Spontaneous art and writing offer a mirror reflection of your inner world, and it will help you to express, release, see, and heal emotional pain. Visit my online classroom HERE.
Spontaneous art and writing offer a mirror reflection of your inner world, and it will help you to express, release, see, and heal emotional pain. Visit my online classroom HERE.
“If you can sit with your pain, listen to your pain and respect your pain—in time you will move through your pain.”
~ Bryant McGill
It is so challenging to "sit with" emotional pain until it reveals its story. Yet, to feel peace within, we must find ways to respect the painful parts of ourselves.
To feel complete peace with ourselves, all emotions must be accepted so that our limiting "pain stories" can be recognized. When we find the story that creates the pain, it can be "re-storied" towards health and happiness.
Respecting Emotional Pain
I have a dedicated sketchbook where I delve into my emotional discomfort through intuitive drawing. When needed, I create an intuitive "pain drawing" and spend a month (or more) "respecting" my drawing until it reveals its story to me. This way of processing emotional pain is patient, reverent and it brings about deep change.
Below I share a way to "soften" your emotional pain so it will reveal its limiting story to you. This process involves creating an "intuitive pain drawing" and offering regular acceptance to the visual representation of your emotional pain.
Once the resistance to my emotional pain releases, I gain insights into what is causing my discomfort, and then I know how to make a shift for the better.
Moving Toward Emotional Discomfort
This exercise is for those of us who repress emotional pain and need to learn how to listen to its messages. Instead of recoiling from your pain, set the courageous intention to get to know this part of yourself. Your emotions are trying to tell you something important about how you are seeing your life in a limiting way.
Use this art process when you are judging an emotion as negative or unpleasant. This process also works for physical pain because unexpressed emotional pain somatizes as discomfort in the body.
Relax as you begin this art process. Take several slow deep breaths. Allow yourself to feel all of your emotions. Look for areas of contraction, dislike or aversion to discomfort in your body.
Creating an Intuitive Pain Drawing
(*This art process was inspired and informed by psychotherapist Karči Cole Kňazovický)
Step 1. Talk to your emotional pain. (Welcome you pain to be here. Notice any discomfort or easing that comes with your attention.)
Invite an emotion that you find unacceptable to come forward into your awareness. Say “hello” to your sadness, your anger, your fear, your shame, your loneliness. If you are unaware of an emotion, focus on a tight, numb or painful part of your body.
Once you have identified a feeling of pain (or an area in your body), imagine you are meeting a stranger, determined to get to know this part of yourself that you usually try to push out of your awareness.
Sometimes this greeting can be startling to aspects of self that have long been denied. Difficult emotions that have never received acknowledgement or acceptance can be surprised by your sudden friendliness.
Art Process: As you say hello to your pain, begin to draw intuitively with a black pen. Allow your emotional pain to form a visual shape or structure.
Step 2. Work up to accepting your emotional pain.
Ask yourself: Can I accept this painful emotion? Let the answer spontaneously come. Be honest. Saying "no" is often more honest than saying "yes.”
If the answer is "no", ask yourself again, “Is it okay that it is no?” Again wait for the reply. Allow your answer to emerge from your heart. Do not seek the answer from your mind.
If the reply is "no" again, continue asking: “Is "no" an okay answer?” Continue asking until you get a "yes". “Yes” is a form of acceptance. Patiently wait for your mind and heart to open. Acceptance is what your pain needs.
Art Process: In the spirit of self-acceptance, allow discomforting imagery, symbols or colours into your drawing if they want to be there. You might have parts that are "ugly" or distorted that want to be included in your drawing.
Step 3. Explain to your pain why you had to deny it.
Take time and ask yourself for reasons why you had to deny this emotion. When the answers come, speak directly to the emotion as if you were talking to a friend whom you could not talk to for a long time.
Simple, honest answers soothe the rejected parts of self.
Art Process: Be aware of the reasons for your denial as you draw. Speak to your drawing about your denial.
Step 4. Apologize to your emotional pain
This step requires courage. Notice your resistance to speaking kindly to your pain. Notice the urge to want to get rid of your pain.
The mind likes to "parcel" pain away as a self-protection mechanism. Sense into your mind's desire to stay separate from your pain. Joining your mind and heart together, say, "I am so sorry I have ignored you."
Art Process: Write out or speak your apology out loud as you draw.
Step 5. Ask forgiveness from your emotional pain.
Ask the pained part of yourself to forgive you for denying it and excluding it from inclusive participation in your life. Your pain will forgive you for ignoring it - if you ask deeply and sincerely.
You might say the ho'oponopono prayer: "I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank-you. I love you."
Art Process: On the opposite page of your drawing, write out your forgiveness prayer or say it out loud as you draw.
Step 6. Forgive yourself for denying your emotional pain.
Accept yourself and forgive yourself for ignoring your pain for so long. “I forgive myself for denying my _________” can be repeated several times until you feel a sense of relief. Let your heart guide you.
If forgiveness feels impossible, try: “I accept myself for feeling _____ and I forgive myself for not accepting myself earlier.” Repeat this several times, slowly, until you feel a release.
Art Process: Intend self-forgiveness as you draw.
Step 7. Release judgments.
As we hold loving space for our feelings they change and become new. A painful emotion feels difficult to tolerate before it develops an unhindered flowing quality.
Say “I release the judgment that this emotion is wrong, bad or something to avoid.” Then allow your painful emotion (and intuitive drawing) to become a part of your daily life.
