It’s funny the number of conversations I’ve had with people recently about stress, health, finding a balance in life and all the ways we try to offset the potential negative effects, the coping mechanisms we put in place to try and make our lives rich and livable.
Some friends and colleagues find their zone in running or exercising, for others it’s yoga or Pilates. In speaking with my sis, meditation came up. She’s gotten to the point where she can zone out and meditate in public places, even on a plane. And I thought “How cool is that! I should try that!” Now for anyone who knows me (and can stop laughing at me long enough to keep reading), there are still waters in me somewhere, however they tend to conflict with my Tigger like bouncing. Combine that with two very energetic, rambunctious, boys under age 8, a full time teaching career, which I love, my dogs, my art, my….fitting in time to just sit and train my mind to slow down and relax, well, hmm. Sure, you can lecture me all you want on the whole “You have to make the time” and so on, but there’s the reality that rears its time consuming, “Would you like a shower or meditate today?” ugly head.
For me, it came to a point where two different doctors told me that I had two different masses growing, which in essence would kill me in one of two ways, neither of which was going to be pretty, or treatable. And breathe. And breathe again. And panic. And cry. And oh shit (add more expletives-very creative ones). And breathe. How does one go through testing, still be a parent, try to keep a household running and a career going, all the while there is a gigantic very ugly elephant (not the cute pink candy box kind) hovering over you in the corner? Then, came the conversations about meditation. Then, came the epiphany.
While I may seem to be organized chaos in motion, bouncing all over the place, there are very deep, very still waters inside me. In my own way, I do mediate. I do zone out and lose focus on everything else, allowing a sense of calm connectivity and peace wash over me, letting the “noise” from without go. For me, my therapy, my healing, my rescue comes when I paint.
Art is therapy. The creative process is therapeutic. It calms, it heals, it allows you to channel emotions, frustrations, fears, anger, all those things that we can’t look at face on. It’s interesting because since I have started painting, I have tried to explain to people that a good painting session is when I get into the “zone”, where I don’t think, I just do, I just am and it all flows. People have asked multiple times, “What were you thinking when you painted this? What was your plan? Your process?” The explanation that I wasn’t thinking anything, that it just came, seemed somehow insufficient and I have had a hard time trying to put to words the channelling process that just spontaneously occurs on occasion. When the spirit moves me, for lack of a better phrasing, the directions this takes me are sometimes never where I intended to go but somehow my spirit or soul knows what I need more than I do in that moment and we just go there.
Using art as therapy isn’t a new thing, but I do belive that it is something that should be promoted more. Instinctively, I have encouraged and nudged some of my students in this direction. When they’ve been angry or troubled, I’ve actually given them the canvas and paint and said go put it all on there. Use your brushed, your fingers, scratch, slash, blend, smooth and most of all PLAY. The results have been phenomenal as you can actually see someone else’s soul on the canvas-their moment in time where it all came to being, right there, in front of you. It is breathtaking.
Does it have to be paint? Nope. I know people who lose themselves in clay, in the movement of the wheel-in wood, the grains, the stains, the textures-in dough, the kneading, shaping, rising. It’s all the rhythm, the movement, the passion, the emotion and the soul. The moment where you can let go of everything and allow the immediate to immerse you and take over. The end result isn’t as important as the process. Whether you like it or hate it when you are done, it is what it is.
So go forth, let you inner child out and the calm peaceful vibes in. It’s therapeutic and good for the soul, yes, but more importantly it can be just plain fun.
Some examples of “Hmm…and where di this come from?”. Enjoy.