by Heidi Fassnacht
While I was living at a hermitage in Colorado, I picked a book out of the community’s library for something to read. It turned out to be Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss. I was just beginning on my journey into the metaphysical and wasn’t familiar with Myss, or apparently with myself. I remember reading a paragraph where she discussed intuition. She said something along the lines of “Intuition is that funny feeling you get when….” “Funny feeling? That’s intuition?” I thought, dismayed, “I’ve been ignoring that my whole life!”
Sad to say, it is not that uncommon for people to be disconnected from the signals their inner wisdom sends them through physical sensations, feelings, and emotions. How many times have you thought you were doing just fine, yet your shoulders were so tense they were up under your ears?
Science is rediscovering the connection between the mind and the body, and the powerful effect that thoughts and emotions can have on physical health. Negative thoughts and uncomfortable emotions, through their effect on our biology, lead to depressed immune function. Similarly, positive thoughts and pleasurable emotions lead to increased immune function. Over time, the stress caused by negative thoughts and emotions can contribute to disease.
While we may have heard the science, if we aren’t aware of the messages coming from inside us, or if we misunderstand them, we may not even know we are in a negative pattern. For many reasons, we choose, consciously or unconsciously, to ignore, suppress, justify, or deny our negative emotions. When we turn towards our uncomfortable emotions rather than away from them, we create an opening, an opportunity to receive the messages being conveyed to us through our feelings, and to release the stress that comes from our thoughts or actions being out of alignment with our body’s inherent wisdom.
Expressive art provides us with tools to access and give form to what is going on inside of us, (how we truly feel vs. how we think we feel), reconnecting us with our inner landscape. Through the process of giving form to what is inside us, we gain new perspective, and can move to transform our perceptions. This change empowers us to consciously choose our emotional response to the circumstance of our lives, and to bring our thoughts and actions back into alignment with our inner wisdom.
Expressive art engages us in the process of creative expression using visual art, movement, sound, writing, theater, or some combination of these. Activities focus on moving us from our logical and analytical mind, to our intuitive, creative centers. Like any other path, expressive art is a practice. With time, patience, and a sense of adventure, we can connect with ourselves on a very deep level, and transform our lives.
This article was based on the information presented in Art & Healing, by Barbara Ganim, Three Rivers Press, NY, 1999.
Originally trained as a geologist and hydrologist, Heidi was deeply called in 2008 to pursue her own personal transformation. She immersed herself in the world of the metaphysical and the healing arts. She explored many paths including various shamanic traditions, breathwork, dance, yoga, energy healing, qi gong, and more. Reconnecting in 2009 with her love of creative expression, Heidi recently completed a professional development training in the expressive and creative arts for self-discovery, healing, and personal transformation. She will lead two series of classes on Expressive and Creative Arts in the next few months. If you would like to find out more, we suggest you attend one of the free introductory talks she will give on February 21, February 28 or March 14.
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