Art Process: Place your drawing in a place where you can look at it. Gaze upon your "emotional pain drawing" until you feel a complete acceptance of it.
Step 8. Negotiate a new relationship with this painful part.
If your emotional pain is not fully transformed through this expressive arts process, "sit with" your drawing for a month or more. Put your drawing in a place where you can meditate upon it daily.
I felt aversion to my "pain drawing" below. I wanted to hide my drawing my closet and forget about it! When I feel aversion, I say, "I love you" to my pain.
I stayed with my drawing for about a month, saying, "I love you/I accept you" when it felt difficult. Gradually my resistance to my "pain drawing" dissipated, and a touching, yet limiting story from my younger years emerged.
By staying with a pain that you have visually expressed, you are training yourself to accept what is really happening inside of you without judgment or resistance.
If you really delve into the exercise, you will recognize your denial and soften your blocks to love’s presence. With ongoing acceptance, you will free the energy flow in your body and in your life.
This process can be applied to physical aches, illnesses, emotional hurts, depressions or any place that you find in yourself that is not completely happy.
Intuitive drawing comes from our subconscious - from the edge of what we do not yet know about ourselves. For this reason, it is fruitful to intuitively draw your pain and trust that the meaning will be revealed later.
I meditatively "sat with" a pervasive pain in my heart during and after creating this intuitive drawing. I companioned my intuitive drawing for over a month before I understood what it meant to me.
Some days it felt difficult to stay with my drawing. However, by releasing judgments and repeatedly forgiving the pain for "plaguing me" with discomfort, my drawing gradually revealed its heroic but limited childhood narrative.
Emotional pain is created from limiting decisions that were made from a less mature state of consciousness. Staying with an intuitive drawing with loving patience will reveal its messages. Once the (younger) limiting story is made conscious, we can make new choices for well-being.
We do not always know what is best for our growth. Because our ego is split into parts, with various factions competing to get differing emotional needs met, we cannot always perceive our own best interests. When we follow our (ego) self-will we will make many mistakes. But, this will also bring the lessons necessary to learn and grow, albeit through struggle, burnout, pain, illness, and confusion.
The process of deep emotional healing sometimes feels stressful because our bodies retain unresolved feelings long after it is necessary. When we follow our inner knowing about how to heal emotionally, we may take steps that feel unusual or even difficult, but each intuitive step is accompanied by an inner affirmation of peace and relief.
Unresolved emotions need to be worked through slowly, giving the body time to integrate and absorb what has come into the light. Breathing deeply, sitting still, or laying down with arms open to Spirit is often all that is needed for emotion to release. Staying with whatever comes up, without thinking about it, moves the emotion out of submersion, and into the light of love.
Excerpted from A Course in Creating Miracles
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
~ Carl Jung
Intuitive collage is a process of quieting your everyday mind and inviting imagery to express the story of your inner world.
Intuitive collage will always tell you something that you do not yet know about yourself. Intuitive collage will communicate the "growth edge" that is emerging from your unconscious mind.
I love intuitive collage because it does not require any sort of cultivated artistic "talent." Over the past 15 years, intuitive collage has taken me on a journey to the depths of my unconscious, and it continues to inform me today.
I have been passionately exploring digital collage this past year. Digital collage is such a fast way to process emotions and make the unconscious conscious. You can see my visual process and instructions HERE.
As much as I have grown to love digital collage. I still love the tactile process of getting my hands sticky with paper collage. As I finish up my 365 mandala practice in 2018, I am gearing up for a 365 paper collage practice for 2019.
Here are instructions on how to make a paper collage.
Intuitive Magazine Collage
You will need a sketchbook or loose paper, a glue stick, scissors, and magazines to cut up.
Magazine Collage Process
1. Quiet your mind. Take three deep breaths and quiet your mind. Sink your awareness deep into your body. Set your rational mind on "silent" and sense into what you do not yet know inside yourself.
2. Tear out 10-20 magazine pages. Quickly flip through a magazine and instinctively pull out 10-20 pages that move you emotionally - positive or negative.
3. Cut out your imagery. Meditatively cut out 10 - 15 images and words that emotionally move you the most.
4. Arrange your collage. Intuitively arrange your imagery. Lay down your largest images as your background and spontaneously layer your smaller images and words on top.
5. Glue down your images and words. Gently move your image arrangement to the side of your paper and glue down your background first and then layer on the other images.
6. Contemplate your collage. Hold your heart gently and soften your eyes. Sense into your collage and contemplating what it means to you.
Initially, an intuitive collage offers up a "feeling-tone" that might not have words. Bask in the "feeling-tone of you your inner world in visual form.
If any insights or words "pop into" your mind write them down on the back of your collage. If no insights come, just enjoy the results of your honest self-expression.
Try to contemplate your collage for an entire day and then put it away. Pull it out at a later time and see if more insights come.
Seeing the Beauty Behind all Circumstances
Uplifting our emotional state can be either easy or difficult during this time of year. Part of my own emotional healing has involved looking deeper than the negative appearances of my life to see the growth lessons behind all that has troubled me.
During this magical time when the world collectively efforts to uplift out of its heavier emotional states into a place of celebration and connection, I offer you a beautiful quote about how to magically draw forth the beauty from your holiday season.
