Insights Through Creativity

March 15, 2021 00:20:03
Insights Through Creativity
More Happiness Less Suffering
Insights Through Creativity

Show Notes

More Happiness Less Suffering hosts Monisha Vasa, MD and Cayce Howe both speak about their creative journey and what it has meant on their path to self discovery. Both have published poetry books and speak to the insights that can come about only through the unique outlet of "opening to the unknown".

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. I'm Casey Howe, senior meditation and Dharma teacher for insight. Speaker 1 00:00:07 And I'm Dr. Monisha Basa psychiatrist in our little podcasting studio in orange County, California. We bring wisdom from the couch and the cushion to your real life questions and struggles. So grab a cup of tea and join us. We're so glad you're here. Welcome back to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. Um, I am Dr. Moni Shavasana and I'm here with Casey Howe and as always, we are so grateful to have you here with us. We value each and every one of you who is listening wherever you are in the world. And yet today we don't have a guest today. It's me and Casey talking. And we actually thought today that we would talk a little bit about our creative practices, um, for both of us that tends to be writing in particular, um, writing poetry. And so we thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about how we each came to poetry, what our practices look like on a day to day basis, the intersections between creativity and mindfulness. So we'll begin as always with a poem. And today I'm actually going to share one of my poems and it goes like this. In the end, we will know ours was the path only we could walk the beauty only our eyes could see the music. Only our ears could hear the art. Only our hands could create the burden only our shoulders could bear. And so there is no other path, no better, no worse, no fewer obstacles or more colorful flowers along the way. We simply need to keep walking, keep walking. And no, we are exactly where only we could be. Speaker 0 00:02:08 Beautiful. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. So maybe we could start by hearing your creative process, uh, or practice however you want to call it. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:02:24 Yeah, for sure. It's interesting because I don't actually know that I have a defined practice. I think you and I were actually talking about this the other day. Um, I think, you know, we sort of had this vision, or maybe I had this vision or imagine kind of what real writers do that they have this routine that, you know, either every morning they get up and write for a particular amount of time or every afternoon or evening, and they have a dedicated space and a peaceful environment. And my writing practice honestly, looks nothing like that. Um, you know, I'm, I'm married, I have children. I w I work. And so honestly, especially with poems, it's almost like catching these ideas when they come to me in a certain way, usually something happens to me during the day. I might have an interaction with my children or something. Speaker 1 00:03:25 A patient says often it's a word or a phrase. And it usually just happens to be something that happens to land or resonate a certain way. And often I might write down that word or phrase, I'm just may type it into my phone or write it into my journal or my planner. And usually that word or phrase kind of percolates on some level throughout the day. And often it's at nighttime when things are a little bit more quiet that a poem tends to form around that word or phrase, and sometimes it's might be days, or it might be weeks that I'm kind of turning over a particular idea or concept. And then all of a sudden it will crystallize into this poem. Uh, but I don't actually sit down every day with a clear intention to write, or, and I know this is a little bit different than what you do. Speaker 1 00:04:18 Um, yeah, I don't sit down every day with a clear intention or practice. I do tend to journal every day. And oftentimes in my journaling, something also may arise that ends up eventually evolving into a poem. Uh, but it's, it's really kind of a messy and mysterious process. And I think I actually like it that way. Um, it also kind of takes the pressure off because I sort of find that as long as I'm listening, as long as I'm listening to my experiences, to the people in front of me, I will hear the poem. So it kind of takes the pressure off of me to find a way to generate it because it's really more about capturing it. And I think that's where kind of the mindfulness piece sometimes intersects for me because it really is more of a practice of paying attention more than anything else. Speaker 0 00:05:17 Yeah. Yeah. I definitely see that. Yeah. I definitely have a window during the day that I try to dedicate to it, but not in any goal oriented away with anything needs to come to fruition. But for me, the practice itself is somewhat of a necessity just to combine the spiritual insights with kind of