We all have mental maps of the world. We decided how the world is and we laid down maps in our nervous system when we were very young. These maps and rules are perfect and beautiful because they helped us to survive. All of your own maps, your stories and ways of viewing the world are valid. And yet there are infinitely more maps, stories and ways of looking at things than the few that you are used to. There are other ways of moving in the world, living in the world. Other ways of being. You really are free – and safe – to stretch out and look around.
Art and energy work are two ways you can slip into open, uncharted territory. Both Expressive Arts and Intuitive Counseling engage the physical sensations of the body and the nervous system. Both allow us to move into the nonverbal, nonlinear, dream-like intelligence of images, physical sensation and frequency. They both work to untangle our preverbal confusions, and literally help us integrate new ways of being in our minds and bodies. We can create new pathways. New maps. And even more wonderfully, both art and energy help us to see that we are the explorers, not the maps themselves!
Because art is non-verbal, it’s sneaky! It sidesteps all of the rules and linear logic of our minds. It allows ALL of the parts of ourselves to speak , rather than just what the editing mind will let through. (We all have many kinds of intelligences that can be accessed through non-verbal, non-linear, body-direct ways. For example, Howard Gardner’s 8 types of intelligences include visual-spatial, kinesthetic, mathematic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic and linguistic.) So again, art allows us to access parts of ourselves we don’t usually let through the censoring mind. Same with the images and energy patterns of the body. That information arises in the form of frequencies directly from the body. And as for art – please don’t freak out at the word “art!” Yes, I certainly have trainingAnd expressive arts therapy, and I love to use art processes. But when I talk about the art as I use it in sessions with you, I’m talking about things as simple as making a stick figure drawing, or jotting words on the paper. Sometimes if it seems appropriate I’ll offer you the use of the sand tray, which is literally just placing objects that grab your attention in a box of sand! (Trust me, it’s very helpful! And totally calming and unraveling for the nervous system.) If you happen to be a person who has an affinity for expressing through art, it might happen that we spontaneously create a ritual that’s helpful for you in embracing, releasing, claiming – whatever the intention is. But again, it will be simple. It might involve writing some words, standing up and saying them, lighting a candle, arranging some objects in the sand tray. We’re talking super simple, folks! And truly, the “art” emerges out of the individual person. If it’s not of interest to you, it won’t come get you! I promise!
And on another note: a word about why people are so freaking scared of art! Humans have always made art. They always make things special. From paintings on cave walls, to special beads on their deerskin clothing, to ceremonies with special garments, drumming, singing. music of all kinds. Humans love to create. That’s all that art is. It’s a way to make things special and a way to express. Arranging flowers is art. Decorating is art. Sadly in our modern times, art has been relegated to what is marketable and what fits into predefined parameters of what constitutes art. So if it doesn’t look a certain way, we don’t believe that it’s art. It IS art. Your child’s scribble on the fridge IS art. YOUR scribble on the fridge is Art. Moreover, your special arrangement of the magnets on the fridge is Art! So sadly, art is hardly included in school anymore, and when it is, the children are taught to make their people look a certain way, make their landscapes look a certain way, and use certain colors, and basically to make their expressions conform to the “acceptable.” All of us have been criticized at one time or another for our expressions. It’s crushing to have an authentic expression out of your heart and curiosity and perceptions be laughed at, put down, told is “wrong.” No wonder so many people feel such anxiety at the word art, or if you ask them to do something with art materials.
So for yourself, please consider letting go of the word art, I’m just allowing yourself to express whatever you feel in anyway that feels good! Get into your gardening, your arrangement of flowerpots, special design you work into your piecrust, or the special stenciling you put on your motorcycle! But maybe also consider that those “art materials” are for YOU TOO. You are a human, and so you are creator. You express. You can’t get away from it (every time we speak we are literally improvising with language!) Let go of the word “art” if you need to. Let the “artists” do their thang. But meanwhile, give yourself the freedom to express, make special and create anyway you darn well like! And between you and me – no matter what your painting (or car, or knitting, or pumpkin or Christmas tree) might look like, it’s human ART. And not only do you have a right to it, it’s built in to your being.