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Art & Wellness

May 7, 2015

mandala

As an integrated behavioral health program tasked with providing wellness events for members of rural communities, Vista Hill SmartCare has recently begun to include art along with yoga, mindfulness, nature and other activities.  Our hope has been that with the addition of art, we could offer additional avenues for folks to experience emotional and physical health.

Whether offering these activities with children or adults, the first hurdle is moving past the worry that one must have some sort of artistic “talent” in order to benefit from participating in art activities.  But in our experience, once we do so, the benefits are great.

At the crux of SmartCare is a holistic approach to wellness, incorporating mind, body and spirit.  We support the mindset that emotional health supports physical health, and vice versa.  The idea of art as medicine has been embraced throughout the ages, and more recently, a growing body of empirical studies and anecdotal evidence suggesting that the arts of all kinds, including music, dance and the visual arts, are healing, and are being integrated into all sorts of healthcare settings.

I have written here previously about the importance of health/wellness and stress management.  One of the biggest benefits of incorporating art into one’s life is for the management of stress: the act of creating is mindful, and it can help you to find balance in your daily routine.

One of our favorite activities to introduce to Wellness participants is the creation and/or coloring of Mandalas, which have been used throughout history for meditation and healing. “Mandala” comes from Sanskrit, meaning “circle”, and represent the Universe.  Mandalas were first used in therapy by Carl Jung, who found that the act of drawing mandalas had a calming effect on patients while at the same time facilitating psychic integration. Whether creating original Mandalas from found materials, drawing them from imagination, or coloring printed Mandalas, we receive highly positive feedback from participants in these activities.

Although we are not certified Art Therapists, we have found incorporating art into our Wellness Activities to certainly be therapeutic.  Participants report that engaging in the creation of art reduces stress and anger, and express appreciation for the empowering benefits, as it is used as a means of self-expression.

As we assist others to become re-connected to their natural creative impulses, our own joy meets and exceeds theirs!  As we look forward to continued partnerships with community art teachers and instructors, we anticipate further beauty, health and wellness in all of the communities in which we serve.

And here is some amazing inspiration for you:  Blind man paints

Pamela Sachs, LCSW

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