Dissolve Negative Emotions using any Creative Practice
Using our own creative practice, we can release or dissolve any emotion. In this post we will delve into the Hows and Whys of dissolving negative emotions with a creative practice, and how this can benefit us as artists and as human beings.
But first I want to mention that this is a complex subject and one that can be viewed in a lot of different ways. My background on the subject comes from a mostly Buddhist, spiritual perspective, but I also relate to a sort of practical, artist-minded approach to it. The ability to transform or dissolve negative emotions using a creative practice is, I believe, something every artist or creative-minded person can do. And it is an incredibly handy skill – beneficial to us in ways that are far reaching, and also somewhat hard to put into words.
Some artists say that that their emotions are not a problem for them, and that their artistic process takes care of the emotions for them – that without intending it, their creativity resolves their negative emotional patterns automatically. Really??? If this is you, then good for you, you are the .0001% of humanity (but I don’t really believe you, heheh).
To be completely honest, I’ve never met anyone, especially any creative-minded people, who don’t have difficulties with their emotions at some point or another. It seems inherent to human life on planet earth, but that is of course my opinion, and maybe your experience has been different. Anyway, I will do my best to elucidate my personal experiences with this subject as an artist and creativity teacher.
Emotions are Elusive and Changing
Emotions are things in our life that often do not cooperate with our wishes. They are stubborn and elusive. They can change in an instant and often do. Emotions can give us a lift, or completely derail us from what we’ve set out to accomplish on any given day.
On a deeper level, difficult, fear-based emotions can fill our subconscious mind with negativity, giving way to depression or sudden bouts of anxiety. They can appear as trauma, hiding deep within the psyche for years, even decades, lending an almost unbearable weight to our everyday experiences, and forcing a wrench into our lifelong dreams.
That said, emotions are indeed important teachers for us, and they can be very useful for us. So it’s important to have a basic understanding of them. And by understanding, I mean a practical, conceptual way to approach them that is helpful in exploring our human experience – not some kind of inert, standard textbook definition.
Emotions are Physical Memories
So to be definitive, emotions are, in a nutshell, thought-driven phenomena created within the body, human or animal. They are, generally speaking, thoughts stored in the body as physical sensations – physical memories, if you will. These physical memories can come from our previous experiences in this life, or in ‘past lives,’ as they say. They are often not accessible to us because they are stored within the unconscious part of the body-mind “fight or flight” survival mechanism.
As such, emotions can be very useful to us, especially if we are in danger, physical or otherwise. As they are inherently based on some kind of resistance to something unwanted, they are like programs that alarm us and direct us to safety in certain potentially harmful situations.
As well, our emotions are useful for us because they are the connection between the conscious and sub-conscious minds. They are reminders, or barometers, of what is going on beneath the surface of our minds. As such, we can use them to access hidden thought patterns and beliefs, and thus to resolve difficult problems in our lives.
Emotions are Powerful Creators
In terms of human creativity, the sub-conscious mind is known to many to be the mechanism which creates our ‘reality’ in this 3D/4D world we know as planet Earth, it is crucial to our ability to create what we desire. A simple example would be if you are thinking about someone close to you who is sick in some way. If you think about them being healthy again, and you feel positive, happy emotions while doing so, you can actually help to heal their sickness, depending on your ability to be present in the body while feeling the emotion and thinking the positive thought about them. (More on this topic in a future post, perhaps…)
However, in contrast, if you try to heal someone using negative or fear-based emotions – for instance, if you’re afraid of losing a person who is having the health problem and you feel that fear while thinking about them – your ability to heal them with your thoughts will be greatly diminished, and you may even do more harm than good.
Emotions Can Be Harmful
Furthermore, given that emotions are often not readily accessible to us or not within our control, they can and often do present difficulties to us in our lives, appearing to us when we are no longer in need of the “fight or flight” survival mechanism. Anger is one emotion which can present major difficulties for us, and can cause major damage to our state of being if not controlled. In fact, one really angry moment can destroy one’s entire life and the lives of others, causing severe karmic repercussions.
Why Dissolve Negative Emotions?
Now that we have a general, basic understanding of what emotions are, we can move on to the Hows and Whys of dissolving them (letting them be dissolved). I assume that most people want to be free of their difficult emotions instead of, for instance, suppressing them. This assumption is based on my experience with teaching this subject, but of course it is still an assumption.
