For the past 4 years I have been thinking hard. It started with my 5-year-old niece’s concerned question. “am I fat?” The short answer was no Harper wasn’t but I couldn’t shake my horror that a 5-year-old was worried about a thigh gap.
So I answered her as an artist and started to create an exhibition that showcased the reality of the female form. But along with this, I started researching.
The line of questioning started here: What can we do to help the next generation not deal with body shame the same way we did?
Then from there, I started to dive into several research threads.
- Global wellbeing frameworks – primarily eastern and indigenous mind body and spirit models.
- Self-compassion research
- Somatic research – Embodiment of trauma in the body
- Stoicism (this one really resonated)
I was working with women and youth and watching with the women the impact of anger and frustration turned inward. At the same time, I was studying myself and the unravelling of a thought stream that in the past had been like a steady dose of toxins that I self-administered. I knew that our family line was a role model of hidden shame and I wanted a different path for her and for all of the other girls I was working with.
Being an artist I was also very interested in the creative process and I had a suspicion that self-loathing could do a lot of damage to that process. My thinking was that each of us is brought to the planet with a job to do, a set of unique gifts and that shame buries and obscures those gifts.
We are like a radio that has 20 or so channels that come through it some more static than the others but there is one that when you dial it in you can hear it clear as a bell. This is when you are in alignment, working in the areas that you were born to manifest. In the areas that you barely recognize because they come so naturally to you. So when you are in this space and you get an idea it is translated clear as a bell.
The challenge is that sometimes there can be significant interference from traumas to our system. Sometimes these are mental, sometimes emotional. But often what they do is they get that radio stuck on a static channel instead of the tuned in one.
There are many references in the ancient verses to the number seven. So lets imagine that there are 7 dials on that device. Most cultures have a ancient belief system that centres on energy (and science is beginning to wrap its head around it). Energy is described in Western culture as vigour, life, spirit, passion, power, and electromagnetism. The Hindus call vital energy prana. The Hebrew name for “vital energy” is ruah. The Chinese define energy as life force, or chi. So imagine that each of these dials has a balanced state where energy flows peacefully through it and if you turn it down the energy drops and if you turn it up the energy fries.
One side is excessive restrictive order and the other side is absolute chaos. the sweet spot of balance is called Equanimity. I believe that in that sweet spot is where we find flow. Where we tap into our best ideas and are able to bring them to life.
So the trick is to keep the dials balanced.
I am going to write a series on here about the 7 dials and what I have learned about them and how they relate to creativity.