We are the only species on Earth capable of preventing our own flowering
The Creative Urge lives and grows
like a tree in the earth from which it draws its nourishment
Analytical psychology at its core emphasizes the process of individuation, a life-long process of transformation. Each of us is unique and called to grow in maturity through a process of psychic integration. How can we explore and expand our creativity in the process of individuating? What are some ways we can we develop our creative, playful selves?
Choose any art form and you will find a partner in the individuation process. Poetry, for example, chosen at random, can be used as a guide:
Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood
Dance, when you’re perfectly free.
Read the poem out loud several times and ask the question, what’s next? Listen and respond by re-writing the poem in your own hand. Some of the words in the original poem remain, others change.
Listening and then acting you write (as example):
Sing, when you feel shut down.
Yell out loud, when wounds are exposed.
Sing in the middle of the room.
Harmony in your blood.
Sing, when you’re perfectly free.
In the process of individuation we step from the personal into the unconscious realm, we dance with Shadow, dance with our Ancestors, and separate the voices of our parents and society from our own true north.
One day you finally knew what you had to do,
and began, though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice
— though the whole house began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles.
“Mend my life!” each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough,
and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do —
determined to save the only life you could save.
-© 1986 Mary Oliver from Dream Work
© Copyright 2011 by Mary Alice Long, PhD, therapist in Langley, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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