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The Intentional Creativity Movement

I feel that we are all creative creatures. Some of us explore that aspect of ourselves more than others. Here’s a beautiful article about how we can change our stories/experiences through drawing. I found it here.

What is the Intentional Creativity Movement? 

We are a tribe of creative beings causing our own movement in art and image created with intention. I have worked in this creative technology for close to twenty years and thousands of women have participated in this work through making their own images and stories. A gathering is happening….the image of the feminine is changing in our own hands. A movement can happen when a quantum mass of people begin to gather and create around a specific theme or intention. Here is a little about about the story of Intentional Creativity as taught in the Color of Woman Method through Cosmic Cowgirls University. We call this style of painting – Contemporary Symbolism.

It all begins with a story, just like everything does.

I believe that story lives in image inside of our memory banks. So when we experience trauma or beauty, it ‘lives’ there and can be replayed by us by choice, and also not by choice. The ways memories rise for us is often out of control and we form negative thought patterns around these loops, which over time get even more ingrained in us. Like a groove that we keep falling into even though at some subconscious level, we know the groove is there. Because trauma can get stored not only in the spirit memory but also in the body memory, it becomes patterned into us in ways that we have very little control over.

For the stories to change how they live in us, we have to change how they live inside of us, how they are stored and how we relate to them. Talking about them through therapeutic tools is powerful and healing and has given a voice to the unspeakable stories. However, many of the stories, although related to differently than before because they were honored by the one who experienced them, witnessing and sharing them out loud – still many of the stories don’t change their domination over us. A lot of the grooves of how our old stories work are connected with how our brains work, which we are still discovering how to consciously communicate with through choice instead of random access. What if more than ‘talking’ and processing about it needed to happen in order to heal the trauma – to ‘change’ how the story lives inside of us.

How do we change our story?

We need to change our relationship to the story physically, spiritually and through ‘form’. The memory was created through witnessing and experiencing a form based incident – it was physical. So to change how it ended up ‘storing’ itself inside of us, we need to  have access to all three levels. Physical body- meaning our own form and where the story is lodged, Spirit Memory – meaning the way the story lives inside of the spirit of that human, and through the creation of a new story in the physical world – meaning the actual space and time continuum where the incident occurred,  where the story ‘happened’ which is what the brain and body use as their mechanism to form their patterns. Again, we have very little ‘choice’ as to where and how the experience lives in us. So how to get the story changed in the physical world becomes our missing piece in healing story by story trauma which over time creates an overall wholeness experience. The individual gets access to the stories that have shaped them, and their beliefs and they begins to be able to ‘narrate’ in the future, how story lives in them from now on, how an incident is stored up and handled by the body-mind-spirit connection. But also, they get to go back and deal with each of the primary stories of hurt and breakthrough so that they can more intimately work with the wounds, which often become tools.

Image is the way to change the story. But not just image that you see, that is a part of it. If a woman experiences a physical assault, images of women victims will trigger her own wound – this we know. If she sees an image of a woman of power, she can gather strength from that image to rise from her own story. This only takes her so far.

How this began in a therapist’s office

In the beginning of my career as an artist I worked with a woman therapist who worked in the mental health department asked me to photo copy images of my drawings so that she could share them with her clients who had experienced sexual trauma. She said there were no image references for them to use to ‘heal’ their images of themselves as wounded. I transferred the images onto stones, and she would lend out the stones to the women clients and have them apply the stone to their body in the place where they hurt. This was just the beginning of a movement that has now spanned close to twenty years.

After much urging from her, I created my first Coloring Book, Color of Woman and the therapists went wild, I could not keep the copies in stock. I had painted and signed each cover so it was personal from me and off they went to do their work. At the time I didn’t know that ‘coloring’ could break a psychotic loop, the books are now used in lock down facilities for women in the psyche ward, it helps them stop the pattern they get into that they cannot get out of themselves.  In addition to increase the ability to memorize. I began to wonder if they colored in a breast or a hip with ‘love’ for themselves. were they memorizing a new relationship to that part of them?

How making our own image is healing

Further on down the road I began to be ‘asked’ by moms to teach their daughter and children. I began to see the results of working with a feminine image that they created themselves, regardless if it was perfect or pretty – they identified with it as being ‘them’ and their self image began to shift.  Over time and thousands of books and students later I studied the trends and patterns that I witnessed in my students both on line and in person and discovered what I consider to be breakthroughs in the arena of how are can be a tool for healing. We have known this for a very long time and still in some ways we are at the forefront of just how powerful this could be in the recovery process. When we are hurt, our image of ourselves is altered and it is a long road, as anyone in the self help or healing worlds knows, from: I don’t feel good enough or I am ashamed to – I feel like myself. Long long road that becomes not a destination, but the path of life itself for all of us who are committed to healing and becoming awake in our lives.

So if making our ‘own images’ could help us change the internal image of how we view ourselves within, might that change how we relate to negative external images and how we let those images inform our view of ourselves and what we purchase and what relationships we have and how we treat our body – how we walk in the room and take up space is based on images we have seen and experience visually and physically. As beings of ‘sight’ our perception of who we are is informed greatly by what ‘see’ out there, which shapes how we ‘see’ internally and then how we see ourselves, but we have largely been just a bystander of how this seeing works. Having very little clue, no matter how smart or enlightened to work with how we structure this human design to recive informational stimulus from outside of us and how we let that inform our internal experience of ourselves – which informs all of our choices. Our story of ourselves, who we experience ourselves AS is what creates our life – if we don’t believe we deserve love we allow ourselves to suffer with less love. If we believe we deserve to be loved, we will continue to look until that feeling in us matches an experience of that.

Many of the images of the feminine are representative of women that we do not identify with, and yet since those are the icons of ‘what to be’ our chance of knowing how to shift that is rather intellectual – and most of us do not succeed in not comparing ourselves to other women. In addition the images of the feminine that existed for the past 50,000 years have often been hidden from our view and for many years we didn’t even know that there were images of the Goddess previous to the past 5,000 or so years. The movement of the ‘divine feminine’ has gone a long way in helping us to see ourselves as included in the creation. Even though we give birth we still needed to SEE the images of the Goddess to see that has life-giving enough to identify with it as powerful part of who we are.

There are several things that happen when a woman begins to create her own images. First remember, that almost all of us created when we were little children, crayon and paper was not just given to those who showed a propensity for creativity, they were given to all children so at some core level there is an understanding deep in the culture of our people that little people should experience drawing, which we do long before written language, it is our first language beyond sight and sound, that we make ourselves that is not really in response to anything external, as we are not drawing, a house out there, we are making scribbles on a paper, however incomprehensible in the beginning, that are our own language. I have worked with children and asked their parents to let me do their first drawing class when it was time for them to move beyond the marks on paper stage – I take their little hand and draw a circle over and over and then they do it, over and over and their experience of having control from within, begins with that connection point. This occurs differently than having them draw something outside of themselves to which they can notice it is not really ‘like that’. Teaching internal referencing can be profoundly powerful for the development of the individual teaching them how to lead with the right brain instead of the left as the origin of a particular action.

Is this just spiritual stuff or is it more than that?

We all know that the right brain and left brain function at different levels and capacities. Most of us are left brain dominant with some right brain sprinkled in. To change that and include more of the flow and image and color and light and insight of the right brain we have to choose consciously. The left brain thinks nothing of using the right brain in service to the desire of the left to make shape into form that makes sense and fits the boxes it needs to in order to sustain structure. While the right brain doesn’t always know it needs to connect to the left brain to make it’s thoughts and dreams manifest – hence why it is so hard to change our patterns even though we so desire it and how hard it is to create a life that reflects who we are. The right needs to learn how to include the gifts of the left, but to employ that we have to consciously choose how to use the right brain – to ask it to employ the left brain gifts in service to it’s dreams instead of the other way around. It is helpful to think of the voice inside of us when thinking about right and left and to imagine that the critic lives in the lift hemisphere and the muse dwells in the right. When the Muse is given the power to employ the left  the choices and results are different and often more balanced with the soul desire, and sustainability of that human.
There is a lot of neuroscientific backing to these thoughts, connected with how the brain works and functions so that we can study it and talk about it. Most of all, that we have the capacity to learn how it functions just enough to participate in how we seen and think and therefore act upon our lives. Through giving image and language of our own story we begin to understand what role we might have in the work of authoring our own future instead of just being at the effect of a life happening “to us.”

