Art ‘as therapy’: Healing through creative expression

mywisdomfromatree

Exercising our creativity enhances the quality of our lives and nurtures overall well-being.  Creativity is an innate gift that every person has, which for some, may require some mentoring to activate. Creativity takes many forms.  Arts and crafts have long been the go to for art therapy. Any hobby or activity that allows for the creative process can be considered art therapy. Whether you like to paint, draw, craft, sew, woodwork, knit, scrapbook, play music, write, compose, cook or garden; your brain and overall health will reap the rewards of the creative process involved in them.

Studies have shown that art can reduce depression and anxiety, and improve cognitive functions by producing both new neural pathways and thicker, stronger dendrites. Exercising our creativity can ensure that we are less likely to develop cognitive impairment and memory problems as we age. Immersing ourselves in the creative process of art gives us a temporary time out from the body and mind’s focus on life’s stressors, ‘the unexpected’, past trauma and grief. Engaging in some form of ‘art as therapy’ regularly allows us to escape from our feelings of stress and pain; providing our body and minds the time and space we need to promote healing.

For me, other than creating decorative comforts for my own home, art had always been about producing a product to generate income. My family heritage of producing handwork for money has been a strong and compulsive influence throughout my life. In the past I spent many hours producing hand painted folk art pieces and marketing them at shows. These are a few of my handcrafted works. I recently crossed paths with the jug in the first image at an antiques shop.  When I first saw it, it looked familiar, and I wondered where I had seen it before.  Then I realized that it was one of my artistic reproductions which I had painted decades earlier.

birds jug farm animal lampRooster jug

I left the above type of income producing ‘handwork’ behind decades ago when it was no longer a good fit in my life, and went on to study nutrition and natural health to improve my health. My career focus then changed to helping people to improve their health through changes in diet, lifestyle and adding natural strategies.

Recently, after experiencing the loss of a friend to suicide and being thrown back into the grief process while still grieving the passing of my mother, I felt a strong need to return to the creative process to distract my mind’s focus. Accessing the ‘creative side of my brain’ had always helped me in times of stress in the past, and we all know that life’s stressors can add up at times and feel overwhelming. Over the years I had read a lot about how art was therapeutic so I made the decision that I would start painting ‘for therapy’. What I didn’t expect was the huge block I had getting started. In the past the motivation for painting, other than my home décor items, had always been to produce a product to generate income. My mindset had difficulty with the concept of painting for therapy, although I understood the health benefits. My psyche and perfectionist tendencies, influenced by my family heritage, was stuck in my old pattern of ‘produce for income’.  It took me quite some time spent meditating and praying to start letting go of my old mind set, and allow myself to spend time painting without focusing and seeing the end product as a marketable commodity. This was not an easy transition for me. I am still meditating and praying regularly to help reprogram my brain’s previous default setting about producing art solely as an income source.

In the interim, I have put my paint brushes to canvas.  Many years ago I had purchased a poster plaque at a thrift store (image below) with an inspirational message I liked and planned to someday reproduce.  I loved the ‘Advice from a Tree’ message but did not like the artistic presentation.  From an internet search I found that there were many longer versions of the poem, originally written by Ilan Shamir, which I felt tied into my ‘balanced lifestyle’ quest; and would more easily prompt me to make the ‘art as therapy’ transition that my brain needed. When I purchased the thrift store plaque below, the border, now dark brown, was a bright emerald green.

advice from a tree 2

My artistic interpretation of the ‘Advice from a Tree’ poster would be a better fit for my décor and draw more of the ‘wisdoms’ from the alternate versions of the poem I found on the internet. It would also reflect the beautiful tree view that I see daily through my living room window.

mytreeview

The real relevance of my art work version is the creative ‘therapeutic’ process and finished product ‘therapeutic’ messages. The creative process would provide me with the therapy that I needed while making the piece and the end product would provide me with ongoing visual prompts to help me in my quest to maintain a balanced lifestyle, be grateful and mindful.

