The Experience of Being Creative as a Spiritual Practice: A Hermeneutic-Phenomenological Study

By Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Personal Roots

My interest in the creative process and my curiosity about the nature of creativity has been a life long pursuit, fueled by my personal practice as a painter and writer. Over the years I have begun to realize that my creative work not only brings a deep sense of inner healing, of integration, but that it has often brought deep shifts in my ordinary awareness. Not only does the world appear differently after a painting session, colors brighter, forms clearer, but I feel at times a deep connection to something greater than myself.

I have come to see the importance of my creative practice not only in making visible that which is taking place within, not only as a way to know myself and make myself known but as a way to connect with a deeper, sacred, lifegiving force. These experiences, elucidated by my studies in East-West Psychology, have allowed me to see the creative act as a spiritual practice.

I was first drawn to the field of East-West Psychology in response to the limits I felt in traditional Western psychology. I felt that it gave voice to the missing spiritual elements vital to human experience. My interest in creative process as a spiritual practice grows out of these studies.

Looking over the collage of my life, I see that as a child, growing up between the scientific perspective of my father and the psychoanalytic one of mother, I found creative pursuits were a way to hear my own voice. They were spontaneous, inwardly motivated activities that seemed to defy the understanding of either psychology or science.

In later years, being an artist became an identity, a name for my rebellious individual nature. I began to hold on to the contemporary Western view of the tragic artist, intent on breaking convention, struggling to survive. In my late

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