“Inner experience and creativity, to get the best out of life”
Inner experience and creativity in Danse du Sensible, Dance of Inner Sensitivity and Movement of Presence, to get the best out of life
Conference by Claire Laronde,
Saturday, September 21st, 2019, Duplex hall, Issy les Moulineaux
Transcription: Anne Yung - Translation : Sophie Chambers
Hello everybody and welcome to this conference on the relationship between the inner experience and creativity. We will look at the link between the dimension of this inner experience that comes from the Danse du Sensible, the manner in which we can connect with our creative potential and how we can let it emerge and establish itself.
Creativity means adding life to life; it is in the first instance, a vital need to heighten living. For creativity to be able to emerge, there is first a need for silence, for emptiness, for “nothing”, a need to be in contact with nothing, enter into the space; and it is from this emptiness that something new can emerge.
Elsa Triolet said that to be creative is as difficult as to be free. Creativity is an expression of freedom. If we are free, creativity can be expressed. We will explore the link in depth between creativity and expression. To start with, I would say that creativity is both the base and the extension of expression. It is the development of what is particular to each of us that will be the foundation of what we express, and allow us to express it. Creativity is at the same time the spice of our expression: it is the dance of our expression. This is because creativity calls for expression, but also for thought, and the way in which our thought will be able, in its freedom and in its movement, to associate, to choose, to sort, to play.
What can hamper our creativity is stress, or beliefs (sometimes stemming from our family history), or simply fears, or too many demands on oneself, or even perfectionism. This is the reason why it is important to reconnect with ourselves, to develop self-knowledge, so that we can free ourselves from the obstacles that hinder us from the fluidity of our expression.
To talk about this inner experience dimension, or should I say this bodily and sensitive dimension of interiority, I suggest giving some Danse du Sensible elements. The Danse du Sensible is both a practice and an experience, a way of being more present with oneself, a feeling of being more embodied in our life, by developing the ability to perceive one’s own inner dance. The Danse du Sensible, which I developed over a number of years, draws inspiration from and relies on the perception tools from Perceptual pedagogy, an original and specific way of relating to our bodily interiority. To my experience of Perceptual pedagogy, I added the qualities of welcoming and self-recognition from nonviolent communication, as well as my experience of expression from dance.
The bodily experience is first and foremost about developing spatial awareness. It is an encounter with the dimension of space. To develop this new spatial awareness so that this spatial dimension can be encountered differently, it is about being interested in our Inner Space, that is to say what we perceive as space within our body. It is an encounter with the space that is within us in order to develop silence. There are two dimensions: that of Inner Space, and that of presence. What does it mean to encounter silence? Is silence the absence of noise? When we talk about interiority, we often talk about the absence of thought, or calming our thoughts. Thoughts are living, and can also be creative; thoughts do not have to be put aside, but can be transformed. Thoughts that spiral, that go round and round, that prevent us from being in this “vacuum”, this previously mentioned state of nothingness. It is precisely in this state of Inner Silence experienced within the body and in bodily presence, that thoughts can be transformed. Let’s transform our thinking into attention, listening and presence. To be able to enable novelty emerge, let's enter this Inner Space to encounter silence, a silence that will be of another quality. It is as though silence has matter. At a certain point in time, breathing with silence, also means encountering another dimension of time; an immensity, that at the same time, will be totally present, in the here and now, a very “incarnated” feeling.
It’s just a matter of being able to relate to a dimension of immensity, a dimension where time is infinite, where one could even say that time does not exist. This is another dimension of time, from where we can take another look at things, see things with more perspective. Then, with practice, we can be at the same time in our daily actions. The presence of the here and now does not negate the usual time for daily actions. It simply allows us to no longer identify ourselves with what we are experiencing so that we can access a greater presence to life, and to feel better in our lives. At the start, we must put aside our usual perception of time to access another time, with the perception of a sensitive and embodied present moment. And then, little by little, the two can coexist and be present at the same time. At some point, when we become closer to our inner self, we are no longer bothered by time in which our actions take place. We can even be in a hurry without it bothering us. Things become simple because we can encounter another dimension of time simultaneously. Time is space, a space where silence becomes the cradle, the space for the emergence of creativity.