The Gentle Art of Blessing
by Pierre Pradervand
"How to incorporate blessing into your life. On awakening, bless this day, for it is already full of unseen good which your blessings will call forth, for to bless is to acknowledge the unlimited good that is embedded in the texture of the universe and awaiting each and all.
On passing people in the street, on the bus, in places of work and play, bless them. The peace of your blessing will companion them on their way, and its aura will be a light on their path.
On meeting people and talking to them, bless them in their health, their work, their joy, their relationship to the universe, themselves and others. Bless them in their abundance and their finances, bless them in every conceivable way, for such blessings not only sow seeds of healing but one day will spring forth as flowers in the waste places of your own life.
To bless means to wish, unconditionally and from the deepest chamber of your heart, unrestricted good for others and events; it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with awe that which is always a gift from the Creator. To bless is to invoke divine care upon, to speak or think gratefully for, to confer happiness upon, although we ourselves are never the bestower, but simply the joyful witnesses of life’s abundance.
When something goes completely askew in your day, when some unexpected event upsets your plans—and you—burst into blessing. For life is teaching you a lesson, and the very event you believe to be unwanted, you yourself called forth, so as to learn the lesson you might balk against were you not to bless it. Trials are blessings in disguise, and hosts of angels follow in their path.
To bless is to acknowledge the omnipresent, universal beauty hidden from material eyes; it is to activate that law of attraction which, from the furthest reaches of the universe, will bring into your life exactly what you need to experience and enjoy."
And of course, above all, do not forget to bless the utterly beautiful person YOU are.
Have you felt broken, and have put yourself back together through creative practices? If so, I would love to share your creative healing story with thousands of readers.
This creative healing story series honours the human journey from hurt to creative self-empowerment, from limitation to inspired possibility, and from fear to compassionate contribution.
Telling your truth, and sharing how you have creatively healed through life's challenges inspires us all to move from pain to empowerment.
Each person who shares their creative healing journey holds a forever place in my heart. I welcome you to enjoy these healing stories and connect to the creative work of the story writers.
With much love,
If we are not seeing a luminous and loving world, we are looking at life on the level of fear, and forgiveness will feel nearly impossible. Forgiveness involves letting other people be as they are without judgment. When we condemn other people, believing that ego cruelty is their ultimate and only truth, we become a part of their hatred, harm and selfishness.
It is possible to function with love in the world without becoming an active part of another's ego darkness. While on one level we need to say a firm, "no" to fear-driven mistreatment, unkindness, cruelty or destruction, on another level we can join with everyone we meet with the silent intention to spiritually heal within.
Spiritual teacher Miranda Holden offers a beautiful way to inwardly join with people when it feels difficult to communicate face-to-face. My adaptations are below:
1. Choose Someone to Forgive: See someone you are unable to relate with person-to-person in your imagination with whom you would like to make a deeper connection, experience some kind of healing, or break through into forgiveness.
2. Look for the Light: See this person's face and feel their presence. Brush past the difficult personality traits, behaviors and history together. Notice your fears of deeper contact and search for the light in his or her heart. Trust that although this light may be shrouded, it is there. Be willing to reach for the highest light within this person.
3. Build a Bridge of Grace: Once you can see this seed of light in the darkness of the person you find difficult, reach out from your heart to the light in his or her heart and walk towards it. Allow this light to draw you towards the highest within this person you want to forgive. Imagine that the light within both of your hearts is forming a bridge of love.
4. Find the Emotional Need: With your heart wide open, compassionately sense into this person's darkness. Ask, "What is your primary emotional need?" Allow your intuition to show you a hidden emotional need within this person.
5. Find the Antidote: Next, ask your intuition to communicate the antidote to his or her emotional pain. It might be respect, love, appreciation or acceptance, for example. Pour this antidotal feeling of fulfilment into the person you want to forgive. Pour this emotional remedy directly into his or her heart.
6. Give to the Emotional Need: Through your imagination, give this person what he or she emotionally needs. Know that what you give to another, you also give to yourself. As you both feel emotionally fulfilled on an inner imaginal level, speak out the contents of your heart.
7. Celebrate the Spiritual Relationship: Let all fears between you drop away. When you forgive someone who has harmed you, your authentic self emerges along with a feeling of emotional relief. Enjoy the truth of your spiritual relationship with this person, even if it is not a reality on a personality level.
Today is the last day to purchase the Art Bundle for Good #3. My Mandala Meditations e-course is part of the bundle this year. Purchase my Intuitive Mandala course, worth $39 + 99 other courses for $99!
I bought the bundle myself last year and was happy to donate 25% to such a heart-based charity. You can watch the story behind Courageous Kitchen HERE.
I am so excited to be a part of Art Bundles for Good this year! I warmly invite you to treat yourself to a year's worth of creativity courses. You have five days to leap aboard!
Invest in your creativity! $4000 worth of courses, workbooks, ebooks and other resources on topics like painting, watercolour, brush lettering, drawing, mixed media arts, digital illustration, creativity, marketing your art. This is an amazing opportunity to get 100 art resources at an incredibly low price.
25% of the Art Bundle profits are going to support Courageous Kitchen, a Bangkok based charity helping refugees. Get some top art learning resources from many of the biggest names in the industry and do some good at the same time.
A great selection of 100 online classes, ebooks and products from some of the top art and creativity instructors in the world.
Here is the link to the website:
See you there!
P.S. The Art Bundle is backed by a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee.
