Friday, 5 February 2010

Freedom of expression that touches the heart

I feel that Art Therapy is an incredible tool for getting to the heart of an issue and helping to bring it out into the open in a visual form to be reflected on, processed and healed.

Not that many people know however what Art Therapy is or why it is so powerful, so i shall explain a little from my persepective. Making art in itself allows you freedom of expression and encourages you to let go of all ideas of what it is "supposed to be" and instead allows what wants to be. It allows you to express yourself in ways that you couldn't with words. It is a channel of communication that is closest to the authentic truth of who you are and what you might want to share about yourself and the world. The art work is a visual story of deep emotions, feelings and what is closest to your heart. By bringing it into visual representation and reflecting on it with a therapist it can be worked with, processed and ultimately used to help you to heal.

There is no need to be an artist to benefit from working with images or to use art as healing or for self-development. The techniques are varied but all work by helping to access our subconscious mind beyond the conscious and beyond verbal language. The subconscious mind holds our beliefs, habits, fears & emotions and this practically controls what we think, and how we act, which basically produces the quality of our lives and our reality. These beliefs, habits etc developed from the events and experiences in our lives. For example a man with phobia for flying did not ‘decide’ to have that phobia, something triggered that, such as a really bad flight experience. The subconscious mind is so powerful that it will manifest whatever you believe in, which makes the subconscious mind the seat of our power or disempowerment. This is exactly why even though we know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, we don’t do it. It’s because our subconscious mind is stopping us. That’s why all your thinking, analysis, reasoning etc through your conscious mind has little impact on the final actions we take. Our minds are usually filled with a running commentary of self-talk which inevitably contain some self-limiting beliefs. But do we direct and guide that flow? If we hold negative or false beliefs, then the brain responds by generating images which resonate with that emotion-thought-belief vibration. The same holds true for positive beliefs. Which means that the power of images is in their uncanny ability to get to the core of what we really believe to see what is holding us back and to allow us to create an alternative, a reworking and a new way forward. We can bypass the conscious mind through image making (thus avoiding the filters) and implant a message, an idea into our subconscious.  

So to reiterate: Image work, or art as healing, is a means of taking hold of what can be an unconscious process and guiding it along a desired path, towards your consciously chosen objective. How does this work? All images carry a deep meaning that is specific to that individual. That image-meaning is formed from the moment the art work is made and awareness is the key to change.
You choose where to put your attention, and that summarizes the law of attraction: we get more of whatever we focus our attention upon.What stops us from pursuing our dreams? We can become stuck in negative patterns because of incorrect beliefs, the foundation of which may date back to early childhood. Image work helps us gain awareness of our conditioned beliefs, which is the beginning of change.

Another roadblock to change is fear. Using the visionary healing art of our images creates a safe environment within which to experience a different reality. Allowing the hand to draw an image of our fear is a powerful means to uncover the truth as well as a method for integrating the personality and achieving ever greater wholeness, self-acceptance and love.
Studies show that a vividly imagined experience is indistinguishable to the brain from the actual experience. That’s why mental rehearsal, or image work, is a highly effective way to learn new behaviors and is used by many performers and athletes as vital aspect of training. The same concept is also effective for unlearning negative habits, old reactions, or inappropriate or limiting beliefs that stop you from moving toward the life you really want.

Personally I use art therapy techniques to examine life situations that I want to change, spontaneous drawing in combination with journaling and image dialog, for example can help by uncovering resistance or gaining awareness of limiting beliefs. I also use image work to help focus my goals and to process sessions with my clients.  I therefore use art to process, to express, to think, to connect, to calm, as a space where relationships and responsibilities can be seen and felt and for so much more.

Art therapy (and shamanic healing) can be wholly transforming. Take a chance and try it yourself.

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