Where Does Art come from?- Part 2: The Art of Healing
I would not put a Shaman, Neurosurgeon and Artist in the same sentence if it weren’t for the remarkable similarity they have in the healing process. Art makes me feel something, both as an artist and by simply enjoying the art and creativity of others.
Every thought, dream or action creates a remarkable chemical dance within our brain. Molecules called neurotransmitters are in constant motion and the brain itself communicates by sending out chemical information from one nerve cell to another.
This concept isn’t new. Art and music were believed to influence the hunt, fertility, the crops, the weather, the life of the tribe, and the earth. Creative expression can make a powerful contribution to the healing process and has been embraced in many different cultures. Throughout recorded history, people have used dances, stories, pictures and chants as healing rituals.Religious art believes that listening to certain sounds or meditating on images will put a person into a sacred state and can heal.
A Navajo tradition is sandpainting. The person was placed on the ground and the sandpainting was made by a shaman (medicine man) around them. The sandpainting image told a traditional Navajo healing story and the healer, while the painting was being made, told the story to the tribe. They believed that the story painted, and the shapes and colors, directly communicated to the spirits and healed the patient.
It seems we had gotten away from this symphony of these two practices and western medicine stood alone in the idea of human health. Thankfully, that is changing and Art and Healing are joining and becoming one. The impact of Art Therapy or Expressive Arts is now helping people in a powerful way in expressing feelings to foster self-healing. Putting paint on a canvas, like a child, can be fun and a release to the burden of trauma or feelings that are deeply rooted. Art helps to express yourself, and art helps you understand your emotions, the social world, the natural world, and your place in the grand-scheme of things. It also helps you express the unspoken and difficult-to-communicate complex ideas within us.
Music is the most accessible and most researched medium of art and healing. There has been an emphasis on the soothing capacity of music and its ability to enhance traditional therapies. Every cell in the body instantly is affected by Art and Music and creates a healing physiology that increases blood flow to all of the organs and changes the immune system.It also immediately changes a person’s perceptions of their world. Their attitude, emotional state, and their experience of pain.
Healers are discovering that art, music, dance and poetry have profound healing effects. Doctors, nurses, and therapists working with artists and musicians, have observed that art and music, combined with traditional medicine is a powerful healing combination. Synchronously, artists and musicians have found that art and music may heal themselves and others around them. Expressive writing and journaling can improve control over depressed moods, and the severity of pain. Art helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words, such as a diagnosis of cancer or a trauma. Some people explore the meanings of past, present, and future during art therapy, thereby integrating their life story and giving it meaning.
Today many healing artists also believe that their art helps heal the earth. They are making environmental or eco-art to heal neighborhoods, rivers or to create world peace.
Art, prayer, meditation and healing all take us into our inner world, the world of visions, imagery, emotions and feelings. This reflection inward bridges to the soul, spirit and mind and is deeply healing. The field of art will be changed and the field of medicine will be changed.
Whatever creativity you enjoy, know that you are connecting. Whether it is dance, writing, drawing, painting, singing, playing a musical instrument, composing,design,ceramics, photography, math or science, working in your garden or creating recipes in your kitchen – artistic and creative expression will give you a way to connect with yourself and tangibly identify emotions, thoughts, and ideas.
What is being born is a whole new way of healing and making art that will change our lives, which will bring wholeness and a sustaining marriage of art and medicine.
NEXT: Where Does Art Come From? Part 3 - The Energy of Urban Art
"Art As I See It" is a column by Barbara Mosher In which she provides her insight on the world of art, including thought-inducing commentary, the process of art, and to showcase artists.
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