Re-experiencing traumatic events through writing or making art can unleash a tidal wave of emotions. For me, this used to result in not writing much, because I was more concerned with keeping my head above water.
There is great wisdom and beauty in our emotions, but without a way to honor and hold them, they can feel like a flood after a hurricane.
Containers hold other aspects of our lives — greetings open and close meetings, packing and unpacking begin and end trips, and commuting traditionally surrounds the workday. These transitional experiences help us process content, create order, and set boundaries.
But when it comes to our interior creative lives, we must make our own structure. Artists and writers throughout history have created rituals to hold a sacred space for their work by lighting candles, writing on special paper, dedicating a physical space, playing special music, or reciting invocations.
These practices can take some time to establish. It took years for me to understand that I create best in the dreamy hours before the world wakes up. I've been closing the writing container and starting my day with a short yoga practice. Twisting and moving emotions along the fibers of my muscles helps me transition into an outward facing world.
Containers can be reinforced and modified. After delving into particularly raw experiences, I close my computer or notebook and say, “I honor the power and beauty of writing by closing this sacred container.” I also love the practice of drawing an oracle card and asking for guidance for the day ahead.
My emotions are my intuition, my golden compass. They are an essential part of how I create. When I make a protected space for my emotional life, I am less afraid of letting big feelings in and more confident that I have the strength to hold them. Allowing emotions to flow makes me feel part of nature, like the clouds and trees that give and take water to live.