Friday, February 11, 2005

HH550: The Healing Arts... what is that?

Healing Arts... what does that mean to me? Last week I suddenly found myself team teaching a grad level course so titled due to the primary teacher's indisposition. The course title gives me pause to consider.
Personally, I have always used the arts for fun and for healing - and sometimes even to earn some money! As a child, I loved playing doll house - creating a mini scenerio of my family situation. I also played in the sandbox using all sorts of nature's artifacts to symbolize whatever has moving in and through me as the designs formed in the sandbox. Music was something else I truly enjoyed - especially singing. In childhood, when I was especially happy, I recall going out on our 2nd floor back porch and singing in jubilation. Heaven knows what the neighbors thought! I still whistle, sing or hum under my breath much of the time - or so my students tell me... Additionally, both of my parents had strong artistic sensibilities and since Dad worked in the printing industry, we always had paper around. Thus drawing became a favorite pass time for me and both my sisters - and for two of us, art was our major in college.
Fast forwarding from the middle of the last century into the present, we now have entire fields of education and employment in the health arena entitled "Play Therapy; Sand-play Therapy; Art Therapy: Journaling Therapy, Psycho-drama, Movement & Dance Therapy, Writing as Therapy, etc." Imagine that - as adults, we have to be taught how to play again - how to have fun instead of work ourselves into the earth. And many of us really do need to be reminded how to express our emotions in ways that by-pass the mind and spring directly from our emotional base - also called authenticity and play. Somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost touch with our own inner truth trying hard to satisfy others. And we need to find ourselves all over again - perhaps for the first time.
Healing Arts - the natural world is full of healing arts. The songs of the birds. The colors of the leaves on the trees. Sunset & sunrise. Tumultuous storms. Snowflakes melting in our hands. All these and so much more are healing gifts of nature. Nature is the primary healer - but only if we are aware of nature and aware of our own bodies.
This grad class has been designed around the essential healing qualities of sound - in nature, in music, in voice, in the silence which is never silent... The primary teacher is a marvelous musician, chorale director and teacher. My areas of expertise lean toward the healing qualities of nature, the visual arts, writing, movement, and play. As we move through the semester, our students will learn from both of us and will benefit through foundational teachings as well as through experiential exercises. We are not presuming to train anyone to be "healing arts therapists." We are guiding them to discover for themselves the healing of all the arts. And if a students wants to pursue a therapeutic degree, that's wonderful! But it's a separate degree from our MA in Holistic Health.
And so I have jumped with both feet into the world of music therapy and am discovering a language for some things in only knew by way of experience. Did you know, for instance, that music changes the structure of a cell? That negative words/sounds spoken to the cell in the pietri dish will cause it to become misshapen and withdraw? That positive words/sounds bring tiny water droplets into snowflake shapes? If sound is that powerful, think of what it does to the human body which is primarily made of water? And are our cells dancing snowflakes or compressed, convoluted shapes suffering in the silence of their inability to communicate to our minds....

1 comment:

Lynne Brotman said...

Hi Pat,
It's wonderful that you are involved with music therapy. I started my career in dance therapy back in the 70's and enjoyed working with patients. I eventually moved on in a different direction. I now use my art quilts to help with healing in a process I call Personal Mapping(R). It is meant to help people explore their past and their future. I find it very cathartic. I appreciate your article on art and healing.