If you want to dive into your creativity for the next year I offer you a chance to win 100 art courses and resources! Three winners will have a chance to win the entire Art Bundle for Good including $4000 of art related courses, ebooks and other great resources. It doesn’t cost anything to enter, so don’t miss out. The Art Bundle Giveaway only lasts for 7 days, starting today!
Art Bundle #3 is Coming!
If you don't win one of the three bundles in the Giveaway, you’ll have another chance to purchase the bundle of all 100 art resources in the 5-day sale starting on November 8.
This bundle offers $4000 worth of courses, ebooks and other resources on topics like painting, drawing, watercolours, mixed media arts, digital illustration, creativity, marketing your art, and more all bundled together for one low price - a wonderful package of courses that will definitely take your creativity to a new level!
25% of the profits are going to support Courageous Kitchen, a Bangkok based charity helping refugees. The Art Bundle for Good is a great opportunity to get 100 art learning resources from many of the biggest names in the industry and donate to a good cause at the same time.
Visit the website to enter the Giveaway. Three people will win the entire bundle of art resources!
You can enter to win HERE. See you there!
“The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort towards wholeness."
~ Madeleine L'Engle
I often get asked questions about how to choose expressive arts courses in my online school. I have detailed the therapeutic benefits of each course for you below.
All expressive arts courses offer you regular email prompts to support you to express your truth and heal emotionally. My courses "keep you company" through your daily expressive practices offering fresh ideas, visual and verbal prompts, and deep insights into the emotional healing process.
* Five Stages of Self-Expression
We are all at different stages in our expressive journey:
*1. Some of us are discovering that there is more to ourselves than just our social presentation. We do not yet understand what is "pushing up" for emotional healing, and we need to find ways to express our inner world.
* 2. Some of us need daily ways express, release and reduce emotional pressure without worrying about what it all means just yet.
*3. Some of us need to make sense of what we are expressing so that we can understand how to change our thinking patterns.
*4. Some of us need to process and transform deep pockets of emotional pain such as childhood and teenage hurt, trauma, shame, low self-worth, fear, grief and anger.
*5. Some of us see that our emotional healing is connected to our spiritual healing. We know we need "higher help" to heal the most stubborn pockets of pain within. We also ache to understand the deeper meaning and purpose of our life.
How Expressive Art Workshops Support the Five Stages of Self-Expression
1. Photo Therapy - Take a photo every day for 30 days. Breathe, observe and emotionally respond to your environment through a photo a day. (See *1)
2. Narrative Therapy - Daily Story Writing for 30 Days. This e-course provides daily prompts to invite you to consider how you see your "problems" and discover what inspires you about your life right now. (See *1)
3. Expressive Poetry - Poetry with Imagery for 30 Days. This course will support you to select imagery that feels strong for you and to write about it spontaneously. In this course, you will begin to see what is burbling below your subconscious mind and learn how to identify what is coming into your conscious mind for emotional healing. (See *1)
4. Symbolic Journeys - Art, Poetry and Collage Prompts for 45 Days. These art and writing prompts will support you to play, draw, paint, collage, create poetry, experiment, free associate, and explore what imagery and visual symbols mean to you. (See *1)
5. Intuitive Collage for Emotional Insight - Create a Ten Minute Intuitive Collage for 30 Days. Create a small torn paper collage and learn to "read into" what your personal symbolism is trying to communicate. (See *2, and *3)
6. Healing Difficult Emotions with Expressive Art - Intuitive Painting, Drawing, Collage and Writing Therapy for 15 Days. This course provides an excellent introduction to the expressive arts. Simple art exercises such as painting, drawing and collage will support you to examine emotional struggles such as worry, fear, frustration, fear, conflict, negativity, heartbreak and addiction. (See *2 and *3)
7. Collage for Self-Discovery - A Spontaneous Collage Every Day for 90 Days. This e-course provides a daily cathartic emotional release through daily collage. Many visual examples and daily email prompts are included. This course is especially useful if you feel flooded with unprocessed emotions that you need to release. (See *2 and *3)
Daily Journal E-Courses - Part 1, 2 and 3.
Once you have released the pressure of emotional repression through imagery, you will need to learn how your belief patterns create your reality. Each daily journal course invites you to consider three questions that will support you to understand your emotions.
8. 30 Days of Inspired Creativity - 30 Days of Journal Writing - Part 1. This daily journal e-course will help you crack into the mystery of what is bothering you emotionally. Supporting you to move out of depression, repression, self-rejection, financial struggle and hurt, I share personal stories to inspire you on a daily writing journey through your emotions. (See *3)
9. 30 Days of Authentic Self-Expression - 30 Days of Journal Writing - Part 2. This journal writing course will support you move beyond feeling victimized by your emotional pain and will support you to better communicate your authentic feelings with others people. This course will inspire you to process painful emotional states with self-love. (See *3)
10. 30 Days of Passion and Purpose - 30 Days of Journal Writing Therapy - Part 3. When we move into our authentic magnitude, our relationships need to re-calibrate. This journal writing e-course will support you to gracefully handle the re-calibration that authentic growth brings. (See *3)
11. Creative Abundance - 40 Affirmative Journaling Prompts. This e-guide also includes daily affirmations to support your creative visions to manifest in the real world. (See *3)
12. * New Course: Healing Trauma with Intuitive Art - 30 days of intuitive creativity prompts to support gentle, well-paced trauma healing. Learn how to love and heal yourself through intuitive drawing, poetry, painting, collage. (See *4)
13. 100 Days of Art Journal Therapy - 100 Days of Expressive Art, Poetry and Narrative Therapy. This e-course comprehensively offers 100 days of art and writing directives to support you to move through deep pockets of emotional pain in safely paced, wise and innovative ways. (See *3, 4, 5)
14. New Course: Healing Grief with Art and Writing - 70 expressive art and writing prompts and 50 self-care ideas to help you heal through loss, grief, and difficult life transitions. (*See #4, 5)
15. A Course in Creating Miracles - 365 Days of Spiritual Practices for Emotional Healing. This course will support you to understand the spiritual reasons for your emotional pain in a simple to understand format. It includes daily contemplations to calm your nervous system and quiet your mind. Note: There are no art-making exercises in this course. (See #5)
All video lessons are released right after you pay so that you can dive into them all at once if you like!
