Art, Health and Wholeness

Do you feel like you can’t keep up to the treadmill of your life? Like everyone else and the world around you is moving faster than you can clomp along? Yesterday, I felt the track of the tread as I rushed to pick up sketchpads and get to school to facilitate an art session with high school girls between lunch bites. In the past, my solution would have been to push harder to catch up in all the ways I felt behind … but I am learning there is a better way to live…

Yesterday, as I pulled the classroom door closed behind me and the art session began – I was reminded that instead of running faster to catch the busy – we can choose to stop. To step of the tread and readjust the speed.

The art instructor gave colors and hues of all kinds – the girls opened the massive sketchpads and began drawing and coloring self-portraits – “A healthy self.” The room was calm. Rich, vibrant and explosive colors invaded the white space of sketchpads and creativity oozed like melting butter around the room.

Near the end of the session, the instructor asked the group to consider the questions, Who am I? Who do I want to be in the future? How am I growing in to that person? These reflection questions helped all of us to consider what is unique about us, what is important to us, and how should we be spending our time in alignment with our values. This empowers us to live true and authentic lives.

This is satisfying – and society is in a desperate claw seeking deep down satisfaction.

Creativity (anything that we create with originality – this could be a strategic plan, a short story, or a new cloth diaper design) connects us to our authentic identity and helps us to live in the zone that says,I know who I am. I know what is important to me, and I am empowered to live according to those values. I do not live to meet to the expectations of others and I am not driven by the treadmill of societal pressures.”

When we make creativity  a priority, research shows we thrive.

“Stuckey and Novle considered more than 100 studies, concluding that creative expression has a powerful impact on hearth and well-being on various patient populations … engagement in the arts have a variety of outcomes including a decrease in depressive symptoms, an increase in positive emotions, reduction in stress responses, and, in some cases, improvements in immune system function.” – The Huffington Post

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszntmihalya said during his TED talk, “When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life …” 

PhD Cathy Malchiodi says, “It’s our capacity to actually “create” where we begin to live more fully, experience transformation, and recover the core of what it means to heal. It is your authentic expression through art making, music, song, movement, writing, and other forms of arts-based imagination that are central to the equation of why creativity is a wellness practice.” – The Huffington Post

Walking through the Royal Tyrell Museum with students this week reminded me that God is the Master of Imaginative Ingenuity. The replicas were stunning!

“All of us are the work of your hands” – Isaiah 64:8

So instead of looking to the busy treadmill to provide fulfillment, health and wholeness – look to The First Extraordinary Designer, for this is where we find ourselves.

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