in depth


Draw It, Heal It

Art and Wholeness

The word health originates from Old English and Germanic origin, meaning: wholeness, being whole, sound or well. Art therapy and wholeness go hand in hand, as author Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D, notes in her book, "Healing Your Life with Art." Healing through creative expression, she says, “invites you to love and understand your whole self – body, mind and spirit.”

The connection between art and mental health was first recognized in the late 1800’s. A book, entitled "The Artistry of the Mentally Ill," aroused interest in the subject and caused the medical community to realize that art might be valuable for rehabilitating patients with mental illness. In the 1940’s, ideas from psychoanalysis and art were combined to develop art as a tool to help release unconscious thoughts. In 1969, the American Art Therapy Association was formed to set standards for art therapists. Art therapy offers positive healing results in burn recovery, eating disorders, emotional impulses of young children, reading performance, grief, depression, addiction, pain control, post-traumatic stress syndrome and social function.

Here is a simple technique you can use to work on a challenge you may be having in your life: Begin with a blank sheet of paper and a box of crayons, colored magic markers or ink pens. Sit with a straight spine, hands on your thighs. Relax your shoulders, close your eyes, mentally focus at your forehead and visualize your challenge or concern as though you are the observer, watching from outside yourself. Take long, slow deep breaths through your nose for one minute. Then, briefly hold in the breath for 3 seconds. Exhale, hold the breath out 3 seconds. Inhale again, holding the breath 3 seconds, then exhale. Next, grab a crayon and start to draw without judgment or thinking. If inclined, change colors or grab another page. There’s no time limit.

When you finish drawing, repeat the breath and visualization process. Notice if anything has changed in the visualization of your challenge. If you like, draw a second picture to compare with the first. Save the art or dispose of it, with the intention of clearing the mind. Do this twice a week for a month – and discover that healing truly does begin from within.

Hari Bhajan Singh Khalsa, D.C. 
Khalsa Health Care

 Recommended: Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul by Shaun McNiff


Andrea Beaudoin commented on 18-Oct-2010 05:44 AM5 out of 5 stars

Great article! I love the idea of using art to heal This sounds like a great exercise-can't wait to try it!

Dana commented on 23-Oct-2010 08:35 AM3 out of 5 stars

Drawing most certainly heals, I can attest to that!

Return to Article

Navigate Your Day with Grit & Grace

Get a Free Yogi Lifestyle e-Mint, Plus a Twice-Monthly Musing Delivered to Your Inbox