Confessions of a Conference Groupie
This year was my TENTH journey to the Creativity and Madness Conference. If you haven’t heard me gush about it, this is where I complete many of my continuing education credits as a psychologist. Every August premiere speakers from all over the United States convene in Santa Fe, New Mexico for one week to present psycho-biographies of famous artists as well as cutting edge research on integrated medicine. My practice and my whole being has been shaped by the ideas of this conference and I am happy to share the wisdom I have gained with you through the blog.
Some of my personal favorites from this year’s conference were:
- Sir Isaac Newton: His obsession with light and self imposed isolation may have contributed to his scientific genius.
- Dr. Richard Kogan, a psychiatrist and concert pianist, entertained and educated us on the “mind and music of George Gershwin.”
- Learning fun facts about medical marijuana and how it is possible to get the pain relief without the high.
- Andy Warhol was a hoarder (makes you think again about the Campbell soup cans!)
- Love and loss and the life of Leonard Cohen.
- The friendships among Pink Floyd, and the mental health deterioration of band founder Syd Barrett.
- The art and psychology of the rock opera Tommy (yes, I plan to watch it again!)
Equally mesmerizing were the presentations that emphasized the latest findings on the impact of creativity and well being. Dr. Kathleen Colvin shared a particularly inspiring story of the transformative healing effects of art in the life of concert pianist Carol Rosenberger. At 21 Carol was preparing to launch an international tour when she contracted polio. The medical doctors at that time informed her that whatever abilities she regained physically within the first year would be the limit of her healing. Spoiler alert: They were wrong.
Extraordinary Ordinary Creativity
We also learned that art making, which sometimes takes the form of long term creative projects, has a positive impact on our emotional health (relieving symptoms of depression), physical health (improving immunity), and cognitive health (decreasing cognitive decline in aging). Permission granted to make art! What if you don’t see yourself as a ” creative person?” In this world there are Big C creatives (like Newton, Gershwin, Leonard Cohen), and little c creatives- which is everybody else!
There may be some resistance out there to this concept but I wonder do you have to define yourself as athletic in order to exercise? (no) We have known for many years that regular exercise has health benefits. The key is finding an exercise that fits who you are so you will do it often enough to reap the benefits. Once you start looking you will find there are many choices for creative expression. Find something that you enjoy doing that sparks new pathways of thinking. Consider some ordinary activities that you can elevate into creative projects:
Even short term creative adventures can give a mood boost. Consider the positive feelings you can get from traveling to a new place, going to an art exhibit, cleaning out a junk drawer! The popularity of adult coloring books is in part attributed to the value of slowing down to create. Once you set an intention to welcome a creative mindset into your life there are unlimited possibilities.
This past Saturday was the FIRST EVER Mindful Muse retreat held at St. Francis of the Woods in Coyle, Oklahoma. I had the privilege to co-host with life coach Charles Gosset, CPC. The “magic” began as soon as the participants arrived, full of positive creative energy. We talked about developing new habits of mindfulness, and finding the inner champion to tame the inner critic. After a tasty and nutritious lunch, small groups tackled questions designed to reconnect them with the roots of their creative spirit. We concluded with lessons on FLOW, and laid plans for continued self care to refuel creativity. Now that we have had our FIRST retreat I can hardly wait for our NEXT retreat! It was a special experience filled with creative energy, support, aha moments, laughter, and connection.
Hope this post delivered some morsels to whet your appetite for more! Upcoming posts will give you a second helping of some of August’s favorites.