To summarize: a space, a time, silence, a consistency of silence and a movement, a dance emerging from within. We talk about dance, therefore allowing the inner movement to dance is first an encounter with the dimension that is called, in Perceptual pedagogy "the inner movement". This is a deep movement that drives us; however we do not notice its influence in our daily actions, which are faster. But when we start to slow down and contact our Inner Space, we become able to perceive what animates us, and in particular to perceive this slow, soft, deep and loving movement, this movement which is the very expression of life within us. It is the essence of who we are as human beings, the essence of the living which expresses itself in our body matter and comes to give us, I would say, the body of our expression.
So, encountering the inner movement. For that, we have to develop slowness. The foundation of the dance will be based on the quality of slowness. I say quality, because it is not simply slowing down the gesture, but slowing down the gesture by being totally present in what is happening. Present, in the here and now, present with the unfolding of each movement. And by being present, we will be able to connect with the emergence of movement, and the emergence of movement is the essence of dance, it is the essence of our expression, so that our expression is then gestural or verbal, or dance.
A space where expressiveness will render the way in which we express ourselves natural, fluid and simple. To go further, I would say that it is a question of "letting oneself to express" from a dimension that lies beyond our usual control, our thought process. To be able to be creative, we need to leave the passage open to something new. This is why we must put ourselves at the service of a dimension vaster than that which we are used to. This physical and spiritual interiority dimension is absolutely fundamental.
I will come back to what the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers said about creativity: creativity becomes constructive when the person can be in contact with as many aspects of themselves as possible. He also says that if the person denies certain aspects of themselves, the more aspects that are denied, inhibited, unrecognized, the more creativity will be limited. Creativity may be strong, but it won’t necessarily be constructive; it may even be dangerous for others. So being able to have the best possible access to all parts of ourselves is a basis for creativity, and a duty on the path of consciousness. That is to say, by entering into our interiority, we have access to a spiritual, transcendent, existential dimension; we also have access to what constitutes us on a daily basis: our states, our perceptions, our emotions, our feelings. These are the ways of understanding life and therefore, to reconnect with the inner self, to experience interiority means to experience our ways of being in touch with life, being able to connect and develop a deep understanding of our ways of comprehending life, of grasping daily activities, of being in relation. Let us ask ourselves the following questions: what are our perceptions? How do I comprehend this or that? How do I feel today? Learning to be connected to our feelings is fundamental in order to then develop a way of being able to express them with serenity. To be as connected as possible, learn to no longer be afraid of your feelings or emotions, whatever they are and how to control them by simply recognizing them, with benevolence. Then, being aware of the body in movement will help us considerably.
To come back to the particular movement of the Danse du Sensible, let’s say that we first have the conscious gesture. The slowness that we experience in movement will first allow us to slow down our gestural habits to develop inner perception and become aware of the gesture. Then it will allow us to rely on this inner perception so that what needs to be expressed can be expressed. We are here, in the free, sensory movement. A dynamic which comes from deep within lets us dance. This is the inner movement that expresses itself in the gesture and we become conscious; we are here and now, meaning that we become conscious of the gesture. I am talking about the conscious gesture whereby we develop presence in the course of the path of movement. At every moment, we will be present during the movement; this is the foundation of the practice. Based on the slowness, we can then let the inner movement guide us, lead our gesture. All we have to do is be present, here and now with our gesture that expresses itself. From the moment we become aware of our inner movement and our way in which we allow it to express itself, we will be able to let our creative impulses spring up in the same way that we let the gesture emerge. We can thus let ideas come to our thoughts, as well as choices.
With creativity, intuition comes into play. It is about being in the present, tuning into the subtle feelings of our needs, our desires, our impulses. Going from a wanting to a letting be is the fundamental dimension present in the expression of our dance. This is why, in Danse du Sensible we develop not only slowness, but also the relationship with our own feelings. To get to know ourselves, step by step and more and more, in this relationship with ourselves where we listen to what is happening inside and welcome it. We are listening to our hearts. When I say listening to the heart, I mean listening to oneself with kindness. By far, it is judgments that prevent constructive creativity: when we compare ourselves with others, or the high expectations we have of ourselves; these are the obstacles we create for ourselves that often hinder expression. It is for this reason that we must continue to develop kindness toward ourselves. Only when we can profoundly understand the stakes of our interactions with one another, can our creativity naturally unfold.
I would like to say a few more things on the subject of expression; I will come back to the tools used later on.