like cementing them into something in the, in, in this world and a three-dimensional world. Like how could I bring those insights? And what I realized is that for myself alone, along the way, um, you know, I've been meditating for a long time and so late eighties and some of my insights are perishable. Like I forget them, right. You know, I'll have, I'll be in situations and environments. You know, I've had environments of, uh, environments and times of my life, a very intense practice. And in, in these times of intense practice, of course, things that your view or my view, you know, in those situations has been very clear and there there's times in my life afterwards, it's not so clear. Speaker 0 00:06:37 And, and I need to remind myself of that clarity. I realized somewhere along the way, like, wow, you know, I'm actually not holding on to everything. Like I thought that I, that I was, or I, and I just do this and mundane things like, Oh, I'll remember that. I remember that like something you read or something that you, it connects with you and then, you know, wanting to, to really drill down into essence. It's so, so important. I love things that are extremely pith. You know, like most of my writings are extremely short and pithy. Um, and because I just, I want to know just the essence and it's really taking what is beyond words and, and putting some, some kind of language to them. It's the things that can't be spoken of and, you know, the kind of the in VR, invisible experiential, like how can we put words to that to point back to that experience? Speaker 0 00:07:45 And the, and these words are nice. They're not it, but at least take a point to that. And so for me, they're very selfish in that way of really wanting to document some of these things and much like, like, you know, they take a long time to just go down to that essence, you know, that they could take three months. It could take, you know, six months kicked could take a year. I just wrote one, Oh man, it's been a good six, eight months. That again, it's just kinda been resting there, but it takes a while for that, that deeper something to, to come up to the surface. And I think for me, I would have this, this idea that if it's mundane and spoken, it was so somehow lesser it's lesser than my true, authentic experience, you know, things of this world. And, you know, I've always thought silence was way better. Speaker 0 00:08:48 You know, stillness is way better. And I don't see it so much like this anymore. You know, I see it as, um, two sides of the coin that we, we really need to, we need the intellect. Uh, we need, uh, analysts analyzing. We need analyzing on a, on a mundane three-dimensional way we analyze reality until we see, okay, there's something deeper here. We could release that conceptualization move into experience. And then, yeah, maybe it's a bit false. Like when we regurgitate that into something like a poem, it's, it's not as true. Right. Um, but it's extremely relevant. It lands it, reverberates, it connects. Um, and in, in that way, one thing that I love about the poetry is that it connects with people in so many different ways and there's no right or wrong. Sometimes I'll get people ask, Oh, what'd you mean by that? I don't care what I meant by that. It's like, whatever, whatever, if it connects with you in that way, then that's totally perfect. Speaker 1 00:10:02 I think it often lands how it's supposed to land know. And I think that's actually one of the other beautiful things about poetry is that unlike an essay or a story there doesn't necessarily need to be any backstory or explanation, you might write it with a particular meaning or intention in mind, and then somebody else reads it and receives it through their lens, the way that they need to in that particular moment. And it's just as meaningful, you know? And so I think that's one of the things that I liked the most about poetry. I think one of the interesting ideas about creativity that I would love to ask you about, would you consider it when you think back to your earlier years, for example, growing up, did you consider yourself a naturally creative person? Did you write, you know, in, you know, as a student growing up, or how far into your meditation practice did you start to experiment with poetry? Speaker 1 00:10:59 Um, cause I think one of the misconceptions we have is that, you know, creative people have always been creative or writers have always been writers or that you have to have this formal education and training that has taken you down this path of creativity. I only came to writing really in my adulthood. Uh, you know, obviously I was much more focused on science along the way in terms of my education and training. And, you know, I think choosing psychiatry was probably one of my key steps towards a more creative path, because of course, psychiatry is all about listening and absorbing people's stories and narratives, but, you know, and I, I only started writing poems maybe three years ago, you know, when I was doing an online writing group with Jenna, who was