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How Art Therapy Can Help You Learn To Heal Your Soul

The first step? Be curious. 

The second step? Write down two or three forms of art therapy you want to explore. If you’re having trouble with this, try to think of some art activities you found yourself immersed in when you were younger. You can also switch this up, picking one thing you were once hesitant to try or didn’t have access to but want to/finally can.  

Tip: Canva is a great reference if you’re hesitant to invest in art supplies or an art class. Canva Free offers 250,000+ free templates and hundreds of design types, making it easier to geek out beyond Times New Roman and tap into your inner creative.

The third step? Consider that there are no steps at all. Art therapy is a vessel for experimentation, and the creative process is where you can express your raw, unspoken truth and envision a future beyond the present.

The final step? Stay curious and continue to return to what speaks to you. What may energize you one day may not your next session, and that’s okay. What offers a new perspective to someone else may fall gray to you and that’s expected. Just as no two crossroads in life are alike, your journey with the arts is uniquely yours.

Revolving from one activity to the other can help you understand what gives you the least/most joy, enriching your self-awareness, and possibly lower stress.

Poetry Is (My) Meditation

Five years ago, I was at the pit of my mental health. The bullying I faced during high school shook me up, paving the way to a trail of negative thought patterns and self-destructive habits. I sought therapy, which helped, but my mental health journey was going to be lifelong. Confronting the root of my hurt and learning about different coping techniques with my therapist was insightful, but I still had a lot of unlearning to do.

As a navigating student of life, I still return to creative writing.

Poetry is where I come home. It’s where I can confront the times, my times, or reimagine a subject matter through a fantasy lens. It’s my unapologetic hoard of clay, free-range at its core yet complex enough to challenge me to make the connection.

Poetry invites me to look again, exercising my mind and easing me into a state of reflection.

The Concept Of Mind Flowers

A few years into writing poetry, I was surprised to learn it was possible to feel new emotions for the person who wrote said titled poem four years ago. I would read an old poem and think, Did I actually write that? Why was I so upset over x/y?

As strange as it can be to revisit old writing, I acknowledge these feelings as a sign of growth. When I’m challenged by old mind flowers, I give my younger self patience because I am her flight. Her bird of new dawn.

Metaphorically speaking, the surviving thought patterns of the trauma were like tainted seeds, growing into tainted mind flowers I once let pass as a new normal. It’s easy to notice the beautiful mind flowers in our gardens, flush with new growth, but it can be easier to forget the why and how of a mind flower’s beginning. The initial uprooting (acknowledgment) of a negative mind flower is the first step, and every uprooting after that is each attempt you make to change out the soil (perspective) that provided it the life it needed to thrive.

Poetry helps me notice the same harmful mind flowers that made it difficult to come back to me. Through art therapy, I learned I can run a mile in a single poem. I can grow tired or upset while writing that same poem, crying in the end. Chest looser. Heart full. 

Even if art therapy isn’t your thing, the concept of mind flowers can be applied to daily life. 

Other Takeaways

Like poetry, other forms of art therapy—like collages, pottery, sewing, watercolor, or doodling—may help you bring to light the things you may not be able to confront just yet verbally.

Art can also be a safe space, allowing you to unload/document your today, yesterday, or many yesterdays ago. It’s not a sole or promised solution but a potential catalyst for self-discovery, self-love, and a newfound curiosity for the world. 

While your chosen art therapy may not be long-term, a single session may serve as a sacred place in time; a private 20 minutes or a whole hour where you make unintentional (yet, totally celebratory) leaps in your mental health journey.

These things that are new can bloom into an encouraging worldview. Art therapy prompts us to temporarily shift our focus, making it easier to unravel the complex, the complicated, and the uncomfortable. 

To heal with the arts is to get down with the untamed, and art is a meditation.