Finding your Inner Voice through Intention Witness
May 7, 2017
As humans, we mostly interact with the world using language: putting our daily experiences and lives into logical, linear form by stringing it all together in structured sentences, packaged so that the listener can follow our ideas and understand us.
Words words words
We have opinions and share them via stories, rants, tweets, texts and Facebook posts. We state our position on world events and the opinions and comments of others, almost as if we are struggling to find a solid place amidst the constant waves and barrages of voices, sound bites and opinions all around us. Yet too often it seems that words limit our ideas to black and white polarized positions, although on an internal level, when we reflect, we might realize the complexity of any given issue. Words, especially in text or tweet form or when limited to 200 characters, rarely capture how mixed we really feel about things.
It can also become difficult in day-to-day life to filter out the noise and information all around us and hear our own subtle and nuanced inner voices.
A typical scenario is someone waking from a blissful, mystical dream to the alarm on their cellphone. They reach over and pick it up to turn off the alarm, and there on the screen are waiting notifications. The inner dream world is forgotten, it's messages lost, and the outer noise train has already pulled us along before our feet find our slippers.
I know this happens to me almost daily, and I am a person who holds mornings sacred: I value my dreams and inner world, and whenever I make time, I like to journal, meditate and say gratitudes before my feet find my slippers. Yet it is incredibly easy to get pulled out of our inner worlds and into the busy outer world that demands so much of our time and attention. We tend to lose track of our inner longings and inner voices and catapult ourselves along until we hit a wall and realize how far out of touch with ourselves we are.
Finding our inner voices/worlds
Artmaking can be used as a practice that can bring us back to that silent, rich, nuanced, complex, shifting, fascinating inner world where we can commune with ourselves in a non-linear way. Through artmaking, we make inquiry about what troubles, intrigues, or moves us, and through our images we get answers that transcend the typical sound bite, linear narrative, or shareable JPG.
Pat B. Allen is an art therapist who has written two books about how artmaking can re-connect us to our inner voices. She says that "art is a vehicle that allows us to transcend linear time, to travel backward and forward into personal and transpersonal history, into possibilities that weren't realized and those that might be."
If you believe like I do, that we all come from a boundless place of infinite creation and were made by a creator, we can use artmaking as a way to commune with our core creative nature and remember our original calling: to share the light that is uniquely ours by adding something to this world. It simply is not true that some people are not creative. That is a lie that some of us are told as children or adolescents and we carry with us into adulthood. To quote writer Elizabeth Gilbert:
"Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody a "creative person" is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have tge senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it. If you're alive, you're a creative person."
Luckily for those of us who want a way to tap into our creative energies and re-experience the richness of our inner worlds and hear our inner voices, there is an accessible form of artmaking for ANYONE (no matter how deeply entrenched your message that you are not creative!). It is called the Intention Witness process.
To quote Pat B. Allen (the art therapist who formulated this process):
There are "two simple but central methods that bracket the artmaking experience: our intention, in which we state our inquiry as an active desire to receive something, which then guides our artmaking; and our witness, a writing practice through which we engage with and integrate what has appeared in our artwork."
The Intention Witness Process invites Inquiry - art is a place to raise any questions about any subject .
The Intention Witness Process invites engagement: Art is a means to enter , to play with, to dance with, to wrestle with anything that intrigues, delights, disturbs or terrifies you.
The Intention Witness Process invites celebration: Art is a path to meaning, which includes all forms of honoring, sharing, memorializing, and giving thanks.
I am a trained art therapist who has done Intention Witness with Pat Allen, and used it in my qualitative research on belonging. I am able to skilfully guide participants through the four steps of the process - intention writing, spontaneous creation, witness writing, and safe group sharing - to help even the most stubborn "non-artist" discover their inner creativity and the messages their images hold for them.
How do you find your inner voice in such a busy, loud, opinionated world? Intention Witness is a powerful way in. "How do we take action in the world with clarity and discernment, with compassion and justice? We do so by facing our personal challenges, listening to our unique sensitivities, and letting them lead us to the knowledge locked within." - Pat B. Allen
Sign up with me for an Intention Witness workshop today!