the editor of my book and my writing coach and all around amazing being. And so, yeah, I'm curious to know, like, did you see yourself as a creative person growing up? Was this something that you've done since early on or when did, when did you arrive to your relationship with your own creativity? Speaker 0 00:12:08 Mm mm yeah. Yeah. For me, I was not good at much in school. Unlike you smarty pants. Uh, yeah. Uh, I like creative things with the only thing that I actually was decent at, like the English, the writing and stuff like that since like math did not take like languages, you know, the sciences, um, I would just space out, you know, I, I did, I was very, um, introverted and so I was very much, yeah. Like in my own mind, I didn't like actual, external energy of like, in that way it was very internal. And so, yeah, I think even though I didn't really call it creativity or whatnot, I really liked, um, uh, the arts and, and in high school. Yeah, English, I did start writing, um, almost as soon as I started meditating, um, I started writing, but you know, it was nothing that I shared or anything like that, but, um, Speaker 1 00:13:16 Weren't easy platforms back then to share as well. There was no Instagram or Speaker 0 00:13:22 Right. And, and I, and I remember one summer I was, you know, a teenager and I, I wrote so much and I just think I needed to. And what I still find is true it's that this is almost like this just treasure hunt in it. That sometimes things come in in, on the spiritual path, in, in many different ways. And I think we, we lose sight on all the different ways that we learn and that we grow, especially once we get really kind of, quote-unquote deeper into the spiritual path, we think, Oh, is this gonna, these Epiphanes and insights are going to come in meditation. And, and you're working with people one-on-one and whatnot. I get this a lot where they're like, quote-unquote off the path, but they're learning incredible things in daily life, you know? Yeah. Their meditation practice, isn't, you know, 45 minutes a day, but these things have to manifest in many different ways. Speaker 0 00:14:21 Sometimes it's, um, it's, it's an illness or somebody like this, like we are learning in so many different ways and that writing and creativity, it can be, it can be painting. It could be writing. It could be a sport where you find your creative outlet, we're learning and discovering something about ourselves. In that way. We're accessing, I have one poem that says something like creativity is a conversation in corridor between the known and the unknown. And to me, that's the essence of what creativity means to me. It says in this conversation between the known and the unknown, and we could use that, that tunnel, if you will, that I don't know that communication line and to tap us into something. Right. So it's like the using that, Oh, I really need to discover and I'm going to do so in this way. Speaker 1 00:15:21 Hmm. I think what I love about that perspective is that it kind of speaks to the fact that, you know, creativity is such a personal practice. And oftentimes we think about when we think about writing, we think about, you know, generating something that's shareable that we can, like, we were just talking about, share on social media or write in a book. And at the same time, I think there's a really important part of using creativity as a personal reflective practice, you know, a practice of better understanding ourselves, our experiences, our relationships with other people and much of that may or may not be shared. But as you said, it's kind of part of part of the path in a way. And I think when we look at it that way, we often remove a layer of pressure that we don't have to generate something that's perfect and shiny, and is going to get a certain number of likes and shares, you know, on, on social media, but is important because it has shown us something about ourselves that we didn't previously know. Speaker 0 00:16:29 For sure. For sure. So let's end with a little bit of stillness, a little bit, a little meditation, and maybe we could tap into that creative spirit a little bit. So if you could join us, please do moving into a place of quietness and stillness, which again is a Nate inside and just sitting and breathing here and maybe opening yourself to the unknown and beautiful thing about creativity is that we're pulling from an unknown place, insights and wisdom thought ideas, concepts are opening to the unknown. Then there's so much surrender and, and courage and manifests in doing so. Just resting here for a moment, trusting this space and always connecting any insights. And he was done with art. Speaker 2 00:19:15 Okay. Speaker 0 00:19:18 Never forgetting our interconnectedness or interdependent Speaker 2 00:19:27 Machine that all beings everywhere can be connected to Speaker 0 00:19:33 Your creative, spontaneous, magical selves. May all beings everywhere without exception, Speaker 2 00:19:49 Maybe I'll be happy and free from suffering.

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