Art and Creativity for Healing

Tammi Baliszewski, Ph.D. writes a beautiful account of using Art and Creativity for Healing:

What exactly is the effect of creating art? Can painting, singing,  dancing, making pottery or poetry really change or heal us? My research and  experience has me absolutely convinced it does. In fact, from my perspective,  creativity is the most healing tool we have available to claim a more empowered,  healthy and fulfilling life.

More than simply “art,” I am addressing the act of creative self-expression;  a vital, powerful and vibrant act, which is much more than painting a pretty  picture or singing a song. Creativity is the opportunity to give expression to  the soul and can support us in living an authentic, empowered and passionate  lives. Creativity is the opportunity to communicate one’s true self and allow us  to express our own awesome, wonderful, interesting and unique version of the  Divine.

I often hear people claim they are not creative. It is my belief, as human  beings, we are all aspects of the Creator, and therefore innately and naturally  creative. Anyone who has walked into a kindergarten classroom has experienced  the high vibrational energy of creativity. No four or five year old says “I’m  not an artist.” That is a learned or acquired limiting belief. Picasso said it  best: “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you  grow up.”

Even if one has lost that sense of being an artist, saying yes to creative  endeavors, in any form, can be a powerful tool for introspection, revelation and  deep healing. It can also be a way to communicate and connect with a much deeper  part of ourselves. Creativity can help us to understand who we are, what we feel  and why we are here.

Optimal health comes from the balance of body, mind and spirit. When the  spirit is awake, it can dialogue with the body and mind. When the soul is  listened to, honored and expressed, the body, mind and spirit are aligned and  resonate congruently. When the spirit is not listened to, imbalance will  inevitably occur. When we do not do not have genuinely meaningful activities to  pursue, aliveness eventually turns to listlessness; one can easily become  distracted or even addicted. When we are disconnected from our creativity we can  become anxious, bored and/or uneasy. In order to reduce this anxiety many turn  to food, alcohol, drugs, sex or other anxiety-reducing activities.

Art and creativity has its own kind of language and reaches us in ways words  cannot. Bypassing the intellect, visual symbols, music, dance and other forms of  creative expression can provide a sense of relief, joy, understanding, wonder,  excitement and/or peace. Studies indicate that art has the powerful potential to  heal. This is done by shifting ones thoughts, focus and attitude. Art can affect  the autonomic nervous system, hormonal balance and create different brain wave  patterns. This can instantly change a person’s attitude from fear to hope and  their physiology from that of stress to relaxation.

Creativity is also a powerful way we can heal emotional trauma. When we  acknowledge and give expression to our buried feelings, past hurts, anguish and  pain, a great burden is lifted as we release the heavy, toxic build up of  emotions or “energy in motion.” In Barbara Ganim’s book “Art and Healing”, she explains how creativity can be a powerful tool for emotional and  physical healing: “Art is the voice or expression of this inner language.  Expressing painful emotions through color, form, shape and image, releases their  hold on the body and mind, clearing the path for healing.”

In order to clear out any unexpressed emotions one may transfer the imagistic  expression of them onto paper, canvas or sculpture. Once this is done, not only  does the artist detach from stress producing emotions, it can also support one  in seeing things from a new perspective. Messages can serve as a guide to assist  in the resolution of inner emotional conflict. It is then possible to transform  negative images that represent painful uncomfortable emotions into positive  constructive images that can activate the healing response from within.

Art is a powerful tool and gives us the capacity and ability to express not  just buried emotions, but also complex and overwhelming ones. Many have found  that making art, even years or decades after trauma has occurred, can initiate  the process of recovery and reparation. Creativity can support us in taking  charge of how we experience our emotional reactions and minimize the stress in  our bodies, minds and lives.

Gene Cohen, director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George  Washington University in Washington, D.C., found that art gave study  participants a sense of accomplishment, boosted the immune system and decreased  loneliness. Cohen was quoted as saying: “Art is like chocolate to the brain, it  taps into both sides. It has benefited the soul of the species since the time of  cavemen or before.”

To read on, visit Dr. Tammi Baliszewski’s full article.

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