After many years of experimentation and study I have come to realize that the creative process can have profound restorative benefits for the body, mind and spirit of an individual. I have also discovered that you don’t have to expensive art supplies, excessive art training or to be the next Leonardo Di Vinci to reap the benefits.
Art at its core is a language—a nonverbal form of communication that allows us to express ourselves in an unguarded manner. This alone can be restorative to the system. But art when approached in an exploratory manner, not worrying about the outcome, it offers even more. It can be used as a centering tool allowing students that have either focusing problems or self-controlling issues to learn how to self-regulate themselves. For students that have performance issues, it can be a simple and effective tool that allows them to de-stress and purposely move their body and mind out of fight or flight reaction and into the calm critical thinking oasis known as the conscious mind. This is where growth-promoting learning and healing takes place.
It can also give them an opportunity to discover the uniqueness of their own mind. We need original thinkers to help solve the enormous number of challenges we all face. All of the arts are important because they help the student become comfortable exploring unknown in an natural manner.
Today’s pilot story:
“We worked on the “drawing sounds” lesson today… I wrote the sounds they gave me on the board. Some of the sounds they chose to draw were: dog crying, bird singing, wind, and mom yelling/nagging. Each time we closed our eyes to hear the sound before they started drawing from the experience. A number of students were willing to show their drawings and comment on the types of lines they found themselves drawing automatically whenever they felt either happy or sad.
Many students noticed that when they were feeling angry and upset their lines tended to be harder, darker, and straighter. They also noticed that when they were feeling happy their marks tended to be softer, more circular and lighter in color.
I encouraged them to use the activity outside of class to get out any upset feelings or simply to enjoy a good feeling more often. I definitely feel we’re making progress…”