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Healing with the Arts
Art and healing is the new healing skill to add to your tool chest to heal. Nutrition, exercise, mediation, and social support all help heal from disease, there are many research studies showing that these simple free interventions prevent and cure heart diseases, lengthen telomeres in cells to prevent aging, and prevent and treat many cancers.
Now we all have another powerful ancient and modern tool to heal – art. Visual arts, word, poetry, theater, dance, music, and ceremony all heal mental, physical and spiritual concerns. Art heals PTSD in veterans and women abused or victims of violence, art helps cancer patients deal with side effects of chemotherapy and with stress and attitude, art helps pain control, anxiety, phobias, and depression.
It's for you, a new powerful healing tool that you can use right now. So . . .begin making art today to heal what you need to heal in your life.
Hospital Arts in Medicine programs, programs with veterans, and medical and psychological research demonstrate that you can been helped by art, especially if you are a veteran with PTSD or anyone recovering from trauma, abuse or violence, cancer, or anyone with any physical illness, depression, anxiet, psychological problems, seeking spiritual growth or help.
Not only can you heal yourself, but art is now used to heal community, it has been used to: promote peace and stop war, unite people for freedom from oppression, heal communities from trauma, heal women all over the earth from violence. Art is a powerful tool for revolution, freedom, expression and social activism and change.
How art heals Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Research from Massachusets Institute of Technology, MIT, has shown how art heals PTSD. Memory is held in special cells in the brain. When these cells are stimulated, the memory is seen again by consciousness. When the cells are stimulated by remembering, they light up and the memory is felt again as live. But…. when the cells are stimulated by remembering and then a beautiful image is substituted into consciousness, the beautiful image becomes the memory in the cells, it replaces the old trauma memory. For example, if a veteran has a powerful memory of war, or if a woman has a memory of violence, and makes art of that image, the art replaces the traumatic memory. Now the memory becomes art and has new creative life. As the person makes more and more art, more beautiful memories actually replace the old traumatic ones. It is beautiful, transormative and wonderful.
That is why there are now hundreds of organizations making art with veterans with PTSD and woman who were sexually abused or victims of trauma.
Art is also used to help cancer patients and more than half of medical centers in arts and medicine programs., Shands Arts in Medicine, University of Florida Gainesville, Florida, and Art for Recovery at UCSF are powerful progams who use art in their cancer centers.
When I worked with the cancer retreats at Commonweal Bolinas CA. Michael Lerner called his patients approach to cancer a “Healing pie”. Each slice of the pie was one lifestyle choice to heal. One slice was nutrition, another exercise, another meditation, another making art, another prayer. Each person has their own healing pie.
Art heals you, others, community and the earth. Art is easy to do, free, and better unbelievably transformative. Anyone can use art to heal what they need to heal in their lives, to heal themselves, others, community and earth.
Michael Samuels, MD is the founder and director of Art As a Healing Force, a project started in 1990 devoted to healing yourself, others, the community and the earth with creativity and making art and healing one. He teaches Art and Healing at San Francisco State University, Institute of holistic Studies and John F Kennedy University. He is a bear dancer with the Chumash People three times a year, to heal people and the earth. He has used creativity, art, and guided imagery with patients with life threatening illness and life crises for over thirty years in private practice and in consultation. He lectures and does workshops nationwide for physicians, nurses, artists, and patients on how to use creativity and spirituality in healing. He has organized many nationwide conferences on creativity and healing and visited and participated in projects in hospitals where creativity, art and music are used with patients. He has networked people in the field together and is a recognized leader in art and healing. He is a sculptor and marble carver. He is the author of twenty one books including his latest release "Healing with the Arts".
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