Art, Music, Dance and Poetry have profound healing effects. Doctors, nurses, and therapists are now working with artists and musicians to heal people of all ages with many conditions including Cancer and AIDS. Healers have found that art and music, combined with traditional medicine are powerful healing tools. At the same time, artists and musicians have found that art and music heals themselves and others around them. The artists and musicians who have healed themselves of illness are changing the art and music they perform to become healing art.
Ashes and Snow
Ashes to Snow 2
Art and healing is a new field in both the medical world and the art world. The new field of healing art includes all the arts: painting, sculpture, music, dance, poetry, storytelling, journaling, whatever we usually think of as the creative arena. Art therapy and expressive arts overlap art and healing. They are both mature fields that have used art in healing for many years. They tend to concentrate more on therapy, method, and training although many art therapists focus on art itself as the healing process too. In art and healing, the artist is you. No training is needed, the creative process itself heals.
The Creative Process of Art - and Art making is Healing and Life Enhancing. The life - affirming pleasures of creativity and art making can reinforce and enhance self-esteem, physical, mental, and emotional well being.
"Art, Writing – Dance – and Music (therapy), requires no prior artistic or writing skills, dance experiences or musical knowledge – such as the ability, for example, to play an instrument.
In fact, when trained artists writers, dancers or musicians are in therapy, there is often the danger of their running into conflicts with their personal aesthetic standards. Having an open mind about music and how it is employed in therapy is, rather, much more likely to lead to a successful outcome.
When patients in an active group therapy are able to stop worrying self-critically about how well they are performing and are simply able to enjoy what they are doing, they are then able to achieve a greater sense of composure, can actively reduce the stresses they are experiencing and, in general, reach a higher degree of self-acceptance.
In the oncological context this often also means a new relationship to the injured self, or even a new body identity – important healing outcomes when coming to terms with a cancer illness."
The divine spark of creativity is in each and every one of us. It doesn't matter what age you are.
Throughout history, world civilizations, including ancient China and Egypt, Renaissance Europe and Native American nations, have incorporated art into their healing practices for body, mind and spirit.
Language in itself is a very limited form of communication in that a word or phrase can mean different things depending on the maturity, mindset and culture of the person speaking. Communicating through colors, line, shapes, shading, etc is a much more dynamic way of expressing our diverse and complex emotions. Art crosses the boundaries of age, culture, and mental capabilities and allows anyone an outlet for communicating their innermost fears and desires. When we have more freedom in the way we express ourselves it makes it easier to tap into our subconscious and heal old fears so we can uncover our suppressed passions and dreams.
Even Florence Nightingale observed the effect beautiful things could have on patients. In her 1898 book, Notes on Nursing, she wrote “People say the effect is only on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body, too. Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by color and light, we do know this, that they have an actual physical effect.” Modern studies have shown that exposure to the arts can have a positive impact on a patient’s physical and psychological well-being.
Art and music affect every cell in the body instantly to create a healing physiology that changes the immune system and blood flow to all the organs. Art and Music also immediately change a person's perceptions of their world. They change attitude, emotional state, and pain perception. They create hope and positivity and they help people cope with difficulties. They transform a person's outlook and way of being in the world.
"The healing arts, or creative soul therapies, put a person in a different brain wave pattern; art, music, dance, meditation etc, affect a person's autonomic nervous system, their hormonal balance and their brain neurotransmitters. Legendary therapist Carl Rogers created the field of person centered expressive arts, bringing together the creative energies of movement, sound, visual arts, creative arts, drama and music with a humanistic therapeutic orientation.
In fact it is now known by neurophysiologists that art, prayer, and healing all come from the same source in the body, they all are associated with similar brain wave patterns, mind body changes and they all are deeply connected in feeling and meaning. Art, prayer, and healing all take us into our inner world, the world of imagery and emotion, of visions and feelings. This journey inward into what used to be called the spirit or soul and is now called the mind, is deeply healing. For healing comes to us from within, our own healing resources are freed to allow our immune system to operate optimally and that is always how we heal. This is the contemporary version of freeing our healing energies and is now recognized to be crucial to healing. We go inward on The Creative Spiral together through art and music"
Creative Soul therapies have the capacity to take us to the home of the soul, the world within for which we have no names. They reach our deepest nature, and creatively expresses it. Through the healing Arts, we can gain new insights into the mystery of our inner lives. When brought forth from inside and forged by the desire to create personal change, the process of creative arts have the profound power to heal the body, psyche and soul. Our journey through illness and health, and the power of creating art to illuminate the way, is a passionate aspect of my life’s work.
There are as many art projects for healing as there are art mediums, and most are adaptable to your own needs and artistic preferences. Some of the more common ways to heal using art projects are drawing and painting, collage, journaling, creative writing, art-journaling, singing, creating or listening to music and dancing, to name just a few. Healing arts helps the healing process by allowing you to express your unique self, and helping you discover your feelings and express them. Every person must experience and decide for themselves with art mediums are best for them.
