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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ways to Wholeness

With my physical move last summer to a new home, I continue to seek out new professional services closer to home.  

This week, I am visiting a potential family doctor for myself.  I have noticed that as I age, I am equally concerned about a doctor's attitude toward wholeness and complimentary approaches to health and wellness as well as their background and training with more-established Western medicine and protocol.  As I move more deeply into expressive art as a path to wellness, I am even more convinced of the effectiveness of choosing a wholistic approach to my time on this earth.  I know that some of you are coming to believe in this as well.

One of my mentors in the expressive arts whose books I have read and with whom I most resonate is Shaun McNiff.  In his book Art Heals, How Creativity Cures the Soul, he writes about some of his earlier work in the 70s with residents in a mental health facility.  In summarizing his time there, the residents actually became his expressive arts teachers and he learned, "… art can heal in our lives through the release of emotions, the making of bridges to vital experiences, and the actualization of our creative potential." (p. 51)

Good medical care provides a foundation for our overall wellness.  We must tend to physical symptoms demanding attention.  At the same time, what if in addition to the prescribed medications we also prescribed ourselves times of expression that help us to release whatever emotions surround our soul and, with time, begin to build a bridge to insight about life choices, changes of attitude, etc.  This expression can include visual art, clay, sculpture, knitting, gardening, animals, weaving, photography, poetry, movement, etc.  I believe this level of creative self-care alongside someone trained to help you process the emotions and thoughts that arise invites  room for channeling all of that insight into a more peaceful, less stressful existence that allows our physical self more space in which to heal.   And, perhaps, might that depth of wellness help prevent some potential physical ailments related to stress and busyness?  More and more hospitals and medical settings are tending to their environments and programs with the addition of art spaces and studios, meditation gardens, natural elements, staff artists to meet with patients and clients, etc.   I am very excited to see these changes.

Recently, AWBA provided a bridge-building experience with the support of horses.  This program of equine-assisted learning invited participants to explore some of their innermost feelings regarding their journey as they move from a life they expected to live to the new land in which they find themselves.  Themes around control, flexibility, listening to one's inner wisdom, etc. quickly rose to the surface.  And, most importantly, it was a fun day.   Here are a few pictures,

AWBA will continue to explore these opportunities through our collective of artists and spiritual directors.  I am excited about the upcoming experience of Touch Drawing on June 2.  You may recall that we chose to open this program to those in a season of transition regardless of the circumstances that have brought them to this time in their life.  Loss of a loved one, retirement, job change, divorce, parenting struggles, chronic diagnosis, issues associated with aging, and so many other life changes can open the door for stress, disorientation, grief, etc. as we navigate those in-between places of transition.   Our souls long for a sense of hope, peace, and a sense of connection on that journey.   It is AWBA's desire to continue to be one of those resources for you.

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