Today, I am excited to share my conversation with art therapist Giora Carmi as part of my new interview series featuring artists and therapists from my popular internet list: Top 50 Art Therapy Blogs.
Giora is board certified art therapist. He graduated from NYU.
An illustrator of more than 40 children’s books, his last children’s book is called: “A Circle Of Friends.”
Giora writes an art process blog at www.intuitiveflow.org where he personally explores the intuitive creative process as a means to delve deeper into the roots of chronic pain as well as to access deeper spiritual understandings.
He has also written a book called “Opening Intuitive Flow Through Artwork.”
You can find Giora at his website at www.psychotherapythroughart.com
Shelley: Welcome Giora! I wanted to share how I found you. I started a blog 10 years ago called Intuitive Creativity. Several years ago, I was searching online for others who were doing similar work as me and found your blog at intuitiveflow.org. I know that your blog explores the healing of physical and emotional pain through intuitive art making. Could you share a bit about your blog and what inspired you to create it?
Giora: I had been meditating for 10 years. This changed me. I looked at everything differently. This led me to create the method where I work with people through art called “intuitive flow.” As a therapist, I saw that psychoanalysis is limited to the mind and not beyond. I knew that everything could go much deeper with the art. We are deeper than what we normally think we are.
My nerve pain has been with me for many years. It started about 20 years ago. It was not severe at first. I did not deal with it back then as I was not ready. Then the pain became hard to live with. It was hard to sleep. And, for years I only slept for about three hours a night. It is amazing that I could do all that I did. I think it was the meditation that supported me to be in a state of rest.
I went to see doctors about my nerve pain, and they immediately said that they did not know what to do about it. There were about 150 possibilities for why I was struggling with nerve pain. The only thing they know how to do is treat the pain with medication. In the treatment of the pain, the side effects were terrible for me. Especially because they cut the sharpness of my awareness. I felt dumb and insensitive and I did not want to live like that.
I took a drug for the pain for a short while, and I started to feel after one week that I did not care about anything. I was working as a traveling therapist at the time. I was driving to give an individual session, and luckily the session went well. But, after the session, I cried. It became clear to me that I was going to throw away my medication. I had to find other ways to deal with the pain.
My "intuitive flow" way of creating art is a method of release and I knew it was time for me to use my own method on myself. This method is so close to my heart, I decided to create my blog to share my personal process of pain release through art. And I should say that I still have pain. I have needed to release my pain many times. Often the release does not happen the first time. I do not believe in pushing to heal, as it creates resistance.
Shelley: I love how deep you go into your process and how honest and brave it is. Your blog is a great read. It is worth it to start on post #1 and go all the way through in sequence because - like you say - there is repetition but each time the roots of your pain become a little bit clearer and this gentle unraveling is part of the process of healing our emotional and physical pain.
I have struggled with a lot of emotional pain in my life and many of us have a massive amount of pain to grapple with. You have a beautiful way of sharing how to reach outside of your ordinary mind into the "intuitive flow" by bringing new information forward for your healing through the poetry and art.
Giora: We need to see life in a bigger frame. I try to avoid any possibility of logic in my intuitive flow approach. I approach my poetry and art in a playful way that does not involve thinking, as a way of bringing my intuition forward. There is a process in my book that describes this. Basically, I ask my clients to pay attention to only one thing. I say, “Pay attention to what feels beautiful to you.”
Your own unique sense of beauty is not like anyone else's. Everyone has to find their own way into the intuitive process. The first line in the drawing is always a little bit of a forced invitation to invite the intuitive flow to come. You can then intuitively add to the first line and then the next. At some point you will feel that your artwork is finished. Then a great feeling comes when your drawing has said what it needs to say.
This process invites the infinite world behind us to help us understand what is hurting inside of us. Before drawing, I often ask, "Let's see what going on. Let's find out." When you allow intuition to do the work, the infinite beingness of who we are informs us.
Shelley: I love that! I also have found, in the intuitive drawing and writing I have done for myself, that my creative process often starts with a problem or a struggle or a block in my flow. Witnessing it honestly with acceptance and allowing it to unfold opens up that breath of fresh air, the flow, the higher understanding.
A big part of doing art in therapy or just on our own, can open us up to a sense of higher possibility because we can feel so mired and dense in our pain. Something is needed to shift the heaviness and intuitive art making is a way that we can do this for ourselves.
I think your blog is such a great demonstration of moving through pain creatively. I would like to share one of your poems Giora, as often you do a spontaneous drawing and then write a spontaneous poem that reflects your painting or drawing.
This is from one of your earlier blog posts on intutiveflow.org called “Dealing with my Shame” where you share an intuitive drawing and poetry writing session and you say:
“I talked to my intuition: Draw what I feel now. Intuition is very fast. Once you decide what it is that you ask, it knows already, and all you have to do is just do an intuitive-flow drawing. I put my brush to the paints.”
Giora's Intuitive Painting Process:
And "going-in-with-words" after your painting brought you this poem:
I am trying now
Supported by my pain.
I listen to my sadness
And still hear the hard workers
In the basement.
It was so long ago
I am jumping now, ain’t I?
Sticking my head out
Look at me:
I am walking.
And in the basement
My old story
Then you did another painting:
This time the writing just flowed out of you complete:
Here we are leaving the old earth
Venturing into space
Our daring is unbelievable
We are not afraid
When the sun goes red
As it sinks
New soft clouds
Come all around us
We open our eyes
We have no words.
Exploring the Healing Power of Beauty
Shelley: What is your perspective on healing pain Giora?
Giora: We need to know that there is nothing to overcome. There is only the fluency and freedom when you know that everything is good. Learn to go deeper into who you are, and look from there. This is the meaning of acceptance because when you see it from the deeper place your pain does not threaten you any more and you just let it be as it is. There is no use in trying to fix pain because the perspective from which we try to fix ourselves is not the real healer. There is use in transcending all of our pain and witnessing it from a larger perspective.
From a larger perspective, we can move from suffering and fear to beauty and wonder. The beauty and wonder is who we really are, but we have chosen to limit ourselves - to make our consciousness narrow so that we can play the game of three-dimensional living, and experience what we can do in this realm of space and time. Because of the limited perspective that we live in, we do not see the whole truth of what is going on.
Usually it is hard to get into an honest and beautiful place when we use our regular thinking mind. Our thinking mind is built from resistance. We twist our own freedom through our regular thinking. Our ordinary mind can only do what it has already done.
We need to find a way to get into a different state. I encourage people to do this by following their sense of beauty. Usually our consciousness is narrow and we can only focus on one thing at a time. Once you start paying attention to beauty you will see the relationship between things. In art you can follow the lines and colors and how they relate. Beauty asks you to pay attention to what is beautiful and what is not. There is no beauty in one thing. It is about how things all work beautifully together.
Progress is simple. Every time we focus on beauty we weaken our fear. I love to progress through creating art. We can learn how to forget our pain and get lost in the honest beauty and who we really are. We can know the bigger picture when we create intuitive art. We can forget the pain we are dealing with. We can just get lost in the beauty and just enjoy who we really are!
A Poem by Giora
I am dancing very lightly
In the light
Moving to a place of meaning
Where everything is joy
I bend right
And look to the left with fear
It is an old habit showing
But I am peaceful
In the local flow
Moving to fulfillment.
Check out Giora's book Opening to Intuitive Flow Through Artwork - How to Use Your Innate Sense of Beauty for Deep Healing and Growth