Creative Wellness: The Healing Power of Art Using Our Creative Intuition To Feel Better
Now before you launch into the "I am not an artist" or "I can't draw anything" argument STOP and relax. Let's compare it to journaling. If you ever have kept a journal or a diary I assume you never expected to become a great American novelist in the process. You probably didn't even let yourself worry about sentence structure or spelling. It was your journal and the thoughts you put down were more important than the form. Intuitive/Healing art-making is the same. It is like visual journaling. You don't have to think about color theory or perspective. Think of it as medicine. Art as Medicine. Medicine being defined as that which helps us to learn, grow, re-balance, or heal. Medicine comes in many forms. Our bodies respond to imagery and images can by-pass the fear-based and critical aspects of our brains interrupting our negative patterns that keep us from well-being. Our bodies also speak to us in non-verbal ways through pain and sensations; dreams and processes (such as yawning). Slowing down enough to create imagery can help us to learn our body's unique language and help us to relax. Making art as a visual journal can be a mindfulness practice. You don't have to over-analyze yourself. This is about self awareness but also self care and that means being gentle and forgiving in the process. Don't think too much. Sometimes the insights come long after the time you gifted to yourself to pause and create. Let yourself trust, play, and get curious about the process. Just see what happens and you just might be surprised.
A Self Guided Exercise NOTE: I am going to focus on anxiety for this exercise but you could replace the word Anxiety with Pain or Tension or Fear or Stress OR EVEN FOOT PAIN. Accessing your Anxiety with Imagery
Get a piece of paper and some crayons. Find a quiet space and give yourself at least 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted time for this exercise. Take three deep breaths. Consciously suggest to yourself it is time to tune into your relationship with your body. Now, close your eyes and take a minute or two to scan down over your body with your awareness. Bring to mind a situation or problem causing you anxiety. Try to visualize or recall the situation bringing you anxiety in as much detail as possible. On a scale of 1-10 how anxious are you feeling right now? Remember that number. Now, notice what your anxiety feels like in the body. We are not explore "why you feel anxious" but the sensation of anxiety itself. Where is the anxiety? Do you notice it in your belly, head, or throat, for example? Focus on that area. Notice the sensations. Does the area feel tight? Heavy? Blocked? How would you describe it? (Example: butterflies in my stomach.) Let yourself really FEEL what it feels like in the body. Go into the sensation without trying to explain it. Let your body know you are here today to listen to what it has to tell you. Tell your body you would like to learn more about your anxiety. Now, with your imagination, go to the area of your body where you feel the anxiety. Notice what it looks like. What color is it? What shape is it? Does it look familiar? Does it move? Is it attached to anything? Notice as many details as you can and when you are ready open your eyes and begin to draw what you see and feel on the paper. Remember this is not about making art it is about self-discovery. As you draw you may get more information or details about your anxiety. Keep working until it feels complete. Now answer these questions. 1. Is there anything about your image/anxiety that surprised you? 2. What do the colors or images mean? 3. Imagine your anxiety can talk. Ask it - "Why are you here? I want to know more about you." OR "What do you have to tell me right now?" It is important to write down your answer on paper. What does it have to say? 4. Write down any other insights that seem important to you right now. 5 NOW ask your anxiety if there is anything you can add to the drawing to ease, heal, release, or reduce the anxiety. Close your eyes and again let images come into your imagination. Draw whatever comes to your mind without thinking about it too much. You might draw right over your drawing or you may feel a desire to make a whole new drawing that helps to resolve the feeling of anxiety within your body. What can you do to the drawing or in response to the drawing that feels healing and soothing to your anxiety? 6. When you are done. Notice how you are feeling. Has anything changed in your body? If you think about the situation again does the anxiety feel the same? On a scale of 1-10 how does your anxiety feel now? While such an exercise may not eliminate a situation that is causing anxiety it should help to ease the intensity of the anxiety allowing you to approach the situation again with a clearer mind and new perspective.