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There are many instances of art acting as a means of enabling people back to health. This healing aspect of creativity is, I believe, due to the fact that we are liberated from the restrictions of the world in the process of creativity and because artworks are in a sense the residue of the experience of spiritual and expanded consciousness.
There are numerous clinical studies which show the effective of art therapy. For example, a number or art therapists have studied the affect of art therapy on people who have experienced loss. "Art therapists consistently observe the power and potential of art to help identify, cope with, and heal the pain experienced during the grief process..." (Hill, M.A.)
However, the healing process in creativity can best be explained by the deeper meaning of spontaneity.
Nachmanovitch asks the important question: "How does one learn improvisation?" The answer to this question is similar to the Zen idea of "not-doing." In other words, spontaneity and improvisation are natural occurrences once obstructions, fears and blockages are removed. One cannot do "something" to become spontaneous; rather one simply has to "be" without any false and illusionary restrictions. In Eastern thinking, such as Zen Buddhism, we therefore find that the great things can be achieved through non-action or by not allowing anything to obstruct the natural self from expressing itself.
The above relates to healing and health as most ailments, both physical and psychological, are a result of "blockages" in the creative human being. The practice of crafts and art can therefore help to remove these obstructions and blockages and return us to normal good health.
As Nachmanovitch states; "Spontaneous creation comes from our deepest being and is immaculately and originally ourselves." (Nachmanovitch, 1990, p.10)
In creative artworks there are also vibrational energies which emanate from the color and the materials used, which awaken us to what is beyond the physical world. This relates to the crystal pendants with which I work and their healing qualities.
Creativity and art as a healing process also teaches us that the idea of the self is not limited by the common perception of a subjective ego or " I"; but that it relates to a more expansive and profound self that is directly linked to spiritual conceptions. I have also experienced the healing way of creativity in my own life and work.
In conclusion, the creative process is closely aligned to spiritual awareness and awakening. This aspect can also be related to the Taoist and Zen approach to the idea of true human nature. This view looks beyond the conventional idea of the human nature, to the deeper spiritual nature that makes up our real identity.
This is similar to Michelangelo's idea of Intelleto or beauty as a faculty of visionary intelligence, (Nachmanovitch, 1990, p.10) What Michelangelo was attempting to reveal through his sculpture was the true nature of the human self - which is the self that exists beyond opposites and dualisms and which transcends logic and reason.
In Art theory the creative process has also been shown to have great healing potential. If one considers the understanding of spontaneity and "creative play" then one can understand how creativity helps to remove the barriers and obstructions that cause illness and disease in the human psyche and body.
Finally, it has also been my experience that creativity is a process that has to be continually practiced and worked at. One has to continually remind oneself of the transcendent potential of art and creativity, as it is often easy to slip back into a habitual and mundane way of experiencing the world. At the same time creative practice should never lose it sense of spontaneity and improvisation and should never become subject to formalized rules and laws. It is through the continually "play" at being creative that we are able to perceive the world as it really is and experience the healing expansiveness and wonder of life.
Hill M.A. Healing grief through art: art therapy bereavement group workshops. Retrieved 8 September, 2006, from Malinda Ann, M.A http://www.drawntogether.com/healing.htm
Nachmanovitch, S. (1990) Free play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
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