The more we let our impulses of expression live, the better we feel. Give ourselves the opportunity to express ourselves. The expression of our inner life, sharing our inner life, this inner pressure wanting to escape, it is a pressure for expression. Sharing our perceptions, our emotions, our states, our feelings with the outside always creates a form of relaxation, even relief, or joy, a sort of jubilation. At the same time there is liberation (we liberate things which are inside), and sharing with others. Therefore, the interpersonal dimension is fundamental: the relationship with oneself, the relationship with the other, our life as a human being. However, it is also based on this interpersonal dimension that creativity is developed. Creativity is the expression of sharing; the expression of a desire to contribute. Being able to affect someone else with our expression can bring a profound feeling of connection, even of belonging to a human community. A feeling of relief comes with this profound feeling: all of a sudden we are overwhelmed by the feeling of “I am recognized”, as a living human being with feelings.
Self-expression always nurtures self-recognition. Every time we express something, we recognize ourselves. First of all, one reveals oneself to oneself to show who we are, to show our ability to exist, with the help from others. This means showing our capacity to be here and now, present in the world. The way in which we express ourselves has an effect on the place that we occupy in this world: to have a place within the human community, it is also that. Indeed, expression shows parts of us that are usually invisible, both to oneself, as to others. Expression of the inner dance can thus lead to a better recognition of who we are.
This recognition, this dimension of self-expression, provides us with our place, where we should be; no, more than that, it confirms our place. There is a place for each of us, but we don’t always recognize it. Self-recognition is a path. The expression in movement that we develop in the Danse du Sensible participates in nurturing the need for recognition, as a human being, as a spiritual being, incarnated in a body, as a being who, quite rightly has something to give and who is capable of expressing themselves. Expecting recognition from others is secondary. What is important is self-recognition; from this point, it is possible to start sharing expressiveness.
Self-recognition brings confidence which enables sharing; sharing ourselves with others. Dance is precisely about this: sharing something of ourselves with others.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t be attentive to feedback that others can give us, since this can always help us to learn, and there is often something to be had that can be fruitful. On the other hand, it is a matter of being careful not to expect recognition from others to nurture our own recognition. Everybody has experienced this, and we should be aware when we are in this state of expectation. When we become aware of this, we can provide ourselves with this recognition. Step by step, we can let go of this expectation; at the same time we can also let go of the fear of how the other person regards us, a feeling that often accompanies this expectation. We can thus develop our capacity to express ourselves by allowing ourselves to be touched, letting ourselves express our emotion through dance. This is the acceptance of letting go and dancing, to nurture self-recognition.
Let me come back to the relationship between creativity and freedom: creativity is the expression of freedom is what I said at the start. I would go as far as saying that we develop freedom when we feel confident and we feel safe inside. I was talking about recognition earlier, but it is also by being attentive to this need to feel safe that we can feel free. We cannot feel free if we don’t feel safe inside, in our inner self; this is because we feel scared, therefore, we cannot feel free. So, of course, the question is: how do we develop the feeling of safety? We can look for reasons why we do not feel safe: “when I was little, I was not given enough of this, or enough of that, or, this or that happened, etc.”. It is important to search for causes for a little while, because this helps us to recognize certain things, and to develop an initial comprehension of the situation; sometimes this even enables acceptation and to be able to move forward. During our entire life, events happen, some pleasant, others less so. The real question is what to do with what we get out of it. After all, it is not sufficient to just find causes; this does not nurture the feeling of security. I am not denying the importance of searching for causes, it is important to understand, but nurturing the feeling of security can be done through the relationship with oneself; the relationship that we have with our inner self. The less we are scared of ourselves, the more we can develop this capacity of being in contact with our inner states, without fear, the more we can feel safe. The path of being in the here and now in our body is a good vector to learn how to feel safe.
Now let’s develop the relationship between the inner experience and the way to live the good life, since this is the continuity of this idea. I suggested exploring this interiority to see that when we can witness and feel the dance in the inner self, there is something that is really comforting about dancing in the outer self. By letting the movement dance, we are nurtured; let your emotions dance, let your inner states dance. Being in contact with this will allow us to build up confidence. If we do not know what is going on inside, inevitably, we develop apprehension. If we are scared, we don’t feel safe. If we are aware of what is going on inside, the fear disappears. This works even if what we feel is fear, because the feeling is identified. When we get close to ourselves, our feelings become more familiar and we are less scared of our own fear. It is therefore about developing the feeling of safety in order to feel free. I would say that it is a foundation for getting the best out of life (or living the good life) to find in ourselves the strength of the feeling of safety that opens up the freedom, that in turn allows at this point in time the creativity to express itself. In this interiority of the body in motion (or movement), love unfolds and can be shared.
