This online magazine From The Bower is a space to celebrate the diversity of modalities of engaging people in arts, health and wellbeing. Northern Rivers Arts Health & Wellbeing (NRAHW) was born from an inspiration to connect art therapists, arts workers, community organisations, the public health system, medical practitioners and health specialists. This network is a place for dialogue, skill sharing, collaborating and professional development of the industry in our region. From the Bower is a continuation of this journey through the connections and working partnerships that were born in NRAHW. It has the same principles and values, just a new and fresh face. 🙂
I love the community of art therapists, community artists, community workers and progressive doctors, who all use various methodologies, to guide or facilitate people through creative ways of processing and expression. But I’ve been wondering how many of us engage in our own creative processes. I’m talking about caring for the carers. How many of us walk the talk so to speak?
In a world bombarded with headlines and quick fixes, our health and wellbeing seems to have fallen behind in our daily list of priorities.
Using a daily ritual of arts practice provides a space for our mind, body and soul to express, create and play. It is through these ways of being that our subconscious minds find the space to process and make sense of the world and of ourselves.
The art of arts therapy intrigues me and how people incorporate it into daily life as part of their lifestyle. Think about how you might incorporate an arts practice into your daily routine or incorporate tools from your toolbox. For example, using doodling to inspire creative problem solving, so that when faced with a problem you can allow yourself some time to doodle and draw to still the mind and provide space for solutions to appear.
At home, we can incorporate play with family members – like playing music or games after dinner rather than being overstimulated into submission by electronic media.
Our nature time, aligning our energy with nature, forest bathing, sitting with the elements, acknowledging the seasons, gardening, growing food, creative cooking, cooking with the harvests from your garden, it’s all an art, it’s a therapy. There is therapy through the process, there is wellbeing through the nutrition, and wellbeing for the body and mind as a whole.
The art of arts therapy is about finding therapy in creative therapeutic outcomes through various creative models, a range of creative methodologies. I’m interested in incorporating creative play into our relationships, providing gentle spaces for subconscious processing.
As art therapists, this is what we do – we provide spaces, safe places for people to explore themselves. Some of us guide, some of us facilitate, some of us inspire. and some of us use fine tuned scientific methodologies, but we all have a common aim – to provide avenues for people to engage in subconscious processing. Whether intentional or consequential, the physical acts of drawing or creating with the hands quietens the mind and provides space for processing.
I’m interested in engaging a culture of practitioners and people in daily arts practices as part of their normal lifestyle. A culture of people providing self care and accessible avenues for self healing and self development, reflection, realisation and revelation. These places are useful to iron out bumps when in crisis but can also be used used to prevent crisis.
You could think of it as doing your homework, being prepared for the next day. Very exciting. As people who work in or are interested in Arts Health & Wellbeing, I realise I am of course speaking to the converted. And it’s great to be amongst you all!
I would like to invite readers to write about their use of the arts to maintain wellbeing and work life balance. Share what you do. What are your practices? What are the benefits or challenges?
I would also like to present to you a simple exercise.
We are always in need of processing time and freedom to express ourselves, no matter how experienced and practiced we may be at supporting others on their journeys. In this article I present an exercise for all who are inspired to give it a go.
A daily ritual of mark making and colour.
The only guidelines are that you sit down with the intention of doing a little drawing.
First of all, choose your colours, run your fingers over your pencils or pens and choose a colour. Which ever appeals to you or you are drawn to.
Breathe, notice in your body how you are feeling. Just observe any tension being held anywhere. Exhale. Choose a colour, then turn to your paper. Draw or make marks. You may notice an emotion, or lack of, you may be happy with your colour choice, or perhaps it is too dark.
Breathe, choose another colour. Breath, make marks on the paper, this is your homework. Do it daily for three weeks. You may like to journal or write on your art or on the back of the paper. You may like to write with your non dominant hand to allow some subconscious thoughts to rise to the surface.
This process is gentle but can be quite powerful. It is magnificent in its simplicity.
I like to do it every evening. Choose a time that suits you. All you have to do it sit with paper and colours, pens, pencils, pastels, what ever you like.
Choose a colour. It’s the little choices in life. choose a colour that jumps out at you, or you are attracted to, or perhaps a colour which reflects your mood.
When you face your paper, you may choose to draw, or doodle, or just start shading the page. Your mark making is your own and try to allow your hand to have some say in the matter. You can fill the page with little circles if you like. Just permit yourself the time to play, and breathe, and be present in your body. Enjoy this time for yourself. Do this for yourself, not just when you need it but because you deserve it!
Your challenge is 15 mins a day for three weeks.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this blog. Looking forward to reading some of your thoughts and updates on what you are up to.