Creativity and Mindfulness

The intrepid Ramsey Margolis, founder of the One Mindful Breath secular Buddhist group in Wellington, New Zealand, as well as a new secular Buddhist publishing house, the Tuwhiri Project, has an exciting new project, Creative Dharma, a monthly newsletter looking at how we might use creativity in meditation practice, and bring meditative sensibility into our artistic practice. The newsletter is on Substack– you can sign up for it here: https://creativedharma.substack.com/. This theme reflects an emerging focus in Stephen Batchelor’s work (see: https://www.stephenbatchelor.org/index.php/en/creative-awareness).

For myself, I find the heart of practice involves coming alive to the richly creative interdependent processes from which we arise. I often reflect on the deep connection between creativity and mindfulness practice in my role as the Mindfulness and Wellness Clinical Educator with the Health Arts and Humanities (HAH) Program (www.health-humanties.com) in the University of Toronto, led by my old friend, Dr Allan Peterkin. Allan has a gift for cooking up interesting, worthwhile projects. This academic year I am involved in facilitating two HAH projects. The first involves a course/group for a dozen U of T medical residents and fellows using Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy (EFMT) as well as Touching the Earth (TtE) processes for cultivating self-care and therapeutic presence.

Another is the Interprofessional Health, Arts and Humanities Certificate Program. HAH has partnered with the U of T Interprofessional Education Program to create an annual program for students from U of T’s eleven clinical programs, including nursing, medicine, dentistry, occupational health and social work. This is the second year we have provided this.

The aim of this certificate program is to foster the development of collaborative, patient/client-centered care as well to promote self-care. The program is designed to advance a deeper understanding of health, illness, suffering, disability and the provision of healthcare by creating a community of scholars in the arts, humanities and clinical sciences. Previous iterations of the program have been well received by learners from across the health professions, allowing learners to employ arts-based modalities to enhance reflection, to deepen collegial dialogue, and to explore creative options for renewal and for maintaining wellbeing and resilience.

In the fall, Karen Gold, MSW, RSW, and colleagues are leading students in four sessions of Narrative-Based Healthcare. In the winter, they get four sessions with me and Rodelyn Wisco, MSW, RSW, on “Reflection, Mindfulness and Resilience in Clinical Life: How Self-Care Fosters Empathic Care.” Our sessions will also draw on EFMT and TtE perspectives and practices. The students also attend various other offerings provided by the U of T Health Arts and Humanities community and then work collaboratively to create and present artistic projects in the fall.