I have just read an article, Healing Trauma by Nanice Ellis, which explained so clearly the background to something I have always believed, and frequently put into practice. That is, art, of any form, can be powerful medicine.
Nanice describes how to heal trauma from a karmic perspective, but does not specifically advocate art as a form of therapy. So let me explain myself more clearly.
Firstly, I think that, no matter what your spiritual belief system is, the main point in Nanice’s article about healing trauma holds true. Repressing emotional wounds, whether by medication, work, social activities, addictions, or any other distractions is simply masking the symptom, not healing the cause of the pain.
I am not saying that one should not take anti-depressants, for example, to help one deal with life. But at the same time, if one avoids getting the necessary emotional help to address whatever issues are at root cause of the problem, the emotional issues will remain unaddressed.
Nanice says: “When an unhealed issue is re-activated, don’t just push it down – take the time to finally heal it. This means creating intentional space to feel your emotions and allow the issue to process through to Healing. Once you allow yourself to fully experience these emotions for the first time, without resistance, you will innately know what path to healing is right for you.”
Nanice explains how even just thinking about an old hurt or trauma can re-activate the pain for us, as if we are actually living through it again. She says this is when we often push the issue down, rather than face it and take the time to heal it. Further, she goes on to say the these pains will manifest as physical problems. This echoes what the renowned medical intuitive and spiritualist, Caroline Myss has researched and written about extensively.
So where does art and creativity come into it?
Painting and writing are powerful tools of self-expression. I think most forms of creative expression can be, but painting and writing are the ones I am most familiar with, so I use them as my example.
One way, I believe, to create an intentional space to feel your emotions and process the issue is by creating a painting about it. Another is to write a story. For yourself. The aim is not to produce a work of art or piece of writing for anyone else, but rather to use it as a vehicle to process your emotions and resolve the pain. That is, heal yourself through making art.
My painting the truth will set you free was the output of such a healing process. Each animal in the picture represents a person or emotion relating to an intensely painful issue that I wanted to release. By consciously choosing images and colours that I associated with these issues, I was forced to face them – the people, the events and the emotions – as I painted. By the end of the painting, I had clarity about the situation and a sense of peace. So much so, that I was able to create a second painting, with the same people represented, only this time the painting was about letting go.
So, the next time an old hurt, or a current one, upsets you, perhaps, instead of burying yourself in a book, or escaping with a glass of wine, or seeing what everyone else is up to on Facebook, you could find something creative to help you express, and clear, your emotions.