I recently was interviewed on two different podcasts about the benefits of creativity to mental health — Unapologetically Sensitive, and Design Your Dream Life. I hope you find them interesting and inspiring. Enjoy!
The subtitle of Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way" is: "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” This means she talks about God. Kind of a lot.
In my experience leading Artist’s Way groups, first as a coach and later as a therapist, participants have had varying responses to the use of the G-word in the book. For some, thinking about God in the context of creativity feels uncomfortable and too restrictive. For others, the way Cameron describes God in the book is much too lenient for their taste.
Cameron says the letters G-O-D can stand for “good orderly direction.” I would call it “flow.” Some people use “Universe” as a substitute for God. And for some it’s impossible to separate the word “God" from, well, God.
What does it mean to embark on a spiritual path to higher creativity? The answer is as different as each individual’s definition of spirituality. For me, it’s about values. Do I value being rich and famous over authentic artistic expression? Or do I value process over product? Or maybe it’s important for me to balance both of those things.
What embarking on spiritual path isn’t about, in my opinion, is doing things like everyone else. It’s not about copying and pasting and calling it art. It’s about finding my voice and connecting my voice to the larger, universal voice of humanity. That is spiritual for me.
It’s difficult to talk about spirituality because it’s more of a feeling than a thing. Yet I know it when I feel it. And in my Artist’s Way groups I try to foster a sense of belonging, peace, and unity.
Now if I could only find a good word for that...
UPDATE: Rescheduled to a new date & time
2-4 pm Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018
Did you know writer's block is temporary? It sure doesn't feel that way when you're in it. It can be helpful to know others are in the same boat, though. Feel free to join us for the next Unlocking Writer's Block workshop. You will learn more about why you get blocked and how to endure, and even thrive, during the times that feel empty and unproductive. You may gain a new sense of hope and appreciation for your creative process. See you soon!
Unlocking Writer's Block With Rachel Moore, LMFT
10 am-12 pm July 8, 2018
San Diego Writer's Ink
SDWI members: $30
Click here to register
Registration Opens Aug. 1, 2018
Someone asked me recently what my favorite thing is about my job as a therapist. I said it's facilitating Artist's Way Workshop therapy groups, hands down. I've been leading groups based on the book by Julia Cameron for more than 10 years now, and I look forward to it every time. There's something magical that happens when a group of people gets together to support one another in the service of art and creativity. And the spiritual element of Cameron's book adds a deeper dimension to the process.
I hope you can join us for the next 12-week Artist's Way Workshops in September, 2018, in San Diego. This time there will be both weekend and weekday options. More information: The Artist's Way Workshop
-Rachel Moore, LMFT
P.S. Click here to sign up for email alerts about the next Artist's Way Workshop. Please contact Rachel if you have any questions.
I was honored to be included with several other inspirational San Diego businesspeople recently in SD Voyager Magazine. Here's an excerpt from my interview:
"The thing I’m most proud of in my business is being an EMDR practitioner because I think this type of therapy can help clients resolve issues quicker and more effectively than talk therapy alone. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The theory is that during REM or dream sleep, the brain organizes memories in a way that makes sense to us and doesn’t cause distress. When there is trauma, however, this process can be interrupted. Memories can get “stuck” and become stressful, which can look like fear, anger, addiction, or other upsetting emotions, thoughts, or behaviors. EMDR can help move traumatic memories through the brain in a more adaptive way and reduce distress. EMDR practitioners do this by using 'bilateral stimulation' — either having the client move their eyes back and forth or listening to alternating tones, for example. It’s not known exactly why or how this works. There have been many studies, though, showing EMDR to be effective. ...
"What sets me apart from other therapists is my background in creativity. I’m a writer and a musician (I have sung on many stages in San Diego) and I know what it’s like to juggle a job and creative pursuits. I also get why, for many of us, art gives us a reason to live. My clients don’t need to spend time explaining to me why creativity is important to them — I understand it because I live it every day."
You can find the full interview here.
No one talks about how hard it is to be a creative person. Actually, no one talks about how hard it is to do anything. Of course, we talk a lot about how busy we are, and how it's hard to fit everything into the day. But that's just the ego at work; we get kudos for being so industrious. We usually don't get praise, however, for being quiet, thoughtful, and artistic.
After I graduated from my master's program, it took me awhile to decide what I wanted to do next — the 3,000 hours of experience needed before sitting for the therapist licensing exam seemed insurmountable at the time, especially after just completing 2 1/2 years of school. I started a creativity coaching business while I was still school, and I decided to give entrepreneurialism a try. It was a bumpy path. The first business development workshop I went to resulted in me breaking down in tears. No one else was crying; they all seemed to have it together. I didn't get why I was the only one feeling apprehensive and intimidated.
