“As far back as Ancient Greece, both Plato and Aristotle made comments about the peculiar behavior of poets and playwrights. Aristotle was the first to note the relation between creativity and depression, an association that has also been suggested by modern research.”
Shelley Carson, Scientific American, Spring 2017
I am a multi dimensional spirit playing at being human. I believe that we all are.
It seems though, to many of us as young people, that others know exactly who they are. It seems like people have chosen who to be and/or just show up that way with mysterious ease.
I've been on a quest to see if all people feel like they have a plethora of people, voices, ways of being inside of them. Or do some people just have one clear, simple voice and therefore no effort or choice around how to show up each day?
I tend to think that this perceived need to 'choose' one way of being stems from worldly conditioning. Now, I know I may have an exceptional number of voices in my head. But intuition tells me, as do many people, that most have more voices in their heads than they let be expressed. All things that arise just want to be acknowledged. Some do arise as a result of poisons in our environment. These things we can choose to notice and not act out about, or find the proper venues to. That can take practice.
As I have been writing this blog, I found an article in Scientific American from which I drew the quotes above and below. The primary point of confirmation that i got from that article is that creative people actually have less “filtering” so we can literally be bombarded by voices, ideas, feelings, thoughts, impressions which can cause one to withdraw or go manic and act out. They can drive us crazy or be the rich well of material that we source our unique creative expressions from. These things can seem weird to others who have more filtering.
“Drsyam Sariram” is a Tantrik Yoga phrase that means “consciousness is an actor”. The idea is that Consciousness/ Divine has contracted to become each one of us - to see all that it can be, so it is natural that each one of us, as consciousness itself, would have the impulse to also investigate all that we can be.
A healthful bodymind requires observation, knowledge and expression of all aspects of ourselves. As Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not bring forth that within you, what you do not will kill you." (Thomas, 70)
My goal in life is to give people permission to be all that they are or might want to be, to provide containers for these expressions. It has taken me a long time to give myself this permission and likely I still have more to discover, since I am still alive!
It seems that I have cultivated a fairly good balance between "weird" and normal. I teach yoga to nice, “normal” people in therapeutic settings, at corporations and to the creative at wild crazy parties. I'm asked by my daughters teen friends, “how did you get here?”
How did I go from the identity struggle, showing up borderline schizophrenic, from being traumatized, drug addicted, suicidal, manic depressive outcast to being successful and confident on so many levels? It's such a great question and opportunity for me to reflect, hence this writing. I often think I should just say "do yoga!, do what I do, just do it!”. Yoga is ultimately about integrating and connecting all parts of yourself, all aspects of life. It has been a major support on my path. It could be said so easily, but indeed there has been a dedicated practice upon a rocky path to my current rewarding life. So here is what a few of the steps along that path looked like;
Noticing the Bumps - things to be wary of;
-believing the labels - whether they be from the doctor, parents or peers - you are more than any label could describe - do not believe the labels. The infinite universe created you.
- The repelling armor of "cool"
- The repulsive armor of "too cool"
- The trap of 'undifferentiated difference' or identifying with obscure trends. It may be different than the mainstream but this is not the unique you, this is subculture.
- Identification with subculture
- Judgement by or of those identified with subculture
- Professional rejection, or fear of, due to your out of the box choices
- Fiery spirit of rebellion. This may help you to break out of a mold, but might also be a wild swing away from your center, which is where your truth is.
- Playing the game, not playing the game. It's all about timing and quantity, most all of us have to play ‘the game’ (ie; roles) at some point, just don't take the game for reality.
- Thinking that you are different than everyone. We all have the same basic needs, meet there.
Steps- Things to DO to get thru to your power place;
- Cultivate a fiery spirit of rebellion with a wise sense of discernment. Keep the balance.
- Have a physical daily practice. Notice what energy or emotions arise each day without personally identifying with them. You are not your emotions. Let them move through. Emotion = energy in motion, or energy that wants to be in motion!
- Take risks. Go to an event wearing something that makes you happy no matter what you’re "supposed" to wear there, stay happy in it.
- Travel, go to new places, hang out with new people, go to the aquarium. See the truly beautiful weird of nature. Weird is good.
- Think of your uniqueness and creativity as your secret weapons.
- Learn to talk to your brain. I like to say, "that's nice brain", when it is saying things that once would have sent me into a downward spiral thinking how awful or awkward I am.
