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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
  Home  > Personal Wellness  > The Creative Process

The Creative Process

When we examine some of the characteristics of the creative process we find some very strong similarities to characteristics of the wellness process. The creative process is often ambiguous and almost always incomplete. Many artists and writers say that they know they could always do more to a work, that it could always be perfected in some way. Yet they also know that the imagined perfection might stifle the creative energy of the piece. The challenge, then, is finding the moment at which they can release their hold on their piece, declare it complete, and put it on the mat," as our friend George Leonard, the author and aikido master, loves to say.

The process of wellness points to this same kind of satisfaction with "imperfection," urging us to accept and honor ourselves with compassion, as we are, regardless of our current state of health. Wellness also means a balanced view, knowing when "enough is enough" - which can serve us well when we are trying to change our diet or attempting to work with our mental programming.

Wellness, like creativity, is a sensuous process, one that incorporates mind and body and spirit. Yeats has stated: "Art bids us touch and taste and hear and see the world, and shrinks from . . . all that is not a fountain jetting from the entire hopes, memories, and sensations of the body." Wonder, awe, and curiosity - those traditionally childlike qualities of mind - these are characteristics of creative thinking and of wellness.

Both processes call for play and energy and passion. The exact opposite of a closed, indifferent approach to life, creativity means openness and receptivity - and the same is true of wellness. We take risks, we try new options, we keep the lines of communication open, within ourselves and with other people.

Finally, the creative process is, like wellness, a courageous one. The ability to be creative and well is an ability to be analytical and critical of yourself in the most positive sense of the terms. It takes knowledge of the self, an ego strength, to be able to reveal your dreams and visions and thoughts to the world at large, to stand by them in the face of opposition. And it requires persistence to stick to something for long periods of time, to pursue a goal with no guaranteed results.

We all possess the potential to be creative, but some of us have simply never been encouraged, even allowed, to develop this potential. Typically, creativity means coloring outside the lines, and is actively discouraged by many of our schools and institutions. So it is with wellness! It takes courage to tell your doctor about the guidance concerning your condition that you received in a dream, through your own intuition, or through prayer. More so, to refuse conventional medical treatments may leave others thinking that you are crazy.

When we learn skills of creative thinking, we learn to improve ourselves and our world as well. We invite you to accept this challenge.

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