The first chapter of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making seemed to contain a plethora of themes (Fox, 1997). One of the first I encountered was connected to the experience of surprise. According to Fox (1997), poem-making has the ability to offer healing surprise, which, for some, may feel like some sort of revelation or epiphany, “a creative, joyful, luminous, physical experience of being disinterred from limitation” (p. 3). When reading those words on surprise, I was reminded of Czikszentmihalyi’s (2007) research on creativity’s flow experience. He seemed to use almost identical language when describing that limitless aspect of the creative process.
But whether it is called flow or surprise, it seems writers find that healing experience in personal ways through personal rituals (Perry, 2009). Some unburden themselves of external commitments in order to enter flow or surprise. Others perform acts and warmups, engage in routines, or play music, so there seems to be a ritualized nature to finding the flow or surprise experience.
Reading about that nature spurred my thinking in a related area, psychological surroundings. How do psychological surroundings or inner and outer places affect the experience of flow or surprise? Fox (1997) seemed to address my question directly and specifically with the Finding Your Sacred Place Exercise. In that exercise, he encouraged the reader to imagine places that allow for creativity and for writing to emerge. And a place could mean: a physical home, a coffee house, specific objects, an interior place, an image, the imagination, or a sacred place.
Here’s a poem about a sacred place for me. It’s called Nectar.
For art’s ambrosia
A sacred place
Laced in flight and filtered light
I flitted, flying and feeding
In nectar’s sweet delight
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2007). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Fox, J. (1997). Heart, who will you cry out to? Giving silence words (pp. 1-31). In, Poetic medicine: The healing art of poem-making. Los Angeles, CA: Tarcher.
Perry, S. K. (2009). Writing in flow. In S. J. Kaufman, & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), The psychology of creative writing. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.