- I have come to know that my thoughts are not "me", they are not true, i did not make them up, and I do not have to believe or react to them. In other words, as one of my fine spiritual teachers says, “do not let your mind make you its bitch". Or as I will now say, “your mind is a tool, do not be its tool”.
- A teaching of the Yoga Tantras is that thought is another sense. So, just as we might receive any sensation, I encourage you to begin to receive thought in this way. Just as we might think, "oh I am cold" we do not actually believe that we are cold, and think, “oh my god, what is wrong with me!?” We know that we just 'feel' cold and it will pass. Next time you have a thought that might make you feel like, “OMG, what is wrong with me!?”, try to remember that it is just a thought. It too will pass if we don't make up stories or act out about it.
- I believe it is the identification with, as well as the repression of thoughts and feelings, that make us feel weird about who we are - or who we think we are. When we feel weird about who we are, then others do too. When you show up outside of the "norm" and someone, including you, catches you expressing yourself in a way that "most" people don't, if you hold on to feeling weird about that, it ripples out… Others will feel weird about that too. If you can go with, "wow, I just said / did that", and own it as a momentary, naturally arising thought / action, and not a big old 'weirdo' sign on your forehead, then others will let it go too. It may even spark the most interesting conversation that you have ever had. It may even give someone that you are talking to permission to express themselves honestly and spontaneously rather than editing or withholding based on their conditioned ideas around the things that one is "supposed" to say/act like, or not.
- "supposed to be's" are killers.
Yes, to some extent we need some 'supposed to be’s’. These are societal agreements that can move us forward more directly than the meandering that creative mind tends towards. But there is only one agreement that we truly need. I whittle it down to the simplest, (thanks to the Wiccan tradition), "harm none".
If what I am feeling to express will harm none (at least intentionally), then we are all good. Let the honest flow of being be...
Also, of course some editing is good if you want people to talk with you. If you just say everything that is in your head, then there is likely not going to be space for anyone else to speak. Take pause to savor, listen, and question, "does this (what i might be impelled to say) serve life?, does this serve the dialogue? Is this the right time/ place for this?”
If we are not considering other people in how we show up, then it may be that we could practice pause. Have compassion and listen to how others are feeling. Remember that we all have things to express, all of the time. Obviously, we cannot all do that. Maturity is knowing when to courageously express, when to allow space for others to do so, and when silence needs to happen. This is a practice.
Silence can be very uncomfortable for the insecure. When allowed, though, silence can be the greatest nourishment to the security of oneself or the situation at hand. Silence is time for the sinking in, for assimilation, processing, reflection. These practices are crucial to our becoming integrated beings.
I encourage you to aim for being integrated. Breathe deeply, allow the pause. Take space from your thoughts. Invite your deep breaths to embrace all that you are, all that arises.
Let the exhale release doubt, fear, and tension that is not serving your highest self. Inhale spacious, vibrant possibility. Allow yourself to just be. At your core, at your essence, you are whole, perfect, and beautiful no matter what has or hasn't happened to you. All of the rest is just the dance of life as it moves through this experience you know as "I/ me". You get to choose what to do with it.
“Genius can share certain potentially negative traits with mental illness, but when these traits are combined with specific positive attributes, the result is creativity rather than psychopathology.” Scientific American, Spring 2017
Let yourself be as you are naturally inspired to be. Love the divine gift that you are. The universe created you, and countless other awesome things that you get to celebrate life with!
Big love and thanks to all beings who have withstood awkward feelings and criticism and thereby given us all permission to be more creative and expressive! Cultural rebels spur evolution! You make the world a better place.
Keep on breathing through the awkwardness of being perceived as weird and find yourself stronger and an inspiration to the world!
Big love and thanks to Pablo for asking me how i seem to be so comfortable with being a weirdo and further inspiring this reflection and blog. Thanks for being such a brilliant weirdo, i really look forward to seeing how you grow with it! :)
“Creative individuals tend to score higher on scales of schizotypal personality than less creative individuals...study participants who score high in a measure of creative achievement in the arts are more likely to endorse magical thinking - such as belief in telepathic communication, dreams that portend the future, and memories of past lives. These participants are also more likely to attest to unusual perceptual experiences, such as having frequent deja vu and hearing voices whispering in the wind” Scientific American, Spring 2017
How to get more creative? That's another article in the works, and actually a class that I teach, rich with yogic and mindfulness based practices as well as theatre games, play and insightful rest!
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