The image below is my finished version which I decided to title as ‘Wisdom from a Tree’. It is a better decorative compliment to my family room and the messages and reminders of the creative process provide me with comfort, calm, motivation and inspiration. I am grateful for the healing it has brought me.

mywisdomfromatree

A ‘Wisdom from a Tree’ art therapy mindfulness workshop can help you in your quest to manage life’s stressors, process painful emotions like grief and feel more mindful, grateful and grounded. Join me for a therapeutic two day workshop to create your personal ‘Wisdom from a Tree’ unique artwork. I can lead you through the steps that I used to create my version and you can customize your creations by selecting your favourite ‘Advice from a Tree’ poem messages and other creative embellishments. This two day art therapy mindfulness workshop is suitable for beginners as well as providing advanced artists opportunity to further their creative expression. For more information visit my workshops and retreats page and scroll down to Holistic Menu item #12.

Art therapy journaling is form of therapy that involves a conversation with yourself. It is not about creating an art product, which may present you with a challenging learning curve from your past artistic production endeavors.  I have been using it, along with many other provided and self care strategies, to process grief while unpacking the emotional backpack of my mother’s passing and to help manage the multiple life stressors during that time, including the suicide of a friend. The picture below is the cover of my art therapy journal. It is pretty simple so do not be intimidated if you think you are not artistic. For some of the pages I transfer outlines from images with transfer paper to get me started, then start colouring inside and outside of the lines. Think of it as an adult colouring book meets self-help/self-talk journal, a winning combination.

artjournalcover

Whatever you are going through in your life, or feeling, consider some form of art ‘as therapy’ or art journaling therapy to help your body and mind to cope and heal. Take time to retreat from your busy life priorities, connections and obligations and give yourself the quality self care you need. I know my mother looking down from her bird’s eye view above, knows how hard I work and how many health gains I have made using a combination of provided supports and self care strategies to process grief, manage life’s stressors and take care of me. She would say in her loving, gentle way; ‘keep doing what you are doing, I have faith in you!’.

For more supports during your grief journey read my post.

Get started in your quest for greater resilience like that of a well rooted tree by reading Rick and Forrest Hanson’s book Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness.

The Create Your Life Book below is a great guide to get started on art therapy journaling for grief, stress management and healing.

                                                       

I love these Tombow Dual Brush Pens which allow me to sit and colour while relaxing without the mess of water and paint brushes.  It is a great transportable product to accompany your art therapy journal on your travels.

Tombow

Below is the mix media water colour sketchbook that I started with. I added a copy of my dutch birth certificate over the cover before adding my art work.

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Enjoy your healing art therapy experience!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca, elisabethlhines@gmail.com

 

MIRACLES: How to Implement a Placebo Cure, Radical Remission or Spontaneous Remission

Link

 miracletoolkit

When I drafted The Whole Person Well-being Equation years ago, I wrote about the significance of belief and the other ingredients of the well-being recipe mix (Pg 85).

The Well-being Recipe Mix

recipemix

Since that time research has provided so much more insight into the importance and power of belief to ‘change your health outcome’. The scientific evidence is fuel for your ‘belief and hope’; about what is possible in terms of recovery and a cure. The new research on ‘the placebo’ effect’ as a mind body healing strategy completes the understanding necessary for your body and mind to implement a placebo cure, radical remission or spontaneous remission. Get started today! The research proves that you have everything that you need.

“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work.

The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force

in getting well.”

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, Greek Physician (460BC-377BC)

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Update:  Recently, I watched Miracle from Heaven again with my family at my grand daughter’s request.  It was the second time for me.  It reminded me of how I started to ask God for miracles at the age of seven when my brother was diagnosed with ‘an incurable’ type of cancer. My mother would say ‘pray for a miracle’. I would obediently pray for a miracle, not really understanding how miracles work. Now, many years later, after bartering with God many times for miracles over the years and seeing so many people defy the odds of their diagnoses; I understand that miracles come in different ways, some times all at once in a spontaneous remission and other times in small deliveries in a radical remission. Either way you describe it, they are miracles. If you haven’t already watched this amazing film based on the true story of a little girl with an incurable disease, I promise you it will inspire and make you believe in miracles. Heaven is Real is another amazing video based on a true story about a miracle. Check them out below.