16. Bloom Into Collage - 3 Video Classes. A fun video course on the art of spontaneous collage! Start with a surprise collage challenge. Next, create an affirmative pattern collage and an intuitive poem. And, finally, learn how to create an intuitive collage for emotional release.
17. Intuitive Mandala Meditations - 5 Video Classes. In this Five Part Video Mandala Course you will learn how to: EXPRESS spontaneously. EXPLORE art materials. PLAY with shapes. CALM your mind, and ASPIRE to happiness.
Did you know that you can significantly save money by purchasing your expressive arts courses in bundles? View descriptions of the Course Bundles HERE
All courses from Expressive Art Workshops are designed to reconnect you to your intuition through spontaneous art and expressive writing so that you can see, process and heal your emotions, and access the happiness of complete self-love.
View all Courses HERE
My Inner Writer Speaks
In preparing for my chat for writer Dawn Montefusco's interview show called "Write Your True Story," I had a surprising encounter with my inner writer that brought tears to my eyes. The night before our interview, just as I was about to fall asleep, the writer part of myself spoke up and said, "I want to share how passionate I am about writing!" This utterly surprised me.
My inner writer kept me awake writing down her story for most of the night. When my notes in the night were finished, I realized that my writer-self has her own unique history of evolvement and her own path of giving. I was in awe of how much my writer-self wants to serve "the art of emotional healing" in the world.
My writer-self is insistently intuitive, joyful, endlessly passionate, and incredibly determined. It was quite gorgeous for me to recognize how purely selfless my writer-self is in her desire to serve. I was sincerely moved by her goodness and beauty.
During my midnight encounter, my human-self met the passionate essence of my writing soul much more intimately than ever before. And now, I feel so much more at peace about my intense need to write!
Please join Dawn and me in our passionate conversation about writing HERE.
This course bundle will support you to "get it all out" through imagery and words, so you can better see what you are emotionally struggling with inside. Release your repressed emotions through daily spontaneous collage and daily guided journal writing.
I love to combine Focusing Psychotherapy with intuitive art-making. Focusing is a process developed by psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin. It involves holding open, non-judging attention to our internal knowing... a knowing that is directly experienced in the body but is not yet in words.
Gendlin gave the name "felt sense" to the unclear, pre-verbal sense of "something" in the body - the inner knowledge or awareness that has not been consciously verbalized yet.
A "felt-sense" is not the same as an emotion. It is more like an intuition of our growth edge. This bodily-felt "something" that is not yet known. This "something" may be an awareness of a current situation or an old hurt that is coming up to heal.
Crucial to the concept, as defined by Gendlin, a "felt-sense" is unclear at first. Gendlin also described our felt-senses as "sensing an implicit complexity, a holistic sense of what one is working on."
This is an emotional Focusing "check-in" art exercise that I did last year that inspired a deep and permanent change in myself. It was inspired by psychologist Dr Kathy McGuire. I used markers for my drawing, and I often closed my eyes to more deeply sense what I was feeling in my body.
1. How am I today? Sense inside of yourself, and ask yourself, "How am I today?" Close your eyes, and just wait and see what comes.
I am sensing.....a light shining from within.
2. Felt-sense. Now, ask yourself, "And, what's the feel of this whole thing?" Again, wait for the "intuitive feel," the more-than-words...of the whole thing to form . Find some words to fit with your inner feeling.
I am sensing.....a light pushing out from my inner core, yet something is blocking it.
3. Draw a symbol that represents your felt-sense. Sense into an image that feels just right for the felt-sense and open your eyes. Create an intuitive drawing that resonates with this "feel of the whole thing."
(See my drawing above.)
4. Refine your felt-sense drawing. Keep working on your drawing to capture it just right, going back-and-forth between your inner felt-sense and your visual symbol until there is a sense of fit.
"Yes, that's it."
5. Feeling of all okay. Now, ask yourself, "What would this be like if it were all okay?" See if you can get some words for the feeling of "all okay."
All okay is... sensing a strengthening of internal self-respect.
6. What is in the way of "all okay?" Now, ask yourself gently, "What's in the way of that being okay?" Wait for what comes as a bodily sense, an "intuitive feel" of the whole thing.
What is in the way of okay? The need for outer validation.
8. A small step forward. See if you can find any small step that would bring you closer to how you'd like it to be.
I am envisioning a strong core of inner dignity emanating out into the outer world.
9. Enjoy your insights. Now, just spend another minute enjoying what has come.
I am enjoying the feeling of solid self-respect inside.