Working with art to transform our stories involved a process not dissimilar to transference. It is helpful in this case to think about a talisman – the creator of the talisman is literally ‘transferring’ their energy INTO the physical object. When something is transferred, there is an open space in the psyche.

When we create with intention we are making: Talismans

Talisman is from the root word in Greek teleo which means “To Consecrate”. The meaning of it has to do with the person who makes it, charging it with powers, blessings, healings through choice. They are charging it up, in essence, with prayer, hope, and dreams. Legend has it that the more specific one is with what they put into the creation of the ‘thing’, the form, the more direct the response is from the Divine. So often it is used in manifestation, calling in or awakening that which we choose to bring to our attention. The process can create an opening in us. Then we have access to information that we did not have before. Just as significant as that is – is the concept of transference. That we could MOVE a mind-body-spirit based story ONTO a physical surface (canvas) with the intention of changing how that story image lives in us. Finally, there is some psychic space around the gripping patterned synapses that have been living within us for so long.

The making of Talisman/Taliswoman is different than making an idol of something, as we are not worshipping what we made or confusing the thing with the divine. The act of making it itself, is what makes the opening happen in the universe for the information, the in-form-action to come through and is what brings our awareness into alignment and harmony with what it is we are choosing to focus on. It is not uncommon in the act of creation, whether that be a song or a dance or a painting or a sculpture or a soup or a garden or a necklace, for us to receive information, be in-formed by the process because we are focusing and paying attention with our deep listening. In anticipation we seek to be informed.

Bringing our intention to the canvas

This kind of working is called intentional creativity and asks that you bring your story to the canvas and into the canvas. We always begin a painting with an overarching intention. Then each step is a revelation in both consciousness and in design that creates the breakthrough, they just begin to happen there in the subconscious without efforting. The effort becomes the act of creating and is driven from another place within us that all of us have, the desire to express ourselves, to be seen and heard and loved, to belong to ourselves and to each other. When we create we are often creating from this place whether we know it or not. The choices to create with intention sets our brain into the track to access and employ memory and longing but we don’t then have to dominate the breakthrough  – it happens organically being carried by the original intention coupled with the creative actions that are based ultimately in movement, since we are moving when we add paint to a canvas. Connecting your intention, is like finding a clear signal on a radio that is tuned to a specific frequency that opens channels to the subconscious and unconscious that we are ready to deal with. The layers of consciousness then yield up into the creative process that which needs to be worked with next. Layer by layer new space is created. Once the story is transferred to canvas it lives inside of us differently – the way it used to operate is now dis-lodged and we can consciously choose what to do to work with the space we have now cleared up inside of our internal story pattern.

What is fascinating is that creating art is always good for us – but whether or not it is truly healing, because our brain and body choose to engage in that healing process, is through one specific thing. Our choice to engage ourselves in a conscious act of creating, instead of just creating. Many artists don’t experience their art as healing, although many would call it cathartic or life saving. Still, their capacity to use it as a tool to know oneself is dependent on one’s intention to do so – that is why we call it intentional creativity.

My own origin of intentional creativity began with a day in the studio of the Master Artist, Sue Hoya Sellars. I was wedging clay and complaining about how hard it was, how many bubbles, how many stones and how my hands were hurting. She is a chop wood and carry water teacher an so we had spent a long time digging that clay and mixing it to make our own. I just wanted to throw a put not make clay out of the mountain. As I complained, without looking up from stirring her tea she replied – you have to put your intention into what you are doing. She asked me, what is it that you truly care about. I said, I care about ending violence against women and children. She said, PUT that desire into the clay as you wedge. My whole life changed in that moment. I was set upon my path at the age of 23 catalyzed from that moment after a lifetime of my mother teaching me how to choose how I view the world and what my experience of it would be. And so I was trained and ready to have that thought about putting my intention into my work transforming not only how I worked but how it felt to work, and not only that changed the outcome of what was created, and the purpose that thing held and what its vibration was.

And so this is how this movement moves, one woman at a time. Through putting the tools of creation in her very hands.

Shiloh Sophia


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