Creativity + healing in community: the triple-whammy!

This article by Marn Norwich was originally published by Creative Coworkers.

The once-pejorative concept of a triple whammy has taken on an upbeat, urban-dictionary twist in recent years. So it is this reclaimed phrase that comes to mind when I think of the powerful triumvirate of creativity, healing and community. When people gather together with the intention of mutual support and expressing their truths to themselves and each other, some immeasurable quantity joins them, and the magic begins!

I’ve witnessed this fireworks display on many occasions, and each time I am happily astonished. I’ve seen it happen in community centre workshop spaces, for women in Burnaby prison, for teenaged girls at an eating disorders unit, and for classrooms full of courageous people in drug and alcohol rehab centres. People come together as community, sometimes without prior knowledge of each other, break though their fear and self-consciousness, and write their truths. Then, sometimes with shaky hands and often through tears, they read their raw words aloud.

We, the group, listen. We listen hard, like new parents tuned to their babies. Our job is to hold these unpolished stones in our hands and warm them by our human hearts. It’s a form of alchemy that no one needs to be taught. The respect for each reader is palpable in the quiet space, and often group members call out their support and admiration.

The crazy thing is that even though people may be writing for the first time in years (or in their lives!), the pieces are often breathtaking in their fluidity, poignancy and rhythm, with turns of phrase that seem to have landed on the page from some distant star. It can be mindboggling to hear a roomful of wrenching truths, one after the other, each story a living history and testimony to what we can overcome.

The throat chakra or energy centre is associate with creativity and self-expression. When it is opened, we can transform the hardness of personal history into wisdom.

Healing can come through transformation, as in the act of moving from stuck to activated, from silence to speech. When facilitated in community, within a creativity framework, the power of this transformation is augmented by the loving kindness of our human families. Community is power, in so many ways. As much as creativity, it is one of the privileged gifts of our species.

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