Have you asked and prayed for a miracle? Are you expecting it to arrive all at once or is it being delivered to you in multiple deliveries, like some of my Amazon purchases. My miracles of recovery from multiple diagnosed health challenges over the years have come in multiple deliveries over time, for which am abundantly grateful.  I continue to ask for and expect ‘more healing’. More is possible, ‘do not’ stop believing and asking and watching for the multiple deliveries that make up a miracle.

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Where do you start?

  • Understand what the placebo effect, spontaneous remission or radical remission are:
    • According to the dictionary the placebo effect is a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.
    • According to The Radical Remission Project, “a Radical Remission is a cancer remission that occurs either without conventional medical treatment, after conventional treatment has failed to work, or when conventional and complementary methods are used in conjunction to overcome a dire prognosis. We believe that, given enough documented cases to research, the cause(s) of Radical Remission can be uncovered.”
    • A spontaneous remission is an unexpected improvement or cure from a disease that usually progresses. These terms are commonly used for unexpected transient or final improvements in cancer.
  • Become informed about the placebo effect, radical remission and spontaneous remission research.
      • Dr. Lissa Rankin has done an incredible job in her video segment, The Placebo Effect:  How to Use Your Mind-Body Connection to Heal. This is a  must view to understand the research so that your brain can be updated about what is ‘scientifically’ possible.

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      • The Genie in Your Genes, Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention, Chapter 6 Belief Therapy by Dawson Church.

 

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      • Understand the science behind the power of believing and using it as ‘believe/belief therapy’ in The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton.

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    • Understand the power of belief when used in visualization.
    • Understand the external environmental influences that interfere with the epigenetic health cycle. These can be found in The Genie in Your Genes, Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention by Dawson Church.
    • Understand the research behind spontaneous remissions and the placebo.
    • Immunity over inability: The spontaneous regression of cancer
    • The Spontaneous Remission Project, put together by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, collected over 3,500 case studies published in medical literature about people who experienced spontaneous remissions from seemingly “incurable diseases.”
    • Understand how to repair your epigenome regardless of whether you have genetic predispositions to conditions and diseases. Epigenome is the complete description of all the chemical modifications to DNA and histone proteins that regulate the expression of genes within the genome.
    • The Radical Remission Project is a database of cancer remissions that occurs either without conventional medical treatment, after conventional treatment has failed to work, or when conventional and complementary methods are used in conjunction to overcome a dire prognosis.

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Practice self-help:

  • According to the Harvard Men’s Health Watch article The Power of the Placebo Effect, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; you can ‘Give yourself a placebo’.
    • “Practicing self-help methods is one way. Engaging in the ritual of healthy living — eating right, exercising, yoga, quality social time, meditating — probably provides some of the key ingredients of a placebo effect,” says Kaptchuk.
  • Relaxation is a key required ingredient in the placebo cure cycle. This gives your body the required rest time to promote balance and repair.
  • From The Genie in Your Genes, Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention by Dawson Church; belief, nurturing, energy medicine, visualization, energy psychology, heart coherence, spirituality, meditation, attitude, prayer and altruism are a part of the epigenetic health cycle. The addition of these to your daily life will promote high DHEA levels which are adaptive, contributing to gene repair. Chronic stress produces chronic cortisol which is maladaptive and prevents gene repair.  Look for more strategies to support your epigenetic health cycle in The Whole Person Well-being Equation below.

You can find a diverse selection of self-help therapies and tools (Chapter 7), including customized visualizations to correct faulty immunosurveillance, immunoassessment and immunoresponse (Chapter 7, page 147) in The Whole Person Well-being Equation.

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The holistic strategies make up my ‘coach in a book’ and provide you with instructions on how to use the ‘radical cure’ toolkit tools to promote understanding, belief and relaxation; prompting your body to ‘give yourself a placebo effect, radical or spontaneous remission’. The book also contains ‘doubt busting’ supports and resources (page 92).

Get started today on implementing your placebo cure or radical remission.  As Hippocrates indicated, you have the power within you, you just need some help!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P. Holistic Wellness Practitioner, elisabethlhines@gmail.com

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