From finger-painting to intricate landscape portraits, Lady Gaga to Chopin, art provokes spiritual wellness. Even before hospitals hired musicians to perform for traumatized veterans during the First and Second World Wars, people have been using art—extensions of the human soul—to cultivate positive changes within themselves and relations with the outside world. While some of us are recovering from an eating disorder and some of us are wounded from a lost love, these difficult experiences develop our unique preferences and deeply connect us to people, images, and sounds, exuding a common struggle or hope. Therefore, we do not need any particular musical or artistic ability to benefit.
Explore personal feelings
Spiritual healing requires harmonizing the many aspects of being human—gifted with the ability to experience and create. Art generates personal exploration through self-expression or delving into one’s spiritual agony with listening or seeing. Channelling art solidifies how outside sources impact our life. Self-expression reveals the sources of personal struggle, examining who or what situations spark spiritual discomfort. By discovering the hindrances of wellness, we have the potential to avoid or manage such triggers in the future.
Meanwhile, creating a new masterpiece transforms inner rage, pain, or emotional baggage into something tangible. Hopes and fears can be transcribed for the first time, feelings that shouldn’t be ignored or suffocated. Rather, these basic human feelings can be managed and celebrated through creativity. In this sense, self-expression serves as a simple reminder of the healing process.
Even if we do not have the technical ability to write a ballad or paint a self-portrait, most of us can use our senses to connect the emotion or content of a piece to our own struggle. We all know a song that reminds us of our childhood best friend; we all know an image that provokes happiness or guilt. After all, we’re all connected through art despite our varied skill levels.
Make positive changes in confidence and mood
Art’s facilitation of self-esteem and stress-reduction potentially allows everyone to work through any source of spiritual trauma. Something as simple as learning the words to a meaningful song or hanging your drawing on the refrigerator generates self-esteem. Starting and completing any task, and experiencing the finished product, produces an irreplaceable sense of productivity and worth. Likewise, after studying or creating a piece, we can enjoy the product and share it with loved ones. As stated in Into the Wild, “Happiness is only real when shared.” For this reason, it’s important to share our gifts with others because we all have the ability to be touched and spiritually uplifted through the universal languages of art.
Sense of control
The life-affirming pleasure of experiencing art constructs a sense of control, especially in a time of disillusionment or disease. Although art connects people, it can also administer a sense of independent thought and actions. Away from appointments, away from family stress, away from society’s expectations, connecting with art puts the individual in control. No one can enforce what can be listened to, what colours are permitted, what should cultivate inspiration—the quest to spiritual wellness is an individual journey in this sense. Art provides control in a chaotic world.
However, the new orientations of time and location in visual and performing arts offer another source of independence. New depictions of the past, future, and even location, enable us to temporarily escape our social bubble. Entering alternate realms allows us to realize a world beyond our personal struggles, disease or agony. Art creates a safe space for anyone to temporarily escape from his or her own head into a meditative state where inner peace is possible. Art forms generate spiritual wellness with their ability to create alternate mindsets controlled by the viewer, listener or composer.
We all interact with art on a daily basis. However, few stop and think how these forms of expression not only look pretty or have a danceable beat, they also provide spiritual wellness. By meditating to a soulful guitar solo or creating a sculpture of your adoptive mother, art cultivates both independence and connection to others. Although individual mental states can be tamed through art, people all share a common bond through experiences and emotion. Creating a masterpiece for your personal spirituality has the potential to create inspiration among those with whom it is shared.
by Alexandria Bean
image: VOJTa Herout (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA)