Art therapy sounds fun to most of us. Oftentimes, I believe we imagine colorful paintings and even coloring books with cool mandalas. Some people use it to calm anxiety or deal with their depression while others use it as a hobby. What I’d like to explore today is actually a bit different from those two. Although similar in nature, what I’m about to show you is much more interesting and meaningful in that you get a chance to get a better look at your true self you never have seen before.
I already know what you are thinking. “I suck at writing” and “I hate writing” are often people’s go to when they hear about writing as a means to express themselves or release stress. However, I’d really like to challenge that thinking and invite you to see it from a different angle. Although we can’t help but have this idea that we must write so perfect, that is not true when it comes to writing as a therapy.
In my opinion, writing in terms of art therapy means to use writing as a tool to embrace all that is on your mind and heart. Whether conceived good or bad, we don’t allow discrimination in our writings. We allow ourselves to have that freedom and acceptance for our emotions and fully embrace them with mindfulness as we write. The purpose of it is not to have a perfectly rhymed poem nor intellectually articulated words. Rather, it is to remove our views of discrimination against our own thoughts and feelings so that they have a chance to be expressed and therefore embraced with our mindfulness. Even better, we give ourselves a chance to explore what is truly on our mind and heart. As we write, it is not surprising to find ourselves with an emotion or thoughts that we never once recognized before. This provides us with a new opportunity to truly meet ourselves through our own writing and accept who we are. While it is suitable to release some anxiety and stress, writing can also be sort of like this magic place or even a portal where you can go to meet your new true self.
***I personally use Mirakee app on my phone to create and design my poems because it allows me to share my poems with the world.
The image here on the right is one of the poems I created with Mirakee, and you can download your own image from the app this way and share it on your favorite social media as well. ***
Did you know that you can paint without having prior knowledge or experience? Although it is nice to be able to get the proper training and education to paint a perfect oil painting, it is not an absolute must for one to start painting today especially if the purpose is to provide yourself some art therapy. Painting is a unique art platform in that you get to use those beautiful colors to express your complex emotions. It is fun, relaxing, and even exciting. What I do love about painting as a form of art therapy is that your art does not have to look a particular way to be appreciated because that actually supports what we’re trying to accomplish with our inner emotions and conflicts. We remove the “should” from the art and indirectly even ourselves so that we allow space for ourselves to be fully mindful of everything without discrimination. A bonus is that you get to create your own beautiful art and decorate your home with them! With painting, you never know what is going to come out from your emotions. Because of this, it is not only exciting, but it is also a great tool to discover what is really inside a beautiful mind and heart of yours.
***Despite popular beliefs, art supplies are not as expensive as you would think. I get my canvas pack from Amazon for about $26.99, which comes with 24 pcs of various sizes. I like canvas packs like this one because you can play with painting a small one to a larger one depending on your mood and creativity. And when I decorate my house with them, different sizes look way better in general and artistic on the walls. Other painting supplies like the actual paint and brush, you can also either get them at a fairly reasonable price on Amazon or Hobby Lobby. You can spend about a little less than $30 and get the whole set of brush, paint, canvas, etc. ***
Much like painting, drawing also does not always require any prior knowledge. Think of when we were kids. We used to draw things like who and what we loved like our mothers and ice creams. Looking back, I can see that the action of drawing somehow served as a way of practicing gratitude and nurturing our positive elements like hope and joy.
Even as adults, we can still tap into those childhood memories and benefit from drawing again. But this time, with more mindfulness and concentration. If we are hopeless, we might imagine and draw a safe or happy place. Using mindfulness, drawing can help you use your energy and focus on the right object.
Another idea for the drawing, which I personally do often is to draw your core values or belief that you want to nurture. It could be self-love, compassion towards yourself, and acceptance. I often write a message with it and put up on the wall where I get to see it every day. This way, every time I see it I get to take a moment to meditate on it, and it helps me practice proper concentration on the things that actually help me.
Yes, music! As we all know, music is a magical thing, and it helps us explore and express ourselves in ways that are empowering. Outside of arts, we tend to live in such ways where we’re so caught up in the idea of who we think we are and even who we think we should be. That very notion can be in the way as we try to cope with our difficult emotions, life events, and even mental illnesses. Through music, we get to validate our emotions and even celebrate them without discrimination. I love that about music. For example, we tend to label anger or sadness as “bad”, and we do our very best to either suppress or ignore them. With music, we have an opportunity to bring up that anger without judgment and give it a chance to sort of speak its story. When fully accepted with our understanding and embraced with mindfulness, that emotion now slightly loses its power each time because we took great care of it instead of shoving it away. There is a beauty in being able to recognize and embrace each emotion without making them either good or bad. When we practice doing this often, we cultivate acceptance, self-compassion, and a chance to restore inner peace.
There is a much great appreciation for all kinds of arts. They are beautiful, powerful, and inspiring. Although it is nice to be the observer to appreciate those arts and other people’s creations, it can also be much more fulfilling to explore and experience them as you being the artist. Arts alone are amazing and therapeutic. However, using mindfulness with art therapy brings about much more than just relaxation. Because mindfulness allows us to accept things for what they are just as how they are, we are able to reconcile with our own inner conflicts, which then allows us to start healing. So, next time you get a chance to do some arts, don’t be too quick to shut it down and maybe try seeing it as an opportunity to go meet yourself.