At a recent conference on Aging in Texas, I gave a 60-minute presentation on creativity and aging. This conference was held in Corpus Christi, and it was a first visit for me to this beautiful seaside town. When getting ready to travel to a conference to present, there are many un-known parts to the event. What does the city look like, the hotel or presentation hall, the room where I present… and most important; who will come to my presentation, will anybody come, and on it goes. Yes, there are many thoughts running through my mind, worries and also a feeling of excitement. That is when I hopefully become aware and turn on the conscious presence button, connecting to the stillness within. The more I practice this switch, the more amazed I am how easy it is to fall into that everyday chatter of unconscious presence.
Being in this state of not knowing what comes next, is of course also the state that may be felt by the participants coming to listen to my talks. Many of them have not met me before, probably most of them. Now they are willingly coming to a talk on creativity, and on aging. Two subjects that for many may carry a sense of fear. Well, going to a conference of aging, it would be slightly paradoxical to be fearful of the dynamics of aging. To be asked to create something on the other hand, seem to be up there with public speaking on the anxiety scale.
During the introduction of the presentation, the participants learn that before they leave the room, they will have made a self portrait. I see the visceral stiffening of their bodies, eyes glazed over with a glans toward the door for a fast escape. However, after assurance of continued guided lead through the interactive, with no expectations or judgment, participants relax into their chairs during the first 30 minutes of my talk. After this they are asked to write a poem, using their imagination of emotions of the five senses that brings information from the outer world, what we see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and touch. Their inner reaction, or listening, to what their senses take in, later became their “self portrait”.
Before beginning the poem, I provide a few minutes of guided stillness in order to reach conscious awareness. Inner stillness is central to reach our creative self-expression. When our mind is perpetually busy with intruding random thoughts, we easily lose ourselves, like a dry leaf caught in the wind and swirling around without direction.
Eckhart Toll in Stillness Speaks provides us with a succinct paragraph into the transitional wordless power of stillness.
‘Stillness is your essential nature. What is stillness? The inner
space or awareness in which the words on this page are
being perceived and become thoughts… When you lose touch
with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you
lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Your
innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from
stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.’
Poems were written by all participants. Most were surprised and walked away with a big sigh of relief, knowing that creativity is within each and every one, and sometimes we just have to be still and listen…