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Our name SoulDuster was inspired by Picasso’s saying, “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”. So what does art have to do with our soul? To help us answer this question, let’s follow this 3-part blog series to explore Art As Healing.

Have You Ever Stopped To Think About The Relationship Between Art And Healing?

It can be very powerful so here are some ideas to think about: Aristotle said, “the soul does not think without an image”. What can we learn from our own images? When we draw spontaneously images come from not only the conscious mind but also the unconscious mind. These images, like dream images, can be our inner teachers if we work to understand them, respecting that the unconscious can lead us in a way that facilitates a healing process.

Art As Healing Chair
Chair, by Paula Schmidt

Art (Therapy) As A Path To Healing

Art As Healing Portrait
Portrait, by Omar Alnahi

Art as a form of self-expression is a unique reflection of its creator. As such, it provides a vehicle for communicating ideas and emotions, and is also a key to the door of the inner mind– the incredible world of the unconscious.

Not only does art facilitate healing by externalizing thoughts and feelings, but also by obtaining insights to hidden concerns that may be preventing individuals from achieving their full potential. In both these ways it contributes to our mental and emotional health and encourages personal growth and development.

The Psyche And The Soma

As Carl Jung said, “it is less a question of treatment than of developing the creative possibilities latent within the patient himself.” Those who make a place for artistic expression in their lives provide themselves with a creative outlet that promotes healing. Because the psyche (mind) and soma (body) are constantly interacting, health lies not in the body alone but also in the mind. Any creative activity therefore that relieves stress, promotes ease rather than dis-ease. Today music, dance, drama and the visual arts are increasingly used in the interest of healing, and are gradually gaining more acceptances in the traditional community.

The use of the arts in healing in general has much to do with the externalization of feelings and the release of negative emotions in a way that is safe for the individual and without harm to others. This single fact does much to promote mental health.

Creativity And Birth

Art As Healing Create Art
Immerse in Art Creation, SoulDuster Collection

Unfortunately one of the biggest blocks to the creative act is the belief that what is created is supposed to be a “work of art” and as such to be admired by others, whether this is a poem, a painting or a piece of music. We compare ourselves to the Michaelangelo’s of this world and find ourselves sadly lacking. However if we can get past this barrier and enjoy the sheer flow of words, the texture of the paint or the tonal sounds, we experience the satisfaction of being in the moment and literally going with the flow. We find we have in fact created something entirely unique from the very core of our being. This is the wonder of birthing and very like bringing a child into the world. It requires a personal surrender to the process, a willingness to be both the vessel and the vehicle, and even suffering as part of the delivery.

The Inner Experience

The joy of being a part of the creative process and seeing its manifestation is unparalleled. There is now tangible evidence of an inner experience. It is made real by the act. It is no longer a figment of the imagination. As our manifestations of the inner life increase we provide ourselves with a record of the journey, we have a personal validation. The creative person is like a pregnant woman. As vessel she is willing to provide a container, a dark, cushioned place, protected from the jarring influences of the outside world, where the new seed can grow in optimal conditions. She pays attention to her lifestyle and what she takes into her system so that the seed develops its own life in the best possible way. When the time is right and the gestation completes she then becomes the vehicle through which this seed becomes its own entity with a unique personality and characteristics. She continues to nurse and protect the child and eventually has to separate from the treasure she brought into the world. As Kahlil Gibran says in “The Prophet”

“Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you …
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

What is true of our children is also true of all other creative endeavors.The second value of art in the interest of healing lies at a deeper level and requires more introspection and a willingness to interact with the image in a way that is comparable to dream work. The advantage of the visual image over dreams is that we have something to see that does not fade with the dawn.

To see how art is used to help one heal, continue to Part 2: The Value of Spontaneous Drawings

Article by Margaret Carpenter Arnett BSN ATR, artist and art therapist with 30 years’ experience. Find out more about Margaret’s work at MargaretCarpenterArnett.com

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