Updated: Jan 30
Hello, and welcome to the second episode of "Inner Callings with Bristena Mantu". I'm Bristena, your host, psychospiritual poet and therapist. Today I want to talk about a subject that's very close to my heart, namely creativity and its importance in our lives.
But before I dive in, I want to share with you a personal story, which I hope will set the scene for today's exploration. Now, take a cuppa tea, lay back and relax while I tell you the story about the most decisive moment of my life when absolutely everything I knew and took for granted had to change.
So there I was, a 20-year-old law student at a most prestigious university in London. I had worked my ass off in high school to become admitted to King's College London. I was following a career path prescribed to be one of the most viable decisions for gifted students at the time. Well, not in the least, because it would also bring me financial security and social reputation galore. Like many other gifted high school students, I had been sold a dream which, in my case, was beginning to, slowly but surely, turn into a nightmare. The nightmare of a prospect of a career that would offer me no real chance at a personal life and no scope to bring anything that felt remotely meaningful and authentic about myself to the fore. I don't have anything against lawyers, but my heart was adamant it would not find happiness in that profession, regardless of many attempts to convince myself otherwise.
I was forced to confront a dire future, looking like it almost belonged to a dystopian sci-fi script where I'd become a miserable and soulless automaton working away in service of the destructive machinery of the state. I was lucky enough to also be offered a way out by some kind of miracle of fate. That way out demanded that I take a leap of faith and follow my heart into an unknown exploration. The exploration of myself, who I truly was and what I genuinely wanted to pursue in this life. Guess what I chose? I hope you got it right! :) It was the latter option.
Okay, good folks, you may be wondering what this has to do with today's topic of creativity and its role in our lives. Well, it's got everything to do with it! Allow me to explain.
In giving up everything I had and everything I knew, I had to recreate myself anew. And to do so, I had to dig deep into my soul and find the heartbeat of my creative impulse, learn to trust it repeatedly, and allow it to guide my steps forward. I had to become skilled at relying on my creative powers to forge a path that was authentic to me and protect it with dear life in certain moments lest it become damaged by destructive or distracting forces. And trust me, there were plenty of those too and I look forward to unpacking some of those dynamics in future episodes.
What my life experience has taught me is that creativity is not a luxurious hobby or childish playtime - creativity was and continues to be my saving grace and guiding light as I engage deeply with becoming a truer version of myself that is standing in her own authority, knows when to say yes or not to others and is building a life of authentic meaning and passionate purpose.
And this is why I'm talking about creativity today and its role in our lives. Nowadays, people come to work with me because they are desperately looking for a way out of the plight they find themselves in. Be it a dissatisfying marriage, a painful pit of depression, a pervasive sense of self-doubt and lack of self-trust, a painful cycle of being rejected by those they love, you name it - whatever it is that they're seeking a solution for, my approach to dealing with their problems is fundamentally based in the awakening and activation of their dormant creative abilities. Yes, there are tools, techniques and various therapeutic approaches which inform the context and strategy for the work. However, the therapeutic journey is, in my view, a journey of rediscovery of one's innate creative powers, which, by their very nature, are directly connected to one's ability to enact change.
In his seminal book "The Act of Will", Roberto Assagioli said:"The discovery of the will in oneself, and even more the realization that the self and the will are intimately connected, may come as a real revelation which can change, often radically, a man’s self awareness and his whole attitude toward himself, other people, and the world. He perceives that he is a “living subject” endowed with the power to choose, to relate, to bring about changes in his own personality, in others, in circumstances. This enhanced awareness, this “awakening” and vision of new, unlimited potentialities for inner expansion and outer action, gives a new feeling of confidence, security, joy — a sense of “wholeness”.
Now allow me to offer some background from a psychosynthesis perspective on the nature of Self as a soul on an evolutionary journey through human experience and why creativity becomes stifled or repressed at a certain point in our lives.
Roberto Assagioli had a clear perspective of a so-called "impulse towards wholeness" in every one of us, the basis of all our evolutionary strivings. The Self seeks to manifest its highest evolutionary potential, or entelechy, defined by Jane Houston as "the dynamic purposiveness of the patterns of possibility encoded in each of us".
In the book "The Search for the Beloved - Journeys in Sacred Psychology" she says: "It is the entelechy of an acorn to be an oak, it is the entelechy of a baby to be an adult, and of you to be the God only knows who or what. What happens in sacred psychology is the tapping into the entelechy of the self, the level most directly related to the Divine Self."
What happens in childhood, though, when our needs aren't sufficiently met, either due to minor parental failures, or ranging to the most severe ones, is that we lose connection to the inherent pattern of possibility encoded in our individual psyche. We absorb, like sponges, what is being thrown at us, and we internalise how others view us as our self-image.
We're taught it's not safe to be ourselves so we learn to repress and disown certain aspects of ourselves in order to receive the acceptance and love we're deeply longing and biologically wired for. We learn to shut off from our feelings and become gradually estranged from our true needs, wishes and desires, the manifestations of our real selves.
Instead of thriving from a place of playful curiosity, imaginative exploration and intuitive sensing, we end up simply trying to survive. Creativity has no space to breathe when all you're concerned about is whether you've accomplished your never-ending to-do list or distracted yourself for long enough from the dark pain in your heart that nobody really knows or cares about, including yourself. Now, that sounds like quite a gloomy reality if nothing could be done about it. Thankfully, so much can be done about it.
