Posted by: Take Flight | May 11, 2016

Art Journaling to Elevate Your Mind/Body/Spirit

 

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CLARITY

Do you want more clarity about your emotional, physical, and/or spiritual health? Writing and drawing in a wellness art journal can offer deeper insights and elevate your health and well-being. Delving into this creative process can also be a source of pleasure and fun.

I’ve kept a wellness art journal for over 4 years now after taking an Artist’s Way course led by an expressive arts facilitator. Keeping a wellness art journal does not require that you be an artist−all that matters is the process itself. The act of doing the art leads you to a deeper understanding which fosters healing.

What’s Possible?

Keeping an art journal has helped me become more present with myself and others. With the focus on the person I’m with rather than random thoughts in my head, my listening skills have improved. Also, I’ve calmed my anxiety by understanding what runs it. Our bodies, minds, and spirits want our attention. Slowing down long enough with art journaling offers us wisdom.

EXPLORE

You can explore a health situation, a significant relationship decision, or what your life purpose is through the wellness art journal. You can keep one to better understand and process your feelings day-to-day, or during a crisis. It can also awaken your creative self. It’s something you can do alone, with a close friend or group of friends, or in a community class.

Sometimes I draw distinct pictures, or mandalas (an ancient drawing form from the Indian “Sanskrit” language meaning circle), and at other times they are more abstract. I often bring my health situations to the page for more clarity.

 The Body Never Lies

Once I had some health screenings and a radiologist reported a suspected mass from the findings. The medical personnel said I needed breast surgery right away. My gynecologist and the health professionals with the imaging center were adamant about this and said, “I wouldn’t be taking care of my health if I refused to do so.”

Feeling overwhelmed I turned to my wellness art journal. Fortunately I already had a silent retreat planned, so I took my wellness art journal along with me. During that week I drew several pictures of my left breast and spent time in meditation and prayer asking for direction. I held my hand on what I had drawn and after some time (days of returning to this), the answer seemed clear. I refused surgery and instead repeated the imaging procedure six months later. In its unique way the art journal had informed me that everything was fine.

Within six months I had a second MRI and there were no signs of a mass, in fact everything was completely normal. The original test had been a false positive. I share this not to recommend that anyone rely solely on an art journal for major medical information. My intention is to reveal how the art journal can help you tap into greater awareness. We still need to do our research and make decisions that are right for us.

Gather Your Supplies

  • Use whatever works best for you. Some ideas include: a sketchpad 6”x8” or larger, notebook, a journal with a cover you’re drawn to (or make your own), or a 3 ring binder with paper (unlined). You can use these in any combination. I prefer to have the sketchpad along with a notebook so I can explore my image(s) further.
  • Choose crayons, colored pencils, felt tip pens, or oil pastels. I’ve found regular pastels to get a bit messy. You can use some form of paints e.g. watercolors for variation although this process is meant to be a touchpoint for your day –10-20 minutes, so you want to keep that in mind.
  • You may want to consolidate your supplies by purchasing a plastic box for your art accessories. I have my colored pencils in one box with their eraser and sharpener. My crayons and oil pastels live in a separate box.
  • Make sure to have an eraser and sharpener handy.

Where to Go

  • Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Give yourself at least 10-20 minutes per entry in your art journal. If you have more time, then take it. Consider it a luxury.
  • Being out in nature (your patio, backyard, or a park) is ideal if possible. Nature nurtures this process. A view from your home will do just fine too. I sit on my couch which faces a large picture window with mountains and desert vegetation from Mission Hills Park. I store my art journal and accessories under a table nearby so they’re easy to get to.

 Rituals

  • Begin with a brief meditation as this is helpful for grounding and focus. You can ask your higher power, if you have one, by whatever name you call him/her, to guide your process and for your willingness to be open to the discovery.
  • Honor your wellness art journaling time as it is a precious gift you’re giving yourself. If you have family, roommates, or others who share your home space, consider creating a system so they know this is “your” time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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