Can ‘Healing’ Make Us Too Tame?
Does our version of healing, tame us into submission?
Is our desire for domesticity, over-riding our call to the wild?
How can maintaining originality help us navigate the rough terrain of life with innovation?
Is our potential for pleasure, and even bliss, being forced into the background in the name of moderation?
“Learning to See in the Light” 2010 by Shiloh Sophia
BECOMING TOO TAME and FEARING THE WILD SELF
To summon the inner outlaws
won’t take extraordinary measures
for they are always listening at the gates
waiting to break free, break in, break out
Once they hear your voice respond
to the cries from inside, they won’t stop asking
Give them a pen, a paintbrush, a bell, a drum
a slim volume of verse or an invitation to tea
Don’t expect niceties, though words will be said
Don’t expect apologies or exhortations
Give them some room to expand into being
They carry medicine for our too-tame-times
Those who have been accused before
Who clamor within for a position at the front
Will soon enough be enchanting you
Stories from the edge of time will be spoken
So if your inner outlaws are bending your ear…
Listen up…Listen in…
I am writing today to explore an idea about healing that has been on my mind and heart a lot lately. As you likely know, I work with a lot of women, so I hear a lot of stories. 25 years of stories. What I find is that so many of us need an invitation to get more free, more self expressed, less apologetic and have more access to our intuition.
I don’t find a lot of women who are too big for their britches, think they are ‘all that’, have ideas way too out of the box, or that are just too wild for words. I don’t see much of inflated egos actually. I see us becoming more and more conservative as we seek to survive in our current paradigm. Trimming the edges and the hedges to be more invisible, call less attention to ourselves, and to not invite further attack, the ‘you don’t see me’ posture. There are good reasons for that, and I too have an invisible cape as needed.
The challenge is, hiding has become habit. Even when we don’t need to hide anymore, like in our women’s circle or a place we feel safe, many of us still keep most of our colors under wraps. Or when we are at the canvas or at the drum or at the writing desk, we STILL don’t self express in our own personal space. We aren’t free in ourselves. Ouch. Not free in front of others is one thing, not free in our own soul space is what I am exploring here.
Let’s be clear, we have done a lot of healing to get our sh*t together and I applaud us for that. But something is bugging me… I wonder, if aspects of that healing have left us thinking that a good life means that nothing is out of place? Nothing wobbles, nothing worthwhile is in the shadows, and that novelty and curiosity are optional and occasional.
Have we put the great mystery out with the compost?
What’s up? What’s down? What’s coming through for you?
Certainly this silencing of the wild self is not in all cases, all the time. And it is not just my personal experience I am speaking to – but what I see and hear a lot. And certainly continued healing is needed, but after the initial healing journey, where is the invitation to dance with shoes off, hair flying, heart out and colors flying? I am suggesting that after the ‘return home’ from any quest and some cleaning up of our messes – there is something to be considered about our own authentic self expression and the role that plays in healing as a whole, in living out our healing in our day to day lives.
I am concerned that some of our healing practices may result in curbing our wildness too much. Our desire for the ‘ever illusive balance’ may be dimming the spectrum of our eccentricities. Clipping the wild wings that long for freedom. Trimming up our jagged edges where the magic resides. Dulling the colors of our inner landscape. Fogging out the vibrancy and calling it normalcy.
Originality lives within each of us, but is often only celebrated by those who are ‘talented’ in expressing their originality. The rest of us may be seeking conformity in a desire to fit in, be loved, and survive. We may be dumbing down our own original voice as an act of self preservation. Yet that original voice may soon insist on an audience. It may come out in ways you do not expect. This part of you, may turn on you (as the critic) or turn on someone else (blaming others for your being unhappy). If we are lucky or perhaps clever, the inner outlaws will arrive on our doorstep laden with possibilities we didn’t dare consider.
Each person must define for themselves what healing looks like. We know this. Yet authoring this awareness needs further curation. We don’t learn early enough that our journey is very unique to our own being, and that discovering it for ourselves may be essential. One size does not fit all. What if nurturing these untamable parts of ourselves is part of the key to staying alive? What if ‘staying weird’ is part of the medicine? Just how weird, may be the question…just how wild is allowable?
Our contexts demand the adjusting of wildness in children, almost from the beginning. We wonder if the child is ‘socializing well’ and define for them what we think that means. Meanwhile, the inner world of the child often goes neglected after ‘imagination’ turns to homework. Should the backpacks of children become so heavy so soon after the crayons are put away in the kitchen drawer and the art is removed from the fridge? Too often, this transition is NOT well narrated.
We lose access to the hidden domains too soon. It may be a long time before we get back “in”. Yet the desire to return will always be with us, because vivid imagination lives on in us, even if we aren’t making use of it, in the way that we could.
Our imagination can help us heal from trauma. As we know, the impact of trauma goes everywhere in us (mind, body, spirit, field, story), so trying to heal it through talking, energy work, or body work without those being somehow linked, is a long road. We do our best to link modalities, to find the thread. Imagination can help us link the modalities and create a context for the journey. The one who is capable of telling the healing story needs nurturing, and that one is often hidden from view and is connected with the wildest part of who we are.
I believe each soul has their own information. I know that access to that information is often hidden for much of our lives. I hold dear the experience that gaining access to that hidden, albeit often swampy terrain, can be life saving. I am also aware that some of us can get stuck there and not be able to come back out easily. Yet it is TIME for us to try harder and work smarter to link up the modalities in fresh ways AND invite the realm of imagination to play the key role. Trauma lands everywhere in us, but so does our imagination permeate everywhere in us. Yet we have to ‘ask and engage’ with that imagination for it to turn on.
