Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Importance of Art to Our Mental Health

After a lovely peaceful week in the woods I was anxious to get back to my computer and my ecourse-Sublime. I have really enjoyed the blending of my work as a therapist and the artistic expression of the ecourse. I now realize that although I have always done art I want to give it a greater presence in my daily life. Art is therapeutic. It is as simple as that. When we do art we take the time to be present in a way that we often don't in our busy lives. We take the time to pick the materials and colours we want to use. We take the time to think about what we want to do. We carefully set up our environments to accommodate the mess or quiet that we will need to be free to create.

These are all very mindful acts. And mindfulness is essential to creating. We have to pay attention to what we are doing. We have to be in the moment of the creation. We can ponder while we work which serves to feed our creativity. It also provides an opportunity to process. We might only be processing our day or we might be processing our lifetime. Regardless the one thing that we don't do enough is process. We continue to take in new information in the information age without editing much of what comes at us. So processing is more important then ever these days. Processing simply means that we have some reflective time. We reflect on what is important to know or remember or attend to and what is junk that needs to be filtered out. We need to do this in order to maintain our mental health.

The most essential thing for good mental health is to get to know ourselves. We can do this through art. When we take the time to create we get to hear our inner chatter. This chatter can tell us a lot about ourselves. Normally our lives are so noisy that we don't hear this chatter but it is always there. So being mindful, processing and reflecting while we are creating are ways to keep us in touch with this inner monologue. Knowing what we say to ourselves on a daily basis is important to being able to add or delete what we want. Like in our art project we might want to add a bit more of this or get rid of that, in order to create the art we want. We can do the same with our inner voice. We can learn to add praise and stop negative self talk if we provide ourselves with the opportunity to hear it.

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