Collective Wisdom from Creative Clarity Online

Feb 08 2024

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: "My sadness oh my sadness" Session notes from participant of Creative Clarity online.

During the dark, cold month of January, I ran a 4-week Creative Clarity course online. Twelve intrepid adventurers from all over the world, gathered together on Zoom for two hours each week to explore different methods of creative inquiry.

I offered invitations for meditations, movement inquiry, sensory exploration, artwork, creative writing, embodiment, making constellations with everyday objects, structured discussion and chat box sharing and the insights abounded! 

Wanting to capture some of the groups’ wisdom to share with the world, I played around with the words they shared in the chat box to create the following three collective poems: How Is It To Enter The Unknown? How To Stay In The Unknown… and Playing With Tension and Release.

Here are the poems with a little framing for context.

1.) How Is It To Enter The Unknown?

This poem came from the first chat box sharing, after we’d explored the theme of entering The Unknown during a guided meditation. 

We’d spent some time connecting with the ground and tuning into our breath and body before I invited the group to notice their natural responses to the question “How is it to enter The Unknown?” 

They noticed sensations, breath, emotions, thoughts and images that arose in relation to the question, then reported back in the chat box. Here’s my arrangement of what they wrote:

How Is It To Enter The Unknown?

It’s like floating in water,
between tension and bliss
There is a lot to discover!

It’s like Jazz
Spacious, dark, safe,
Exciting, scary, relaxing
Overwhelming, acclimatising,
A blessed relief.

I resist it!
Make a plan.
I’m excited to see
what wants to be known.

There’s more space
In a dark pool,
These glorious well known waters,
Oh the pleasure,
Ah what terror
Will I be accepted
or rejected?

2.) How To Stay With The Unknown…

Next, I invited the group to explore their living spaces and familiar objects through their senses: discovering them as if for the first time.

Once they’d found their way into a very simple quality of spontaneous play with their objects and space, I invited them to come to the screen and share what they were doing with each other. Reminding them to keep finding ways to open to The Unknown, they began to find simple games together. 

At the end of the play session, I invited them to reflect on their experiment and write a recipe for how to stay with The Unknown in the chat box. Here’s my arrangement of what they wrote:

How To Stay With The Unknown...

Find a place that is safe and welcoming,
and where the people are too.
Let go of the to-do list.
Don’t worry about getting it “right"
If you give it a go, you can't get it wrong.

Stay curious, be intrigued,
Stay fresh as an alien on earth.

Connect to the present,
Sensory perception,
Repeat an affirmation,
Give yourself permission.

Move, keep physical,
Keep connected to self.
Use your senses,
Follow feeling and impetus
Lean into pleasure,
Find cosiness.

Notice other people,
Remember you're not alone.
Let the connections
be an invitation
to play.

When feeling a need to control,
Surrender and trust,
Choose curiosity,
And sensual exploration.
It's all good,
Let go!

3.) Playing With Tension and Release

Tension was a theme that came up in our group discussions. Group members noticed that when they tried to step into The Unknown, tension showed up in their bodies, hearts and/or minds. Some noticed that this tension prevented access to The Unknown, keeping them safe in the familiar. 

During the meditation in week three, I introduced an exercise that allowed the group to explore the impact that tension can have on their bodies, hearts and minds. 

Sitting in meditation, we noticed where tension naturally collects in the body and exaggerated what we found, noticing our sensations, emotions, breath and mind state. Then we explored what happens when we release tension with breath and movement, again tracking our sensations, emotions, breath and mind state. We moved between these two states, exploring the impact. 

At the end of the exercise, I invited them to share some of their findings in the chat box. Here’s a poem I created out of their sharings.

Playing with tension and release

I've been accumulating tension,
Through training without stretching.
I’ve been tensing up to help
with difficult emotions;
Grief, anger, loneliness,
Tension only escalates.

Exaggerating tension,
To taste the many flavours;
Protective, aggressive,
Preparation, stalled,
Less present in my awareness,
Becoming tired, becoming old.

In the tension I stop breathing,
In the tension I stop feeling.
Safe but not comfortable.
Really quite emotional.
Tension hurts.

Release feels difficult.
Like with cocoons,
Pressure, breaking open, then unfurling,
Like growth, like flowers,
Like the seasons, like shoots,
Pushing through the earth in spring.
Same with winter,
The pain of letting go.

There is no breath in tension.
I long for more release.
I tense so I can feel relief.
The tension feels acknowledged.
Relaxed, upright, I’m free.

What Next?

Many thanks to the participants for so generously sharing their experiences and giving permission for me to share these poems. 

If you like the sound of this work, feel free to try it for yourself! 

If you'd like to read about my adventures with Not Knowing, check out these blogs:

I’m not sure when I will run the online or in-person versions of Creative Clarity again, but you can commission me to bring it to your community if you are up for becoming a workshop host. 

I will be offering a new weekend workshop called Creative Resourcing in March. This workshop will use similar creative inquiry methods to explore what sustaining a healthy life in the arts could look like. If you’re interested in that, check out Creative Resourcing.

To be kept up to date with my offerings, swing by my workshops page or sign up to my mailing list below.

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