Later I asked a friend about this — we were both part of a co-working organization for women in business. Her reply was: "We all feel scared, but no one talks about it."
I find this is also true for many writers, artists, and musicians. It's sometimes hard to admit to our fears, worries, and anxieties, even to ourselves.
Here's the thing, though — that squishy, vulnerable place we avoid in ourselves is also the seat of our creativity. And when we expose it to the light, it allows others to reveal their vulnerable sides, too. And that connects us. I think this might be the je ne sais quoi of great art. What makes something meaningful is also what makes it scary.
If you're feeling isolated in your creative anxieties, you're not alone. Seek out help and support where you can (one brave woman at that co-working space created a FailCon, where we all got together monthly to talk about our biggest disappointments — it was fantastic). There are other people out there who feel scared, too. I think the best remedy for fear is connection.
No one gets out of here alive, but we can create some beautiful art, relationships, and meaningful exchanges while we're here. Have courage, and know there are others out there who, like you, are looking for a place to call home.
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Rachel Moore, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist in San Diego, California. She specializes in helping creative people overcome trauma and anxiety with EMDR therapy. Rachel also facilitates 12-week therapy groups based on the book "The Artist's Way," by Julia Cameron.
More info: www.rachelmoorecounseling.com
Join us for the 2018 Artist's Way Workshop therapy group. We'll meet for 12 weeks — 10 am-12 pm Sundays, starting Feb. 4. Please click here to add your email to the interest list. Registration opens Jan. 2!
My friend and fellow clinician, Joel Schwartz, and I recorded a Facebook Live video as a follow-up to my recent blog post about Gabor Maté. Our freewheeling conversation covered lots of topics, including the nature of creativity itself. We also talk about the push-pull dynamic between feeling compelled to express and desiring to hide our creative selves.
Click to 4:30 on the video to get to the start of our conversation. I hope you enjoy!
If you are interested in pursuing psychotherapy with either of us, here is our contact:
Rachel Moore: firstname.lastname@example.org, 619-452-1082, http://www.rachelmoorecounseling.com/
Joel Schwartz: email@example.com (424) 265-8185
By Rachel Moore, LMFT
I was recently invited along with a few dozen other mental health clinicians to a small, salon-style discussion with author Gabor Maté. When I had the opportunity to ask him a question that night, he told me I was wrong. And I’m glad he did.
If you’re not familiar with Maté, he is a renowned Hungarian-Canadian physician who specializes in neurology, psychiatry, psychology, and addiction. His basic premise is the mind and the body are inseparable. Maté’s books include “When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection” and “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction.”
Maté is also a Holocaust survivor, and he focuses on the effects of early childhood trauma in disease and addiction. In one interview, he said: “There are genetic predispositions to addictions, but they don’t cause addiction by themselves; they just increase the risk. In both animal and human studies subjects don’t become addicted if they receive the proper nurturing, even in the presence of predisposing genes.”
Recently I checked out a pop-up art installation in San Diego called Wonderspaces. One of the exhibits was Not Myself Today. It consisted of a wall of buttons with emotions written on them. The instructions invited participants to choose a button that showed how they felt at the moment. (I picked the "Awkward" button and wore it upside down, just to be cheeky.)
It got me thinking, what would it be like if we literally wore our feelings on our sleeves (or lapels)? How would we treat one another if we knew the other person was feeling sensitive or stressed that day? Would we be curious if we saw they were feeling proud? Would we be envious if they displayed their Zen status every day?
If you're someone who doesn't usually pay attention to or understand your own feelings (or even if you do), try this as an experiment: Each morning when you wake up, write down what you're feeling. You can use a journal or your phone or even a scrap of paper. If you want to, write more about what your feeling looks like, tastes like, sounds like. Get to know it and understand it.
There's no guarantee your feeling will change if you want it to, or that it will remain the same if you so desire. What you might discover, though, is you may have some feelings about your feelings. Maybe you judge them as good or bad. Maybe you judge yourself as good or bad for having certain emotions. Just notice this. Think about how you would treat someone who was wearing that particular feelings button. Would you judge them or want to help them? Perhaps you would seek to understand and connect with that person. Or maybe you'd want to give them some space. What would happen if you took this same approach with yourself? Try it and see...
To request a free, 15-minute consultation with Rachel Moore, LMFT, and find out how she might be of help, please click here.
Rachel Moore, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapy in San Diego, CA. Rachel helps writers, artists, musicians, and other creative types overcome anxiety, trauma, and depression. She is trained in EMDR therapy.