Excerpt from Healing With the Arts: A 12-Week Program to Heal Yourself and Your Community, by Michael Samuels, MD, and Mary Rockwood Lane, RN, PhD

For many people, taking care of themselves is a crucial step in healing their pain. However, this can be hard to do sometimes—even when the decision to make yourself the focus of your healing process is so critical. This is especially true for people who care for everyone around them. Debra, a nurse, felt selfish when she made her art. She was so used to taking care of others that when she dedicated time to herself, she felt guilty. When she developed breast cancer, Debra realized that she deserved to have others take care of her; more important, she needed to finally take care of herself. For her healing process she created a piece of art with the internationally renowned sculptor Christiane Corbat. Christiane made plaster casts of the hands of each of the people taking care of her. Each person put a message of love in the plaster palms. Debra cried every time she read the messages. She realized that she deserved the wonderful care her friends, family, and caregivers were giving her. A crucial part of her art was accepting that she, the usual caregiver, needed and wanted the care.

Making art to heal is about finding an opportunity for you to do exactly what you want and need for yourself so that you can be whole. It is about you healing your life. Make yourself a priority—because you deserve it. When you care for yourself, you can give more to your family, children, friends, coworkers, community, and the environment.

One essential part of the healing process is giving yourself the time and space to create.

Step One: Make Time

In an increasingly fast-paced, efficient world, time can be the most precious resource you have. Giving yourself time is the most useful healing tool. By giving yourself attention, you listen to and learn about yourself.

We recommend creating a routine around each week’s material. Make these moments your own. Create art every day or every week, depending on your schedule— just make sure your time is free of distractions. In our classes, there are students who get so excited that they make art for hours, and there also are those who fit it in when they can. Don’t worry if you miss days. Remember, this is for you to heal and change your life. It’s not a burden, an assignment, or something you have to do. It is joy and selfdiscovery. It is full of life.

At first, you may need to experiment with the particular day of the week or the hour of the day. Figure out whether you prefer mornings or evenings, until you find your rhythm and pace. The simplest way is probably the best. It will grow from there. Consistency will become important once you find the best routine. This work is your gift to you. You’re doing it to be healthy and feel alive, full, and creative. Value yourself enough to do it. Make this simple act as important as anything else you do in life. As we said in the introduction, you do not need to complete the process in exactly twelve weeks. If you skip weeks and then do a lot of art making, that is fine, too. As long as you complete your Medicine Art and your final project, this program will work for you.

Step Two: Make Sacred Space

The next thing to do is create a physical studio that reflects your wonderful energy. It can be any kind of place or space—between the covers of your journal, the sanctuary of your bed and bedroom, a corner of the kitchen, attic, backyard shed, or garage worktable.

What is sacred space? If you were to walk on a road and find a rock, it might be an impediment that you move aside with annoyance. If you are a devout Buddhist and you learned that this was the rock that Buddha had sat on for his vision, it would be the most sacred place—a place to go to for solace or escape, full of healing energy and significance. Each person’s sacred space is their own and is deeply tied to personal meaning, their own story, and what they believe in.

Sacred space is crucial in the twelve-week process. In each class we lead, all artwork is done after intentionally making sacred space. We both do different things. Michael uses prayer, incorporating sage and medicine wheels before guided imagery and art making. Mary does guided imagery, prayer, and a short art exercise with music and candles. But we never do anything in ordinary space; we work in a sacred arthealing space.

Make a space that feels different to you from your ordinary spaces. Play soft music and put candles, aromas, and objects you love in this place. Create a personal and loving boundary around yourself for privacy. It’s your sacred space—your own healing temple. We guarantee that this new sacred space and time will spark memories. Images will emerge. In ordinary life you never are focused enough to be still or go inward enough to be truly creative. Intense focus and concentration create the physiology of healing and help the immune system function at its best.

 

 
Healing With the Arts: A 12-Week Program to Heal Yourself and Your Community

Healing With the Arts: A 12-Week Program to Heal Yourself and Your Community

Have you ever painted a mural with your neighbors to renew your community? Sang a song to uplift your mood? Danced with your children to bring the family together? Each of these acts has the power to heal your body and your community.

Through art projects—including visual arts, dance, writing, and music—along with spiritual practices and guided imagery, Healing With the Arts gives readers the tools to heal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual ailments.

Acclaimed by hospitals and caretakers from around the world, Healing With the Arts brings a proven 12-week program out of the medical community and into your home and neighborhood. Internationally known leaders in the arts in medicine movement, authors Michael Samuels, MD, and Mary Rockwood Lane, RN, PhD, use creativity and self-expression to pave a path to healing.

Whether using it to improve your personal health or the health of your community, join the thousands of people who have already awoken their innate healing ability through art.


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