Regularly visits to the museums and art exhibitions have been a great way to continually inspire me. They expanded my world by showing collections of art and artifacts that I would not be able to see unless I traveled extensively. The art also connected me to other places and other times through the visual experience. By seeing works of art throughout time, I appreciate the talent, the art form, the method of expression, as well as the affect of color on mood or emotion.
A membership to museums and theater arts organizations is a great way to have the information come to you about what is going on in your community. If you join a museum, even at a low cost, you will be notified of the changing exhibits or events.
The next few pages are not just about therapy and the research about them, it's about the giggles, smiles and joy you will experience. They are food for the soul. The soul's primary "food" is the feeling of joy and happiness for no particular reason. Joy is the organic state of the soul.Happiness is our original nature. When happiness is the fuel and motivating force behind our desires and intentions, there is no end to growth and expansion of love, knowledge, creativity and strength. Without such happiness, however, we stumble in darkness and are vulnerable, insecure and restless.
The soul, or what I call the core self or true self, being the very essence of whom and what we are is our life force and therefore it needs food on a regular basis to sustain us and prevent us from becoming stagnant and unfulfilled with life. You can discover your soul food by listening to the yearnings of your soul or core self, by being still and tuning into your deepest voice within. Your core self will guide you to what it needs. Don't ignore it and don't put it off. Once you learn what you need, nourish it on a regular basis. If you neglect your soul or core self then it becomes hungry and searches for food in the wrong places, which is destructive to your life and zaps you of your life sustaining energy.
It is essential to realize that every ailment or dis-ease informs us of our resistances that produce our imbalances. Dis-ease provides a focal point for discovering all the negative energies we have cultivated and how they have become displaced within our lives. The repetition of our negative experiences is nature's way of bringing us back into reflection of total balance. However, when we fail to see the nature of dis-ease it is not possible to get rid of the negative aspects that have created it. In our healing process towards wholeness our lessons are learned through the experience of our bodies. A dis-ease healed naturally leaves a person stronger. When we use the natural processes of healing we come to recognize and understand our fundamental weaknesses by replacing them with true strength.
What is nourishing to the soul or core self ?
The things that make you feel whole, alive, and one with the universe (or God) is your soul food. This will vary from individual to individual, as our souls or core selves are very unique and complex, although many of us have some commonalities. Some common sources of soul food are nature, music, dancing, deep relationships, meditation, walking, prayer and many more (see some suggestion in the list below).
The essential process of healing ourselves with art, music, or dance involves our own personal change. When we are ill with a physical or mental problem or when we need to grow, we start to heal ourselves with art by opening ourselves up to our inner voices of change. We allow ourselves to listen to those voices and to let their messages to us emerge.
Discover Your Joyful Side
The Soul - Food Therapies, mentioned below, are rich in nutrition to feed your soul, to keep your inner light radiant and alive. Like your physical body needs the right food to function well.
In this section, you will find art projects for healing and self empowerment. Most of these projects are ones that I have used myself. They have supported me to heal from cancer and to deal with various emotional blocks and issues.
They are very powerful in supporting your mind - body balance and your immune system and for that I highly recommend them to anyone and to people who are ill with a life - threatening or chronic disease. So, don’t neglect your soul! Listen carefully to what it has to say, nourish it and nurture it every single day of your life. It is as important, if not more so, as feeding your hungry stomach, which also talks to you in a rumbling voice, telling you of its need for food. If your soul has been neglected for any amount of time, it is never too late to begin again, as the soul has an amazing ability to recover and flourish all over again.
Goals of Creative Soul Therapies
- Encourage the self-expression of thoughts and feelings related with illness/hospitalization.
- Help patients (adults and children process and work through traumatic experiences associated with hospitalization.
- Facilitate positive self-esteem and positive body image.
- Promote a sense of independence and feelings of control.
- Provide peer interaction and a sense of community within the hospital environment.
- Encourage the development of healthy strategies for coping with hospitalization.
- Encourage the self-expression of thoughts and feelings related with chronic pain/illness.
- Facilitate children/adolescents' understanding of how chronic pain/illness affects their lives.
- Understand how situations may increase pain perception and/or stress.
- Learn effective techniques to promote self-management of chronic pain.
- Learn effective techniques to self-manage stress and anxiety related to chronic illness.
- Facilitate the process of acceptance for children struggling with a chronic condition.
- Facilitate adaptation to physical limitations.
- Promote problem-solving skills.
- Facilitate hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.
- Encourage non-verbal communication skills
For recovering from brain injury:
- Raise awareness and orientation to things such as time, date and place.
- Increase attention-span and decrease frustration level.
- Follow step-by-step directions more easily.
- Organize thoughts to make independent decisions.
- Facilitate the process of representing thoughts symbolically.
- Encourage the process of cause and effect problem solving