Colouring Outside of the Lines

Many people are afraid of creatively experimenting with art-making, free movement, singing, or making sound. For a lot of us, memories of being ridiculed or shamed in our younger years during imaginative exploration resulted in big emotions and a steep decline in creative risk-taking. An invitation to revisit creative expression can bring up the discomfort of these experiences and many folks will, understandably, draw a hard line at trying or even being curious.

Over the years of facilitating therapeutic dance experiences, I encountered multitudes of people who are afraid to move in new ways. The colonized mindset of the inner critic stops people at the gate. There’s an idea that we need to be “good” at it according to the inner judge. Creative experimentation is not all about the outcome, though that is a part of it. It’s about the therapeutic experience itself and its potent impact on mental health, emotional growth, and nervous system regulation. How can we move in response to our own discomfort of experimenting or create while embracing what’s challenging?

Art-making, moving, or making sound can be a low-skill/high-presence practice of personal awareness. Trying something new and gently opening the locked gates of restricted expression can sometimes offer permission for hidden parts of the self waiting to come out. Our cultural conditioning locks us into patterns of minimally acceptable expression. Rewilding and decolonizing creativity are about opening the cage of our suppression to let more ourselves out to be lived and experienced. It can be emotional and tender.

A trauma-informed approach to holding space for this process requires consent & a slow pace for those who are ready to work through challenges, digest unprocessed emotion or grow creatively. So much of our power is locked up in suppressed creative expression. When we gently nudge the inner guide to take the reigns and come out of hiding with compassionate care and a body-centered approach we allow space for the extraordinary to land.

• doodle on some paper while you breath, look, listen, feel, smell, taste, hear
• move in response to how you feel
• turn your thoughts into body shapes
• hum, clap, drum on your chest in time with your heartbeat
• shake your whole body for a few minutes
• sigh with sound to release stress
• write a letter to yourself from your future self

Our imagination is a therapeutic gift and carries incredible potential for healing.
There is a creative genius in each one of us. How could you expand your range of play?

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