How can we keep accessing the richness, the fertile darkness, the unexplored, the usefulness of the hard stories in the past, the light from the wound? I believe healing the imagination is one of the pure links to healing trauma that can keep the channel open to wildness. Yet this way of working with ourselves and others must be chosen. This awareness, to value the wild, is not a default and no longer obvious to many of our systems and structures. The Indigenous communities on earth have always known this, according to the mythologies we learn from them.
I feel like one of my essential and beloved invitations is the call to the wild that has gone dormant. The invitation is to come home to our innate creativity. The re-awakening of the edges that both cut and define. The summoning to the slumbering poet, artist, singer, storyteller, actor, chef, jeweler, potter, visionary. The makers I call! Yet all are makers.
Many of our mood drugs turn down the volume on the circumference of our deep seeing. Much of our ‘programming’ enhances the dream of ‘keeping up’ as primary. Some days, when the seeing of this paradigm weighs on my psyche, it all feels very enforced. This severing of our original voice, inner knowing and seeing. Is it a systematized, organized enforced reality? (This moving towards beige.)
I know it is not everywhere. Not all the time. But enough to make me wonder and ask. How do we maintain the wetlands of consciousness in the healing journey? How do we honor the badlands of our stories?
One of the hopes for recovery for the sleeping self, is to include all that has happened, to make it relevant and even useful to our current story. Not to make it go away, be dissolved or so transformed to the point we can no longer recognize the teachings. We need to honor the part of us which is resistant to domesticity and compliance. Note that I do not suggest that bad things ‘had’ to happen. Yet they just do happen, don’t they? We make what we will make of it.
Innovation, authenticity and resiliency are functions of a healthy imagination. I want to pay closer attention to the link between imagination and true well-being. Not a tamed version of ourselves that fits into societal structures. This means, that one of our collective assignments is to cultivate communities where there is enough space for the unplanned, imperfectly glorious spontaneous wild card.
When we first encounter this often hidden part of ourselves, crazy and messy and loud may be the most visible parts. Give us some time to see what may exist just beyond the initial outbursts. Give the wild ones a little more space within yourself and circles. There will be plenty of time for boundaries and protocol once the intelligence of rewilding has rejoined itself into the presence of being. Who knows how long this will take? No one. We just know without the wild ones, our circle of chairs soon ends up in squared, neat ordered rows.
True selves in hiding can become unruly. They do act out. Over time, we are taken out by them, and our addictions, or we stuff them down. We may even promise a return one day, but that day rarely comes.
Courage is called for. This is that call. From my heart to yours, creativity is the act that will forge the pathway to the inner world that waits. Maybe you have heard the cries from there before…Maybe you even answered and now you guide others to listen…
If you do not have a creative space in your home for you, your children or your grandchildren, please make one.
As for pleasure, and even bliss, engaging in one’s own creative flow can be one of the most satisfying experiences in our lives. For me, creating is pure presence, embodied access, when I feel the very most me. Feeling good can be a rare experience for many of us. So when transformation and feeling good are linked, that’s a really good thing.
When we become too tame, we naturally fear the wild self. When the wild self is too far underground or behind lock and key, we may find ourselves very disconnected. The wild self seeks consciousness at every crossroads. This is one of those crossroads collectively and individually. Let’s continue to do the work of waking up.
By wild self I mean the person who is sovereign. Who thinks for themselves, has cognitive awareness, is able to access their inner world, knows largely what they think and feel. A person who can break free of systems and is willing to not follow popular thought when it doesn’t feel right for them. You define your wild self for yourself, that is pretty wild right there.
Feel free to Share. Comment. Suggest. Inquire. Here
The most important part of this whole Red Thread Letter is right here – to ask you the questions….
- Has your healing journey made YOU too tame and in what ways? What about others you know? Children? Lovers?
- Where did this story resonate or dissonate? And do you know why?
- Is there an ‘inner outlaw’ trying to get out?
- Is there a form of self expression calling to your wild self?
- Do you have some wisdom or story to offer on this topic?
If you want to comment on my Artist FB page, I do read all the comments on posts like this 🙂 Comment here
Thinking of you. Truly. Lovingly. Holding you, and all of us, in my prayers.
P.S. Looking back I can see that this inquiry was a huge part of my choice to call women’s community as Cosmic Cowgirls – women who incorporate both/and.
From our research in the Intentional Creativity Foundation with over 500 participants about their experience with creativity:
93% experience creativity as a mindfulness practice
89% include creativity as a part of their spiritual practice
89% felt a sense of connection with the Divine
86% felt that their creative practice positively impacted those closest to them
92% feel that creativity influences their compassion for themselves
83% experienced compassion for others they did not know through stories they heard
80% said they would suggest creative process to others who experience depression
87% consider themselves self expressed as compared to before they were creating
86% said they have experienced breakthroughs and aha’s during creating
90% said they have experienced a shift in their default thinking
89% bring insights into their life discovered in creating
85% said they experienced an expanded sense of self
79% noticed an ease of physical symptoms while creating
93% experience creating as a relief/break that benefits their overall well being
90% have experienced a shift in recurring emotional pain through creative process
90% said that creativity helped them maintain a healthy outlook
“To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.” — Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays