Art Therapy - it is the changes in your body when you become completely absorbed in creating...a form of meditation. Every form of art can be a form of therapy- writing, poetry, song, music, dance, painting (with fingers-sponges and carved potatoes if you like), stenciling, tracing, drawing, crafting, cooking, sewing, scrapbooking, woodburning, photography, video, performing, comedy, and website design -these are just some examples. Explore your medium. Let yourself go, you will be attracted to what will give you satisfaction.

Our bodies need to heal and they do this best when in a state of deep relaxation. Together or apart, art and music can bring the body into its natural state of balance and harmony, so it can best do what it was meant to do. Many of us, when creating, become so absorbed that we fall naturally into that "altered" state. It reveals the sub-conscious mind, exposing the emotions that we were not ready to face or couldn't yet express consciously. The images in paintings, drawings etc. can be seen as some sort of code- kind of like dreams, a deeper expression.

Sometimes words limit us, sometimes there are no words for the emotions we feel, sometimes our grief or anger is so deep that we subconsciously block the expression of it for fear it will overwhelm us. Using art is a way to get there, to naturally heal, to refuse the ego's interference. Once we can see it, then we can begin to understand it, and our relationship to it is altered. Let art be your souls way of speaking.

Edvard Munch said:

"We want more than a mere photograph of nature. We do not want to paint pretty pictures to be hung on drawing-room walls. We want to create, or at least lay the foundations of, an art that gives something to humanity. An art that arrests and engages. An art created of one's innermost heart."

-He paints, or rather regards, things in a way that is different from that of other artists. He sees only the essential, and that, naturally, is all he paints. For this reason Munch’s pictures are as a rule ‘not complete’, as people are so delighted to discover for themselves. Oh, yes, they are complete. His complete handiwork. Art is complete once the artist has really said everything that was on his mind, and this is precisely the advantage Munch has over painters of the other generation, that he really knows how to show us what he has felt, and what has gripped him, and to this he subordinates everything else.

Even though we did not discuss Edvard Munch and his works in class, his words had a profound impact on me and my journey this semester. I myself had not heard of him before the start of the term, or even after weeks into it, but when I was finally introduced- a greeting long overdue, I was overcome with the strangest feeling. You see, when I choose to do my action project- self-expression of emotions onto canvas, I was unable to formulate words to describe what I truly meant. No matter how hard I tried to describe it to others, the way I felt just couldn't be translated. And so when I discovered this brilliant man I was overwhelmed with gratitude, he worded so fluidly what I kept failing to find words for. I was not only glad to find stubble upon the words of a man who knew exactly how I felt, but I was ecstatic and thankful to see that someone had spread the word, had passed on valid and influential information for current and all generations to come.

Give yourself the freedom to express what's inside you. Everyone has healing to do, there is a way out, but first one must revisit and recount the problem, not so as to stay stuck in it, but as a way to release yourself from it.

A formed list of ideas that may help one throughout their journey:

-Taking on visual arts -- drawing, painting, pastels, clay, photography, crafts, collages (using found objects, pictures from magazines, art materials, etc.)

-Performance arts -- acting, singing, dance, improvisation, stand-up comedy, playing an instrument

-Writing -- essays, short stories, monologues, poetry, music, plays, letters (not necessarily to be sent)

-Journaling -- either words or art (or both)

-Meditate -- through drawing, painting, sound (music, chanting, drumming), movement (tai chi is a form of moving meditation)

So if you find yourself in physical or emotional pain, if you're stressed at the end of your work day, if you're going through a difficult time, don't let the tensions build up. Use the art form of your choice and express your feelings, release the pain. Let the art heal you. Use it on a regular basis as "preventive medicine." It may sound too simple or easy, but it works, and we even have the scientific studies to assuage the skeptic in you. So, go . . . Create! Heal!- Elissa Ruccia

Enhancing Creativity Through Exploration

There are times in your creative life when your ideas seem stale. It's "same ol' same ol'," and nothing you come up with seems to excite you. You need some new inspiration. A great way to prime the pump is to go exploring.

One of the prominent qualities of inventors is their curiosity -- their drive to search, to know more, to take things apart and see how they tick. By exploring, you can stretch your imagination and vision, find new ideas and give new life to old ones.

-Take a walk through familiar places, but this time, take the time to stop and really look. Engage all your senses. Notice the sounds, the smells. Touch things, feel the textures. Try a food you've never tried before. If you're in the city, look at the buildings above eye level. You'll find lots of interesting architectural designs, old signs or carvings in the facade, the odd gargoyle, and perhaps some interesting characters hanging out the windows shouting to the neighbors. Bring along the video camera and record what you see.

-Explore parts of your town that you don't usually go to. What do you see? How does it make you feel to be there? Is there a reason you avoid this area, or is a place you'd want to come back to?

-Hang out in a public place -- perhaps the park or a coffee bar -- and talk to people. Hear their stories. Ask questions. Do more listening than talking.

-Take a nature walk, but bring along a magnifying glass or loupe. A flower or leaf is a completely different experience seen close up.

-When you're going about your daily chores, change your routine or take a different route. Stay aware, rather than going on automatic pilot, and see what you discover.

-If you have a broken or outdated appliance, take it apart to see what's inside, what interesting shapes and textures you might find. If you're doing collage, you might even want to incorporate a few of the pieces!

-Get on the Internet and just follow links to see where they lead you.

-Spend some time without a schedule. Take off your watch. Spend a day or a week going where your heart leads you. Follow your eyes, your ears, your nose -- kind of like hyperlinking *without* the Internet. Be willing to go down a dead end and turn around.

-Explore using a different art form than usual. If you're a painter, photograph. If you're an actor, sketch. Write stories about your explorations. Experiment with sound and movement. Take an improvisation class. Get your hands in some clay.

-Visit museums, historic sites and even theme parks. You can pick up the feel of a particular location or period that you can use in your writing, acting, painting. As you walk through the pyramids at Giza in Egypt, or the Temple of Dendor at the Metropolitan Museum, you can imagine what it might have been like to live among these structures. In an ancient graveyard, speculate on who the people were and what their lives were like. At the natural history museum, picture yourself coming face to with a dinosaur. Browse the art museum and put yourself in Monet's gardens, at the ballet with Degas, or spending Sunday afternoon on the Isle of Grand Jatte with Seurat.

--When we're trying to create with a deadline, we can become stifled in our creativity. And there are times when we're simply bored with what we've been doing. Exploring is a great way to open up new avenues and bring a breath of fresh air to your work and your life.

*My every thought, word, and deed expresses my inner potential for greatness.


In my mind's eye I see myself surrounded with the light and power of greatness. I imagine this dynamic energy flowing through my mind, emotions, and physical body. I see myself thinking great thoughts, feeling great emotions, and doing great deeds. For a moment I imagine what my life would be like as I express my inner greatness in every thing I do. On my mental screen I see myself celebrating with my friends the greatness of life being expressed in all of us. I combine these images with joy and let them go, knowing that they will create the good things I am visualizing and thinking.

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