Expressive Art and the HeART Scan

The beauty and concept of art surrounds us on a daily basis.

Mother Earth, the greatest artist of all, fills our hearts and souls with her mountains, forests, lakes, and sunsets. But sometimes, life seems so busy we hardly have time to notice the wonders around us. I invite you to allow the creative process to help you rediscover the importance of simple serenity. In his book, Flow, Mihaly Csikszentihalyi teaches us that the very nature of the creative act invokes and induces inner harmony. There is solace in creative endeavors. The end result is not important.  It is the process that becomes the healing balm.

Expressive art uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. 

You don’t need to be talented or an artist to receive the benefits.  The process is often more important than the product. Basically, just doing art in any form helps reconnect you to your intuition so that you can see, process, and heal your emotions and provides you with a deeper understanding of yourself.  Spontaneous art and writing offer a reflection of your inner world and brings buried emotions to the surface. When these feelings and beliefs are embraced, they can become erased. This is why I believe so strongly that art in any form can and will facilitate empowerment and self-discovery. Studies have proven that coloring, even as an adult has tremendous benefits.

Any form of creativity is a fabulous escape from the doldrums. I worked for a while with veterans at a VA hospital. Several of them took up needlepoint as a way to combat PTSD. It might seem strange to see strong, burly men cross-stitching or knitting but the effect was calming and therapeutic. The process is what creates change. Spontaneous art will reconnect you to your intuition and support self-awareness.

Expressive art therapy is a unique experience. 

It is based on using the medium of art as an instrument of change.  Rather than learning conventional techniques and modalities expressive therapy approaches the medium in a natural experiential way.  This process automatically creates a safe and non-threatening place thereby allowing you to shift your inner awareness and discover new emotions and presentation of yourself. 

The brain wave testing on artists shows that when they are looking at art or doing art, they run beta and delta waves. So, an artist naturally accesses the very deep unconscious that is usually only tapped during deep sleep. When you are doing any form of art you experience the consciousness that you reach beyond the frontal cortex, beyond the thinking mind of the cerebral cortex.

Art therapy taps that place where you are awake, but you are actually creating change and working with some of the deep recesses within your mind.

In other words, the process brings to light conflicts between thoughts and feelings. To remain healthy, we need to resolve the conflicts between our thoughts and feelings. By using imagery instead of words, we are able to access what is going on inside the body and mind. Split-brain psychology teaches us that the left-brain is our judgmental side. It analyzes and examines. This process often creates negative thought patterns, which lower the functions of the body, and throws them out of equilibrium. They create frustrating tenseness. As a result, staying stuck in the left-brain creates havoc with our immune system because of the emotions such as frustrations, fear, anger, and envy that are instigated.

The negative side of an issue is always easier to recognize than the positive. Sometime when we stay in our left-brain, we can alter the essence of an issue. Negative, painful thoughts and misconstrued perceptions ultimately cause illness, disease and addiction.

The right brain however deals with images. This in turn, is a means of emotional expression and liberation. Accessing right brain imagery is an internal form of communication. This is the most direct way to get in touch with painful and harmful emotions and eliminating them before they compromise one’s well-being. By going within and creating art, the right side of the brain can speak through the drawings and illuminate the truth of what is really bothering us. As we embrace the issue, the discontent begins to erase. The body begins to release and relax. Perceptions begin to change. 

Creating art is a means of watching yourself closely for self-defeating ways you respond to the world around you. 

Your artwork will speak to you louder than words. Pay attention to the colors you use, the shapes, the symbols and you will find a brand-new alphabet that brings clarity and understanding to your personal issues and growth.

Several years ago, while working in private practice as an art therapist, I created the HeART Scan. The HeART Scan is a voyage of discovery that allows your subconscious to speak volumes through the images you accidentally create. This exercise is a direct way to make contact with your inner self and find meanings unique to only you. Just let your hands draw without thought of the outcome. Let the piece flow and create itself. The important thing is to free yourself from thoughts and just flow with the color.

  • Avoid realism so you don’t have to think about what you’re drawing – just fill the paper with color and shapes.
  • Choose your colors with your non-dominant hand and your eyes closed.  This will allow you to choose colors without thinking.  You can open your eyes and use your dominant hand to create your HeART Scan.
  • Hang your finished picture in a place where you can look at it and study the different shapes and objects that you find. You will be surprised at what manifests.

Please experience a HeART Scan firsthand, in person with me at SoulTreat!

– Judith



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