In our gestural movements, in our outward dance, we develop the capacity of allowing ourselves to be guided by the force that is inside us; this force that is spiritual and at the same time emanates from our own matter. This force from the expressive movement is about learning; it is about an encounter at this point, and developing this capacity to be carried away by the inner movement. This is not simply about learning to makes gestures outside. Learning how to create choreographic creations could be an extension of it. But it is first about how to learn to perceive ourselves so that all of our potential can be expressed and be given through who we are.
Thereafter, in creativeness, there is a personality dimension. There is particularity, the identity that one gives to expression, that is unique, that belongs to who we are, to our particular being. We are all different; we are human beings with a common, universal dimension, a dimension that reunites us as human beings. At the same time, we can see that we are different from each other, even from our parents, brothers, sisters, and children. We are so very different that in order to learn how to get the best out of life, could it also mean deeply accepting, with our heart and kindness, our particularities? That is to say, contacting the universal, contacting the movement that expresses itself within ourselves and provides us with our own direction. When I talk about inner movement, I am talking about contacting this universal dimension, this spiritual dimension that transcends our daily thoughts. And then, accept that we each have a way of being, a way of thinking, whether in our body, even a different physiology that will make our expressions different; this expression will be specific. I am really asking this question: can we (not) accept that we are both unique and deeply universal at the same time, in our way of expressing ourselves? Dare to be creative is to profoundly accept this specificity of our individuality.
When I talk about listening with one’s heart and dancing with one’s heart, there is a connection with the energy from the universe that reinforces humanity. Dance becomes our humanity that can be shared; a humanity where there is acceptance of each unique being, and that the things that pass through us can be shared. It is because we can fully accept ourselves, recognize our particularities, love our own lives that something can give. Therefore, giving can happen.
The Danse du Sensible is a practice that aims at taking these dimensions of self-welcome and self-acceptance to the depths of the inner self; to begin with, it is a glance that is directed toward the inner self, toward the perception of what lives within our body. Then, the Danse du Sensible invites a movement from the inner to the outer, to welcome and to accept what emerges from the inner experience and to allow expression happen. I would say that the objective of Danse du Sensible is to take that which drives us most deeply into our gestural expression; thereafter to transpose this sensitive experience of connection with our own experience in dance, a full and complete expressive experience and the experience of self-transformation, into our ways of being in life, so that life is a sensitive dance, full of love and meaning.
Participant: Is there a therapeutic dimension to the Danse du Sensible?
CL: There is a healing aspect with regard to movement. When one connects to their inner self, I would say that the healing aspect comes from the fact that the inner movement touches immobile zones within us. They are put into movement. This can happen with more or less difficulty, depending on the problem, which can be physiological or psychological. Immobility describes zones that are shackled. “Sensorial movement” is a movement of extreme slowness that enables us to be in contact with our inner self. This movement enables the contact with these zones that are prevented, blocked, buried and suffering. Allowing movement to circulate inside oneself can permit the movement to come back to these particular zones. However, for me, there is another healing aspect. When I talk about dance therapy, it is about taking care of the parts of us that need it most. We all have problems that are more or less serious. Everyone has problems to work through, and the healing aspect applies to these zones, to these specific problems. How can movement make us discover other possibilities, other zones, other viewpoints? Because discovering immobility can also be a way to suggest other amplitudes, orientations, other ways to be in one’s body or in movement. The other dimension is truly the dimension of taking care of everything that is within us. To take care means to listen with infinite benevolence, to welcome all parts of us, our sensations, emotions, desires, the history that is buried deep inside us, all that is hidden within, in order to give it its legitimate place, and to make it a strength, not a weakness. Words that name what emerges from the depths within are an aspect of the therapeutic experience of the Danse du Sensible. It is this dimension, to “take care” that I mentioned earlier when I talked about inner experience. The inner experience with movement and the awareness of the body in movement is a path to access what we are made of, and it can genuinely be a way to take care of oneself; a sort of internal ecology.