10. Come back to the outer world. When you're ready, end your session for today and slowly come back into the room.
I am back!
Few of us have escaped experiencing trauma in our human life. I define trauma as a difficult life event that was too overwhelming to emotionally process when it happened. When we become emotionally overwhelmed, trauma is stored in our body, waiting for another time in the future to be digested, resolved and healed.
Exponential growth is possible after a traumatic event. Healing through trauma can forge us into amazing human beings - full of power, compassion, wisdom, and integrity - if we understand what strengths the trauma is inviting us to develop.
Free Video Conversation
I had the wonderful opportunity to talk about healing trauma with the expressive arts with Jennifer Cunningham in her Post-Traumatic Enlightenment Interview Series.
Join us for our conversation HERE!
~ Melody Beattie
Enrich the experience: Amplify your appreciation into a feeling of deep and intense gratitude. Hold this experience for 10-20 seconds to install it in your longterm memory.
Absorb the experience: Extend this intense feeling of gratitude. Sense the warmth of gratitude sinking into you and staying in your body and mind.
Link the positive and negative material: Staying strong and steady with your positive feelings, bring this "higher vibration" of appreciation into your negative mind states to soothe and heal old pain.
Repeat the HEAL process as often as possible during the day.
In order to install positive feelings in the body and mind, it is helpful to paint your gratitude while you are feeling it. In this way, you will have a visual imprint afterwards to meditate upon. I enjoy creating intentional energy paintings to anchor and extend good feelings in my body. I have found that watercolor painting is a profound way to anchor gratitude into my consciousness.
Amplify gratitude as explained above in the HEAL process.
Spontaneously paint a watercolor painting to extend the feeling of gratitude in your body and mind.
Fun Fact: 90% of our body is made of water. See how thoughts of gratitude create beautiful crystalline structures in your body HERE.
My passion as a psychotherapist and expressive arts educator is to encourage people to love all parts of themselves - especially the places inside that have felt ignored, rejected or ridiculed in the past. In my own wellness journey, I have developed many creative processes that encourage emotional healing though honest self-expression.
Expressive art is honest and spontaneous art. It is emotionally healing to express aspects of ourselves that might not get a lot of "air time" in our conscious awareness. Our socialized personality is afraid of honest self-expression. And, while it has helped us fit into our family, school and culture, it fears any kind of social disapproval.
In the process of socialization, we learn to hide essential aspects of ourselves from others. Yet, to heal the anxiety, sadness and anger of social and self-alienation, we need to give ourselves permission to express and love every aspect of who we are.
I have discovered many benefits in maintaining a personal daily expressive art practice such as decreased anxiety, the release of difficult emotions, and better self-understanding. I have also learned that sometimes we have to "trick" ourselves into creating spontaneously because we might be in the habit of following the rules, fitting in and "making nice."
Here are some fun ways to get started with a spontaneous art practice.
7 Spontaneous Art Exercises
1. Image and a Word: Choose one image and one word from a magazine and glue them onto a piece of paper or in your journal. Ask yourself, "How does this word and image reflect how I am feeling right now?"
2. Found Poetry: Tear out a page from an old book and circle words and sentences that activate you emotionally - positive or negative. Colour, doodle or paint around the words. Read your "found poem" out loud to give voice to a more subconscious part of yourself.
3. Scribble Drawing: Quickly draw a random scribble on your paper. Turn your scribble drawing around until your imagination sees a recognizable shape. Develop your shape with lines, patterns and colours. Give your scribble drawing a spontaneous name.
4. Magazine Face: Tear out a magazine page with a large face on it. Using felt pens or oil pastels, doodle, detail, and spontaneously draw within the face. Ask yourself, "How does this face reflect a part of my inner life?"
5. Healed Heart Collage: Draw or paint a heart while contemplatively asking yourself, "What would heal my heart today?" Spontaneously choose 1-5 words from an old book or magazine and glue them on your heart.
6. Draw a mandala: Trace a circle into your journal and draw detailed patterns from the inside-of-the-circle-out, or the outside-of-the-circle-in with a black pen. Concentrate on the repetitive patterns and give your anxious thoughts a rest.
7. Colour a mandala: Using coloured markers, meditatively colour the mandala you have spontaneously created. This a great way to gather focus and energy when you feel exhausted or scattered.
Explore Expressive Art for Self Therapy HERE.
Your deepest emotional wound becomes your greatest superpower - once healed. This prolific course bundle includes numerous written PDF lessons, plenty of visual examples, comprehensive psychological explanations of the emotional healing process, 8 art video demos and a PDF guidebook.
"Through spontaneity, we are re-formed into ourselves."
~ Viola Spolin
I had such a wonderful conversation with artist Karen Abend on her Sketchbook Revival Workshop series.
At the beginning of our video workshop, I share more about my two most recent sketchbook practices. And, to show my progression from emotional pain to joy - I also share some of my older drawing journals - when I was doing a lot of "shadow work."
For the final part of the session, I shared four expressive arts exercises that I use in my creative therapy sessions.
Four expressive arts exercises together:
The free class mentioned in the video is HERE.
All of us experience anxiety in varying degrees. Your anxiety might be a daily struggle or it might only come up when you’re facing a stressful situation. I specialize in facilitating a wide range of expressive arts modalities, and I offer insights into how to use the expressive arts for navigating anxiety. Below, I share my thoughts about the deeper meaning of anxiety, along with how creative self-expression can help. I also share four exercises you can try to calm your mind and body.
