The healing creative process is often like a maelstrom.
The act of creating can be joyful and enlivening, yet when taken under the guise of healing, the immensity of thoughts underlying, and the belief patterns that accompany the act itself, make it at times an untenable and unbearable process.
Yet, it is in the learning to stay with the process that we are able to unearth the finer jewels of creation.
The art of healing creation is ofttimes like alchemy, the medieval technique of turning base matter into gold. In the healing context, it is like transforming emotional matter into tangible form. It takes intention to set aside time to work with the hidden and stored emotions of self. When the muse is veiled, it takes discipline to the craft itself, and to the practice—a willingness to siphon through the debris of life to ready oneself for the onslaught of starts and stops, triumphs and disappointments that catalyze the life cycle of a piece of creative work.
It brings up everything. Any illusion that I’ve been hiding behind. Any storyline or transference of emotion that needs to be seen or reclaimed. Any false role I’ve been playing while scrupling upon the faults of others or the world at large without owning my part. I see now that the need for validation still lives within me, the need to bolster a damaged sense of worth for not being seen.
The creative process puts me face-to-face with my shadow. Hundreds and thousands of thoughts and impressions in the middle of the night that instigate a violent tug of war of my better and worse conscience. The voice of our caregivers, the rhetoric of our peers, the unfinished stories of our ancestors, the ghosts of our pasts. All of this, in my blood now, as I haphazardly project my internal wounding onto external circumstance. Imprints and impressions, the realm of hungry ghosts—ego constructs that I built for my own protection, now serving as tyrannical voices that keep me driven to succeed rather than compelled toward the potential. As I circumvent my better knowing, this perpetuation keeps me hidden and resoundingly small.
It serves as a reflection of the parts within myself that I am too afraid to heal. If I choose not to heal, I project the attributes that hold me back onto externals. In other words, we tend to externalize the reasons why we are not actualizing our creativity, as something outside of ourselves, and we blame. This is a falsehood. When we begin to see this, it catalyzes an alchemical reaction.
Thereby, I take stock and inventory—recognizing that the essence of self has become lost in a compost pile of fragmented thoughts, ideas, and unfinished projects. Upon this realization, I rest, reset, and pause. Sitting with my discomfort, I become honest with myself. “Where have I missed the mark?” I then reevaluate, course correct, and redirect my aim.
Driving all blames into one, I begin to forgive myself for taking part in the violent game of tug of war for which I’ve been the instigator, perpetrator, and victim simultaneously. I begin to recognize yet again, the spark of light I have been hiding from in a dark room.
If creation is the in-breath, and release is the out-breath, then can we live one without the other? For the artist, couldn’t the act of releasing said creations into the world be considered just as important as the act of creating itself? In conscious abiding, we are taught to sit with the discomfort in the space between the in-breath and out-breath during meditation. Here, we find space in what Pema Chödrön refers to as “The Pause.”
In this pause, we begin to transmute discomfort by becoming more comfortable with discomfort itself. With enough practice, we begin to transmute this discomfort back to the source of creation. As Pema Chödrön explains the teaching of Dzigar Kongrtul Rinpoche in her book Taking the Leap, “Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering—yours, mine and that of all living beings.”
All emotional states are valid expressions of the human condition. Yet, our collective experience is ultimately defined by our openness and ability to give and receive love. Which is why I try to utilize my own negative emotional states as fodder in building empathy and compassion for others. I do this most often through the healing creative process.
We all find ourselves, from time to time, stuck in the muck and mire of human experience. Yet, through the art of giving and receiving, it makes the moments of being in connection more vivid and real. To then transmute negative states by learning to stay with discomfort, and to offer the positive state for the benefit of all, I believe creates a lemniscate (infinity symbol), and thus completes a full cycle in the practice of Tonglen, the Tibetan meditation practice of giving and receiving.
A realization comes through my practice, that I am the only limitation that has kept me back from healing and creating. I am the only limitation that has kept me from sharing my work. I alone have created the obstructions in my path.
Old habit will project this outward, yet it is I alone who keeps me from completing the alchemical circuit. It is up to me now to fulfill the life cycle of the creative process by releasing my work into the world. This could be considered my responsibility.
By doing so, I transmute the emotional debris of my human experience for the benefit of others.
Through this alchemy it creates the space to begin anew—again.
Dango Rose is a founding member of Elephant Revival. He will be releasing three EP’s through the Fall/Winter chronicling a decade of his life while in between tours. The three EP series is called The Forgotten Years and it spins like a written memoir. “The Forgotten Years Volume I” will be released on October 1, 2021. Follow Dango Rose to keep in tune and up to date with these upcoming releases.
Find Dango Rose’s album “The Forgotten Years Volume I” here.