Since writing about how seeing art can help people with mental health problems last week, it's perhaps time to look at the path of healing through art in a more general scope. Before scientific explanations, holistic healing was said to appeal to the psyche, the soma, and the spirit. This triple headed approach to health enabled people to work through their illnesses on multiple levels. Of course, in modern medicine, a lot more care is taken to understand the dynamics of healing however the evidence for the effectiveness of holistic therapies is continual. The body does indeed carry the feelings, thoughts, and emotions as chemical signals. Sub-conscious feelings and thoughts are there too. Connecting to the sub-conscious allows us to express what is previously unknown to us about ourselves.
Art as a therapy does this job extremely well. By expressing ourselves in a creative way, we open up a channel to our subconscious to guide us in our actions. By then observing our actions, we can determine what the sub-conscious is presenting. Dance and Movement Psychotherapy for example is a specific type of therapy that uses our gestures and movements to express our inner and hidden thoughts. By loosening up and letting go, letting the body do the work and releasing the grip of conscious control, the body will begin to function as a tool of the sub-conscious.
The body is a store-room of feelings that we can keep inside. The more unprocessed and unexpressed feelings and thoughts we have, the more ill we potentially can get. By using expressive therapies we can actually help to clear out the backlog that perhaps is building up through life. Especially in a busy lifestyle, finding time to process everything might not be easy. Doing things like specific therapies designed for sub-conscious expression can help us significantly. The mental health benefits of exercise are also well documented, from a merely physical point of view.
How do we switch off the conscious mind when creating? Whether it's writing or dancing or something in between, we have to stop listening to the inner voices and thoughts which continually judge our potential actions. We have to learn to have faith in our natural ability to act without thinking, and if it's within a safe environment then there's nothing to stop us. The more we think and analyse, the less free our expression becomes. It might be that what first comes into our mind is not pleasant and perhaps we feel that we dare not express such things, but in a safe creative environment we can express anything we like and we ought to.
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