If you haven't worked with me before, my approach to sharing information might seem way different than how you expect teachers to behave! I can't count how many times I've stepped up in front of a classroom full of slouching, half-sleeping students and said "Get up out of those chairs! We're going outside!"
Some years ago, I realized how deeply my art practice was connected to my relationship with my body. If I was feeling good, taking care of myself, the work flowed. If I was depressed, not eating well, not exercising, I wouldn't produce anything, sometimes for years at a time. This realization came on slowly, as I explored the range of creative topics I wanted to investigate, looking for a common thread. Through collage, land art, dance and songwriting I wandered.
At first I thought the connective tissue was in the writing, the story—no matter what media I embraced, it always came back to the story. But then, as I conducted a thorough investigation of myself, my work, and how to bring it all back to the moment, I realized that the link between all sides of my practice is me, in my body. This body of course contains my mind, my thoughts, and my inspiration, but without a physical action, all art remains theoretical, conceptual, imaginary.
This realization snapped me right back, once again, to the work that has become the driving force for so much of my inquiry—Clarice Lispector's Hour of the Star. Early in the book, she writes, “In writing this story, I shall yield to emotion and I know perfectly well that every day is one more day stolen from death. In no sense an intellectual, I write with my body.”
The first time I read this, back in 2007, I saw it as a statement of humility: in no sense an intellectual. I could strongly relate to the notion of getting off the moral/intellectual high ground, and of seeing the writing life as a blessing, a gift that lasts only for that short time between when we first put pen to paper and our eventual, eternal demise. And perhaps that is what Lispector originally meant. But now I see that statement as something else. I see it as a call to action, a challenge to the writer to come into alignment with herself, so that she can do her work to the very best of her ability, and to understand that ability is synonymous with agility—strong body, strong mind.
And so I dedicated the bulk of my graduate studies to investigating the physicality of creativity. I read about embodiment, from a wide range of perspectives. I experimented with somatics, yoga, breathwork, walking meditation, writing drills, life drawing, and land art. I know it seems like an odd collection of activities, but I drew from my own experience to develop a set of exercises that combined a diversified physical practice with an equally diversified art practice. I created a workshop curriculum entitled “Writing the Body,” and tested it on several groups of people—writers, visual artists, musicians. Across the board they reported that getting their bodies involved in the creative process brought about artistic insights far beyond what they normally experienced in a sedentary practice. Together we determined that being in the body brings you into the present moment, and that is when art is truly made: Now.
What I learned in the practicum turned out to be directly compatible with the other experiential, inquiry-based pedagogies I had learned through permaculture, activism, and folk music. From this intersection comes the following theory and philosophy, outlined here as a checklist of elements to include, in equal parts, in an action plan that works to eliminate blocks (and the depression that often accompanies those blocks) and unleash creative potential.
I always tailor the program to suit the needs of my clients, but this is a description of the pattern I tend to follow, with a few examples of what we might do together:
This approach, when applied with focus and intention, becomes a toolbox that really works to help yo find the courage and the capability to push beyond your limits, heal your trauma, befriend the monsters under your bed, and create the best work of your life!
In closing, if you're about to embark on a course of my invention, I'm glad you took the time to read about my approach! I hope you love the course!