their body language and sideways glances told me that I wasn’t the only one feeling out of place.

            Our instructor carefully introduced us to Gabrielle Roth’s five essential rhythms or types of movement.  As soon as we got into them I felt overshadowed by the process.  This wasn’t dance as I had known it.  Energy moved through my body from some previously unsuspected source and I, the stiff-as-a-board, non-dancer, surrendered to the movement.

            Each dancer independently wove her unique path, enrapt in her solitary soul dance.  At the same time there was an over-arching order because our leader was directing us to use one or another of the five basic movements.  Together we were like a school of tuna fish glinting sunlight as we swirled in unison.

            Soon I forgot my reservations about dancing in a group of strangers.  No one was watching me.  I could be as wild as I wanted, and it felt so good to windmill my arms and lunge into an ever-intensifying cascade of movement.  I was like a swimmer being swept towards the apex of a waterfall.  Would I go over the edge of my sedate world into the abyss of freeform dance?

            Then the post-dance meditation began  and I melted into the comforting cool of the smooth, wooden floor, tingling to my soul.  For the first time in my life I had danced.

 

Excerpted in part from my new book “Healing and the Creative Response” (Randall-May, Cay 2010, Brooks-Goldmann Publ.)  available for purchase this Fall.

Creativity Comes and Goes

July 26, 2009

by Cay Randall-May, Ph.D.,   HealerWhoCreates

In ancient Greek and Roman times it was thought that goddesses called the Muses bestowed creativity onto mortals.  Few people believe that today, but everyone experiences times when they feel more or less creative. I will list a few examples and hope that you will add more from your own experience:

 

We usually feel more creative when:

            we take time to relax and be playful.

 

            we are around other creative people.

 

            we are going through a particularly exciting or emotional period in our lives.

 

           

We sometimes feel less creative when:

            we feel pressure to meet a deadline, as in a class or work assignment.

 

            we feel physically tired, in physical pain, or are otherwise unwell.

 

            we suspect that our efforts will be over-criticized or made fun of by others.

 

 

 

In a future entry I will suggest some ways to get in touch with our creativity no matter what else is happening in our lives.

Poetry is Bridge Between Literature and Medicine

July 15, 2009

            Healing, as I define it in my new book, Healing and the Creative Response, (2010 Brooks Goldmann Publ.) is “restoration of equilibrium through any means, does not imply curing of physical ailments, although it usually reduces suffering”.

           As someone who facilitates healing, I know that healing often releases what I call the Creative Response in both the healer and the person receiving the healing. This term refers to “the natural expression of inner feelings through self-expression often triggered by the healing process”. 

            For example, consider how poetry has become a bridge between literature and medicine in Poesia del Sol (Poetry of the Sun) a joint project between Arizona State University’s creative writing program and Mayo Clinic’s Center for Humanities in Medicine. 

            The project began for Sheilah Britton, managing editor for ASU Research Publications, about five years ago as she was completing her MFA in Creative Writing.  Although some might consider this depressing, she describes it as exhilarating, incredible, “a life calling”.

 Alberto Rios, the architect of the program and a Regents’ professor of English at ASU, called it “lyrical medicine” in an interview with Joshua Schoonover published in the April, 2009, issue of Phoenix Magazine (pg. 76). 

            Britton visits the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where she interviews dying patients and their families.  After listening to the patients for about an hour she finds a quiet area of the hospital where she composes a poem based on the exchange.  In this way she heals by bringing to light the inner poetry which she knows is within all living beings.

            “Just as life continues until the moment of death, so does the poetry”, according to Britton.  She frames the finished poem, printed on handmade paper, and presents it to the patient and the patient’s family.  Some of Britton’s poems have been used in the funerals of the patients. 

            The Creative Response can take any form: creative writing, music, painting, collage, printmaking, sculpture, pottery,dance, decorating, flower arranging, stained glass, sewing, quilting, etc.  I invite you to share your Healing and Creative Responses with me.

Hello world!

July 15, 2009

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