In my experience, anxiety is a mind-generated “cover up” for the deeper emotions that we are afraid to feel. Anxiety sits “on top” of difficult emotions that are stored in the subconscious. Anxiety arises from the inner conflict between the “social self” that we present to the world, and the other aspects of self that we have repressed and disowned.
Anxiety is most often a resistance to the aspects of ourselves that we fear expressing, whether they be dark or light. Self-rejection fuels anxiety. Self-love calms anxiety. When I work with someone who is struggling with a great deal of anxiety, we gently begin looking for the emotional need for acceptance that has not been met by other people.
Invariably, the root of all anxiety points to our genuine need for unconditional love for all our aspects of self. If we are experiencing anxiety, we can begin to search for the emotions, drives, desires, and aspects of self that feel out of alignment with who we are “expected” to be in our family and social groups.
Traveling back to learn the lessons hidden within our anxiety can be done through spontaneous art making and story writing. These two modalities balance both sides of the brain. The left side of the brain is logical, sequential, and it relies on the security of memory to feel safe. (The left brain likes to write memory based stories.) The right brain is the home to our unpredictable intuition, the subconscious storage of our emotions, and the rich symbolic imagistic language of our bright originality. (The right brain likes to create intuitive art.)
How Creating Expressive Art Helps With Anxiety
Creating intuitive/expressive art can help with anxiety in a variety of ways. First and foremost, expressive art can facilitate the release of emotions. If you are feeling heavy-laden with unprocessed emotions, I suggest engaging in a daily creative writing and/or art practice to facilitate what psychoanalyst Carl Jung called “symbol release.”
Uncensored self-expression is a benevolent helping process. Siphoning off the excess build-up of emotional energy through spontaneous writing and art making is a cathartic form of anxiety release unto itself. And, upon deeper reflection, the art and writing can reveal the limited patterns of thinking that create the difficult emotions in the first place.
The simple meditative act of making art can calm anxiety as well. Taking our mind off of our problems with an all-absorbing creative activity creates a quiet inner space so that new growth solutions can “pop up” from the subconscious mind. Giving ourselves a break from our anxious thoughts invites our innate originality to arise and inform our growth steps forward.
4 Simple Ways to Calm the Mind and Body Through Art Making
"Concentration is a fine antidote to anxiety." ~ Jack Nicklaus
1. Coloring for Calm – The popularity of adult coloring books speaks to the calming effect that concentrated focus brings. I have seen this calming phenomenon in my therapeutic art studio work. People who suffer from anxiety calm down profoundly when offered art projects that have intricate patterns to color or paint. Painting or coloring within detailed, pre-drawn designs can concentrate the mind’s focus so profoundly, anxieties are forgotten for a time.
2. Zen Doodling – Zen doodling is a popular method of relaxing the mind through doodling. It can be a good structure for any beginner who simply wants to relax and shut off the mind through the detailed drawing of repetitive patterns. If you prefer not to doodle from your imagination, there are many good books on the market that provide structured templates to doodle within.
3. Scribble Drawing – Scribble drawing is a tried and true spontaneous art exercise that works well as an introduction to spontaneous drawing. Scribble drawing was developed by art educator, Florence Cane. Her sister, art therapist Margaret Naumburg, implemented the scribble drawing when she started a progressive school for children in 1914 that encouraged spontaneous creative expression.
Method for Scribble Drawing:
a. Create a quick and spontaneous scribble, or as Cane described, “play with flowing continuous line” on your page – with your eyes open or closed.
b. Scribble until you feel finished, but avoid making your scribble too dense.
c. After you have finished your scribble, turn your drawing around to contemplate it from all angles.
d. Similar to seeing shapes in clouds and inkblots, allow your unconscious mind to pick an image out of the scribble.
e. Develop your found imagery with heavier lines. Embellish your imagery with details, doodles, patterns, and colors.
f. After you are finished, intuitively name your drawing.
4. Spontaneous Collage – Spontaneous collage involves choosing images “randomly” from a book or a magazine, and gluing them down in a non-rational way. Using the principles of projection, our inner emotionality chooses imagery that it resonates with. The pictures that stand out the most strongly will have an emotional charge that can be contemplated for deeper self-understanding.
Expressive Art Books
Because the body cannot tell the difference between a real image and an imagined image, it is important to create new symbols of strength after processing emotional pain. I love the transpersonal approach to art and healing in the books Art and Healing, Visual Journaling, and Drawing from the Heart all by Barbara Ganim.
To change the negative feelings in our emotional body, more unlimited truths often need to be introduced. We can unknowingly “recycle” our emotional pain by repeatedly expressing our limitations in our artwork. For many years I made this mistake in my own expressive art practice.
After the repeated emotional catharsis through my drawings, I began to feel discouraged by the consistent negative patterns that I saw in my art. Thinking I was releasing my pain, I would draw my same set of inner limitations over and over.
Ganim’s transformative approach to artmaking involves creating symbolic representations of wellness to meditate upon after emotional pain has been expressed. We can heal anxiety at its root by asking our body for inspired imagery to meditate upon to help us emotionally heal.
Healing Inner Conflict
Many people are afraid to “let loose” in the creative process for fear of what might be revealed. It is helpful to understand that imagery often expresses emotions that our mind might not want to accept. It might be comforting to know that our subconscious mind will generate images of shame and emotional pain first, and then images of forward-growth will be revealed after.