Maybe you are not interested in dissolving your negative emotions, and of course I respect that. In this case, if you are a creative person, you may want to learn how to direct them. However, I do not recommend either letting them run amok, nor suppressing them, given what we now know about them. Either of these options seems to only lead down the road of suffering and despair.
For myself, it is simple. Emotions are sometimes very difficult, and if they’re not really serving us, and if we can investigate them and let go of them, and thus become more centered and at peace, why not do it? You might also think, well, maybe they’re there for a reason…so why should I try to get rid of them?
I would say this: emotions ARE there for a reason. That reason is, there is something in the discomfort of that sensation that wants your attention. It wants you to look at it, and resolve it. It is saying: ‘HEY! DID YOU NOT GET THE MEMO YET?! PAY ATTENTION!!’
Possibly it is there to instigate some kind of change in your life, so that you can learn and evolve into something higher, something new – or to change a habit or a belief that is holding you back from what you truly desire. Perhaps it is there for another reason that you don’t know about yet (but that you can discover using contemplation, or mindfulness).
Most Emotions Can Be Easily Resolved and Dissolved
Using mindfulness, one can accept, resolve, and ultimately dissolve negative emotions, whether they be conscious or unconscious. This can be done by connecting the mind to the body with a grounded, relaxed awareness. By connecting with the body mindfully, we have access to many emotions that are not readily available to the conscious mind. When you’re truly connected to the body with subtle awareness, suddenly all of these old emotions come bubbling up, and you can feel them as sensations in the body.
When you feel an emotion directly, without any kind of agenda – without wanting to do anything with it but feel it, let it be felt – it usually begins to dissolve on its own. It does so because there is no longer resistance – the initial fear that created the resistance is no longer there because the mind sees that the body is safe from harm or from something unwanted. The mind sees this directly and the emotion dissolves because it no longer has a reason to be there.
– Unless there is a reason for it to still be there. Sometimes an emotion will not completely dissolve on its own, and that’s ok. Sometimes it takes more time, or more life experiences, for an emotion to resolve itself and free itself from the body. This is to be expected. Because we know that some of our emotions may still have something to teach us, we just learn what we can learn, intend to accept the difficulty of them, and move on to the ones that we can do something about.
Based on my experience, once you have gone through this process with a conscious understanding of it, you will learn how it works. Then you can apply it to any emotion, in any situation.
Releasing and Dissolving Emotions Using a Creative Practice
The creative process is fertile ground for resolving and dissolving negative emotions. But why? Because creativity inherently involves an action with the body. Fundamentally, there is a connection between the body and the thinking mind during the creative process that is essential for releasing emotions. As well, creativity is fun. (Often more fun than sitting in contemplation, IMHO.) We tend to be more relaxed when we’re being creative because we’re having fun – we’re not in our heads, we’re just expressing ourselves. This makes dissolving emotions easier because it’s easier to let go when we’re more relaxed and enjoying life.
A Simple Exercise for Dissolving Emotions
Imagine a scenario where you are doing something creative, like playing the piano. You can tap into a state of mindfulness where you connect more fully with the body and sense the emotion or emotions that come up for you. Close your eyes and feel your whole body at once. Then, after a while, feel any emotion that presents itself in the body. When this happens, just let it be there, and feel it – what does it feel like? What shape is it? Where is it located in the body? Is is hot or cold? Is it rough or smooth? Is it still or moving? Go on with your investigation for 5 minutes.
After this, having no agenda other than to let the emotion be seen, you can see (or politely ask) if it wants to release and dissolve through the body via your fingers on the piano. Most likely it will want to come out this way but you can see for yourself. If it does, just let it do its thing on the piano – let your fingers express the emotion that is being released.
Once you understand this process, try it with any creative medium of your choice, with writing, or dance, or painting, drawing, etc. etc.
And this is how you can dissolve negative emotions using any creative practice. Keep in mind that it’s always best to use a creative medium that does not require much thinking or effort – for instance, if you’re not an adept viola player and you’re trying to do this on a viola, you may have problems because you’re efforting too much, trying to figure out the fingering part as you do it. Instead, use something that requires little to no skill or effort, like scribbling with crayons on paper.
One more thing – this might sound like a very complex process, but once you go through it a few times, it will become very simple and easy. And once you notice how effective it is at releasing or dissolving your negative emotions, you will most likely want to do it more often.
And that’s it. You can even use this process to help resolve difficult emotional patterns such as anxiety or depression.
If you would like more explanation on how to dissolve negative emotions, you can get the book, The Infinite Artist. There are exercises in there with ample detail to direct you through it step by step.