Having trained as both an artist and an holistic therapist, I have no doubt that colour, form and light have a profound effect on us, that images play a vital part in healing and that beauty is restorative.
Research has shown that our immune systems are boosted by the sense of wonder we may experience at the beauty of nature, spirituality and art. Neural networks in the brain have been shown to respond to harmonic principles. And if we so choose, the process of making art can be a means of devotion. We can connect to a higher consciousness and to healing energies through meditation and creativity.
“The soul never thinks without a picture.” Aristotle
Art can help to awaken us and through it, we can express things that cannot be communicated in any other way. Human beings, although not always aware of it, do long for harmony and balance. Beauty of itself restores and heals and we can practise being available to its presence.
Tapping into the life force that runs through nature and expressing our response to the beauty around us is restorative. Beauty is everywhere, always, if we can but notice. We may find it elusive and we may shut ourselves off from it at times but it is vital to our inner wellbeing.
“The aim of all education is to teach us to love beauty.” Plato
I know that when we have been laid low or feel broken, we can be helped back to life by beauty and it may come out of the blue. Once, when I was feeling desperate, I drove past a field where bales of hay were lined up in rows, wrapped in black polythene and prepared for silage. Suddenly, bright sunlight struck the black plastic and the light sparkled, making the field look as though it was filled with huge diamonds.
It was so magical that it propelled me out of my anxiety in an instant and reassured me in some simple and unfathomable way. Beauty can appear instantly and reconnect us to our own deeper nature. I’ve never forgotten how those mundane black bin bags lit up to help me in that moment, instantly soothing my troubled mind!
To soothe a wound and promote healing, we may apply ointment. An old word for ointment is ‘salve’ and it used to carry the meaning of ‘to make good’ or ‘ to harmonise’. Art may be seen as a ‘salve’ and it can help to heal old wounds and bring momentum to our recovery from dis-ease. It can play an important part in restoring harmony to our energy field.
The word ‘salve’ is connected to ‘salvage’, which is to do with recovery. Creative work often involves ‘salvaging’, as we retrieve and reclaim memories or rescue lost parts of ourselves. It can support healing and ease a pain or lighten a burden.
In all creative activity, whether telling stories, making images and music, singing songs or dancing, we may sift through the salvage, the wreckage and the remnants of our experiences, to escape from our self-imposed limitations and to fashion something hopeful or beautiful. In our art work we can connect to a sense of play and wonder and access an inner wisdom. We can take leaps of imagination and discover new possibilities.
“Salve’ is also linked to ‘Salvation‘, which carries a sense of ‘deliverance’ or a ‘means of escape’. What we are escaping from is the restricted and dysfunctional world we have previously created for ourselves. Art throws us a lifeline and can help to save us, as aspects of the past are released. The process of transforming our sorrows can be placed on view through art and this can be of value to others.
Picasso said: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
There are other ‘salves’ that are restorative, such as the silence and stillness found in meditation. By engaging with both meditation and art practice, we can rally our creative energy to de-clutter our minds and emotions, propelling us out of disharmony.
Meditation and making art can be combined to bring new understandings and strengthen our energy systems. When our creativity arises from a meditative place we can bring a healing energy through from our inner world into the outer world. Intuition can guide the work and our relationship with the materials, so that pictures emerge from the invisible, to enter into the visible world.
Inner images carry power and help us to restore harmony to our lives. This is vital work, as we are increasingly surrounded by acute disharmony and need to work to sustain positive energy. It is not difficult to see the opposing forces at work in the world and the disconnection, which is everywhere on display.
As our meditations and our creative work connect us to the intuitive realm, we may begin, individually and collectively, to see afresh and to imagine and to construct a ‘brave, new world’.