It is also helpful to know that we are presently feeling is arising to be healed. Avoiding the natural timing of our innate emotional healing process can create great anxiety. Because our emotional struggles are often expressed symbolically in imagery before they become verbal, sustaining a regular spontaneous art making practice can facilitate a precognitive emotional release that calms anxiety at the root.
The symbolic release of emotional pain through expressive art making invites something new to emerge. Emotional release calms the body and provides “space” for our deeper mind to generate new psychological symbols for growth. Meditation upon these positive symbols can lead to the tranquility of body, mind, and soul. There is a self-healing potential within all of us that can be accessed through the open-ended process of spontaneous art making.
I invite you to explore symbolic release of your emotions HERE.
Inspiration to Keep You Writing
"In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it." ~ Julia Cameron
As part of my emotional healing process, I wrote 3 pages longhand in my journal every morning for many years. I later began to explore other morning creative practices such as morning collages, morning mandalas, morning intuitive drawings, and morning art journaling.
Yet, it was the written journaling that helped me cognitively sort and understand the various voices inside my head. By sorting out all of the different sides of myself that were conflicted, I was able to calm myself, unravel my emotional pain, and become more inspired in my thinking.
What are Morning Pages?
In the words of Julia Cameron:
"Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing; strictly stream of consciousness. Pages are meant to be the act of moving the hand across the page, and writing down whatever comes to mind - the stuff that eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page."
Writer's Block and Emotional Overwhelm
When I first started writing morning page in my 30's there were periods of time when I could not write. When I was emotionally blocked, I would evade my writing for days, weeks, and even months. When I started to get into the deep stuff, the hard parts, the places inside that I did not want to admit to - I stopped writing.
Keeping in mind how challenging it is to write when in emotional pain, I have designed a 3 part journal course - 90 days in total - to support you through the initial, intermediate, and advanced stages of writing through the "hard stuff."
As Julia Cameron shares:
"When people ask, "Why do we write morning pages?" I joke, "To get to the other side." Morning pages get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, or our negativity, of our moods." Above all, they get us beyond our Censor. Beyond the reach of the Creator's babble we find our own quiet center, the place where we hear the still, small voice that is at once our Creator's and our own."
Painful emotions indicate disowned, unseen parts of ourselves.
Cut-off aspects of self can be witnessed and brought back to loving awareness through the process of intuitive collage.
I have been going through some deep shamanic changes in my life recently.
With much emotional intensity being activated by the circumstances of my life, I have created over 100 digital collages in the past two months!
A new level of strength has emerged through my process of visual self-honesty.
We heal our painful emotions by expressing all parts of ourselves fully and openly.
Learn how to create a simple digital collage HERE.
Learn how to create intuitive paper collages HERE.
View a slideshow of my recent collages HERE.
Create digital or paper collages as a way to emotionally process your inner life in my 30-day intuitive collage challenge HERE.
Come Play with Me!
"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct."
~ Carl Jung
I am posting a series of 30 "purely intuitive" digital collages on Instagram HERE.
Choice 1: Follow the 30 Collage Challenge Prompts. Name your collage for social media according to the day and theme.
Day 1 - Map
Choice 2: Purely Intuitive. If you want to be utterly spontaneous with your digital or paper collages - name and tag:
Day 1 - (Your Collage Title)
After launching my new intuitive collage challenge two weeks ago - the online app that I used for my digital collages was missing in action a day later! Gone!
The good news is - the app is back now! I am having fun playing around with Freemix when I get a chance. I find spontaneous collage to so emotionally revealing and healing. I have been integrating aspects of my "mother-self" and my "teen-self" and my "sexual-self" through digital collage.
Some words to the wise...When a website's URL has not been updated to https it shows up as "not secure" on Chrome. Use the website at your own discretion. Freemix does not require any passwords or financial information to use so it seems ok to play around on.
Freemix is a bit awkward in places, but it is the easiest free collage app I have found so far. There are some "workarounds" needed for certain functions. For example, the download button does not work for me, so I download my digital collages under the share button.
The downloads are not high resolution - so this is mainly an emotional processing and "art-play" tool for me. My hope is that owners update it, as there is not anything comparable that I have found online for collage lovers.
A quick way to create a collage on FREEMIX
1. Go to http://www.freemix.com/
2. Create a profile.
3. Click on to the "Create" button at the top and your blank background will appear.
4. Click on the "Image Library" button on the right.
5. Click on "Background" on the top and choose a background. Resize as needed. If you are going to upload on Instagram, you might want to create a square background. Tag #30daycollagechallenge on Instagram.
6. After you have chosen a background. Switch to the "Cutouts" option at the top of your collage background. Add all of your collage elements until you are finished.
7. I like to leave the setting on "Random" on the sidebar at all times, as I love the mystery of creating an intuitive collage from what the program generates for me.
8. Choose and arrange 5-10 "Cutouts" to create a collage on your background. Your collages will save automatically on your profile. Or, collage all your imagery on a white background and choose your background at the very end.
Collaging Without Magazines
So many people ask me about ways to collage without magazines as they are getting harder to find. I tried digital collage and I am hooked. So spontaneous! So fun! So intuitive! So easy!
The collages I created for this free prompt series were made digitally on http://www.freemix.com/
Will you join me for 30 days of intuitive collage? Join the free prompt series HERE.