Last night was the first class of ten in the Creativity & Leadership course I teach at Stanford Continuing Studies. I’ve been teaching this course with my wonderful colleague, Hal Louchheim, for nine years now. (Hal’s been teaching this class for eighteen!) The class is highly experiential. Each week, we offer exercises and practices that open the students to their own internal world, the place from which our creativity flows. The class exercises are varied because we all learn differently.
As I led these students through the first exercise, I could feel, really clearly, the depth of trust it takes to go within. I know this from my own experience. When I first began to explore this myself, I was indeed a bit frightened of what I would find when I turned inward. For so long, I’d felt as though there was just a big hole inside of me. Would I find anything inside me? Was there something I didn’t want to see or know?
From a young age, we are taught to look outside for things – answers, guidance, advice, etc. And, in this teaching, we lose touch with not only our own internal knowing, but the idea that there even is an internal world to know. So then, developing trust is a key practice to learning to go within, to access the depth’s of one’s essential creative source.
What else is key? Practice itself. The practice ofÂ learning to notice the experience of being creative by developing the presence and capability toÂ bring it out without judgment and manipulation. And by creative, I mean giving voice (both literally and metaphorically) to the voice within, to what you hear when you go within and listen, then bringing what you hear into form.
This can be where it gets hard. To not judge the process, not judge the chaos, and not judge what we hear when we listen within. To let go of the expectations our minds tend to hang onto in order to feel in control.Â Our minds are so good at judgment, comparison, and critical thinking. Our minds love to ‘problem solve’. But our creativity is not a problem. It can help find solutions to existing problems, but not by attempting to control the outcome through problem ‘solving’. Creativity is our nature, not a problem. If we believe it is a problem, we are believing that what we are is a problem. And, I know many of us learn to believe that this last piece is true…that we are a problem.
As I facilitated the students through the process last night, I came to, once again, realize how vitally important the capacity to listen is. To listen. Not to listen so we can prepare a response. Not to listen so we can win the argument. Not to listen in order to defend or deflect. But to listen in order to truly hear.
To listen in order to truly hear.
This goes for listening to another as well as listening to oneself, to that inner voice that beckons constantly from within.
This kind of listening includes seeing, feeling, and sensing as well.Â It is a whole-body, whole-being listening.
To bring forth a new capacity, we must practice. We practice to bringÂ forth our ability to beÂ nimble and conscious and capable. I am not sure the fear ever goes away, but at least, in being nimble, our practiceÂ helps usÂ to flow with the fear.
Last year, I began to use a new wayÂ to help guide people into this internal world using an ages-old technology – that of the labyrinth. This is what we use in Writing Raw. We go within using the same methodology labyrinth walkers have used for ages. And we listen, feel, sense, and look with our inner-eyes. Our inner world is rich and full, and if we don’t judge it but listen instead, we begin to deepen our relationship with our vast creative resource.
I feel that this is the great invitation of our time: to come to trust the mysterious and intelligent nature of our vast creative potential so that what we create comes from the intelligence of life itself.
Our vast creative potential is life potential, and life lives not for itself. Life lives for life. When we do this, when we listen to life what we bring forth will be for the benefit of the whole, for all of life.
Writing Raw begins tomorrow, Wednesday September 23rd.
Writing Raw is a practice…Â a practice in trusting, listening, receiving, and speaking. It’s a practice in learning to trust not only yourself but also your sisters.
While we will write, Writing Raw isn’t really about writing; rather, it’s about learning to go within yourself, deep into your own inner world, then listening for that voice you’ve yearned for a lifetime to hear. Finally, it’s about trusting this inner voice enough to share it into a circle of women, and into the light of day.
Each week, for six weeks, we have two calls. You can come to one, the other, or both. Wednesdays 9:00 am pt and Thursdays 5:00 pm pt.
Each week, you’ll receive an original PDF highlighting a threshold to take you deeper into expressing what is within you.
This circle is powerful, transformative, and fun. I’d love to have you join us. If you have questions, please reach out to me.