In recent decades there has been an incredible movement of the awakening of individual consciousness of people all over the world who are exploring new ways of living according to their inner guidance. Creativity is at the core of this movement because it represents our ability to make space for new ways of thinking and viewing one's relationship to self, others and the world.
To create means to bring into being, grow, and give birth to new life forms. Creating means understanding that there are seasons and cycles to be honoured instead of enforcing goals or imposing expectations for things to be ripened before their time is due. To create means listening deeply to what is emerging from within, rather than cowering with fear at the consequences of failing to meet external requirements.
To create is to make space for new possibilities to arise by infusing one's attention with gentle curiosity and playful exploration. To create means to dare to go off the beaten track and make one's own mark in the ground, knowing that the soles of one's feet kissed the earth with naked desire and boundless adventure. Creativity is an ongoing surprise of what happens when you give yourself free rein over your imagination and intuitive capabilities, which over time consolidate deep inner resourcefulness, resilience and self-trust in the face of adversity.
Now I'd like to invite you to explore your creative potential, exactly as it is in your life. If you're happy to receive some prompts for a guided reflection, I invite you to find a comfortable position where you can begin to go within. If you're listening to this while attending to other chores, I recommend pausing everything and focusing on the following experience. It will give you a taste of your creative self coming online and you can experiment to see what it might need in order to develop more at this time. It may be helpful to revisit this guided reflection when you feel stuck or seek answers to a challenging situation. Okay. Are you ready?
Okay, take some time to welcome yourself inside. Taking a moment to feel your feet on the floor and the weight of your body supported by the gravity beneath you. You can let go of the ideas I've shared, trusting that whatever has inspired you will have left its mark on your mind and will come back when you need it.
Now, see if you can turn your attention towards your breath. Giving your breath some gentle awareness as you descend from your mind into your heart. You can do so by using your hand to slowly stroke from the top of your head all the way towards the middle of the chest, where you can rest your hand for a moment. Feel the warmth of the contact between your hand and your heart. If your mind is preoccupied with other thoughts, I invite you to place them on hold, reassuring them you'll come back to attend to them shortly afterwards. Now we're going to take a few breaths together into the heart space. Breathing in, your heart expands. Breathing out, your heart releases. Breathing into your heart, breathing out of your heart. Okay. Good.
Now ask your heart to offer you an image or a symbol representing your creative potential as it is in your life right now. Let it come online, whether it's a positive, negative or neutral image. If you have an issue in mind you're seeking answers to, ask your heart to show you an image that would creatively represent the answer to your troubles. It doesn't have to make any sense at first; allow your imagination to run wild. Full permission. If nothing comes to mind, that's okay. Keep waiting until something comes to you - maybe in the shape of a sound, a hunch, a place, or simply a memory. Let your heart show you a metaphor of your creative potential right now. Good.
Now, see if you can get closer to this image or symbol in your mind's eye. Approach it and become aware of any colours, sounds, textures, fragrances or tastes this image is evoking in you. If this image or symbol was trying to convey something important to you, what would it say? Allow yourself to wonder out loud, and again, don't worry if it's unclear yet. Allow yourself time and space to simply muse from the heart of your creative image or symbol.
Now, as you listen to this message, see if you can step back and check into yourself, the you who are witnessing this experience. What do you make of this message that's been offered to you? How does it feel to have heard those words? Do you notice any thoughts, impulses or sensations arising within you as you process this message? Do you have something to share back? Have a conversation and become curious to see where it leads you for the next two minutes.
Now, we're coming towards the end of this reflection. If this creative image or symbol had a last thing it had to tell you right now, what would it be? How could you translate that into an actionable take-away for the days to come? Great, now take a pen and write down anything significant from this experience. What are you taking away from this inner dialogue with your creativity? Are you willing to take that action and make the change inspired by your creative self?
Welcome back! Thank you for staying with me all the way through this guided reflection. I hope it has brought you something useful.
Creativity is essential to our well-being. It not only helps us fumble in the dark for new answers to our life dilemmas, but it also profoundly rejuvenates and enlivens us through its qualities of joy, excitement, novelty and playfulness. I treasure my creativity deeply; without it, I wouldn't have managed to turn my life around from dissatisfying pursuits into fulfilling explorations of my true callings.
If you've enjoyed listening to these musings on the value and role of creativity in our lives, make sure to subscribe to my channel and listen to the next episode, where I'm going to share a bunch of practical tips for cultivating sustainable creative rhythms and inspiring practices to take your creativity to a whole other level.
Until then, I shall leave you with the following piece of inspiration. Speaking of acorns, here's a poem entitled "The Acorn". If you enjoy it, please consider purchasing my book of therapeutic poetry "Inner Callings - a pilgrim's diary" which you can find at www.bristenamantu.com/book
When I was a child
my grandfather planted an acorn
and spoke of the glory
of the oak tree that would be
He said: this is your oak tree
but you must water it every day
without your care, it can never grow
in that moment I understood
the true meaning of responsibility
And so, that day my grandfather
did not just plant an acorn in the ground
he also planted the seed of an idea
in the fertile soil of my young heart
It has taken root within my being
sprouted, grew and is now yielding
take this poem as my precious acorn
a promise of pure potentiality
Plant it within your own heart
nurture it with tender care
and know that, one day, you will too
pass the gift of hope and bounty
to those in need of new life!