Badal Suchak explains how art can heal us from within and take us to a higher level of consciousness
Being an Art and Design professional, I have innately been aware of the impact that an image has on the viewer’s mind. The subconscious mind is designed to understand visuals. Also, among all five senses, the sense of sight gathers maximum impressions from the environment and feeds it to the mind. It has been scientifically proven that eighty per cent of the impressions that our mind receives is through the sense of sight. Therefore, the visual aspect of our environment is of immense importance.
Visual creativity can be utilised in various ways. A graphics designer utilises it to respond to the commercial interests of a brand. A product designer, while designing, would predominantly focus on the functional aspect. A cartoonist creating daily strips on current affairs for a newspaper is tapping into the political angle of art. A fashion designer could be utilising visual creativity for pure pleasure. A digital UX designer would tap into the psychological aspect of the user. All the angles are valid and have their own significance.
The most important aspect of art, as per my understanding, is to utilise it to raise consciousness and to heal the human heart and mind. Light travels through the eyes into the human system and touches the core. Art touches the soul. This is the inward journey of art. The soul expresses itself creatively, flowing through the hands that create a work of art. This is the outward journey of art. Both, the inward journey and the outward journey, can be a spiritual experience and facilitate deep healing. This is the aspect I like to utilise in my Therapeutic Art sessions with my clients.
One doesn’t need to have any artistic skills to experience Therapeutic Art. It is just a spontaneous visual expression in various activities designed for deep inner healing.
Dropping inhibitions, dissolving boundaries: When I invite participants to dip their fingers or hands in paint and spontaneously paint on a large sheet of paper, they might, at times, hesitate to dip their hands in paint initially, but once the initial inhibition is dropped and the ice broken, they paint with exuberance and in a feeling of celebration. All of us have inhibitions and psychological boundaries, and it is a great joy to let them dissolve and express one’s self with finger painting and experience feeling healed with a renewed sense of openness to life.
Experiencing inner calm: Mandalas are essentially circular diagrams. They are found in art and architecture across various cultures of the world. They can be highly complex detailed geometrical diagrams which are used for contemplation and raising spiritual consciousness with a focal point at the centre of the mandala. However, for therapeutic art purposes, one can create one’s own simple mandala. The idea is to begin with a circle wherein you pour yourself out completely. The circle holds a sacred space as one empties one’s self out sketching and painting within it. It is a very cathartic process, which leads to experiencing deep inner calm.
Mindfulness: We begin by a simple guided meditation to come into the present moment and then spontaneously draw whatever images come to one’s mind with a completely non-judgemental attitude. Every line drawn, every colour picked, every movement of hand is done gently and with total awareness, like a Japanese calligraphy artist would execute. All expectations are dropped. One abides in pure witness consciousness. It is a deeply calming artistic mindfulness meditation. With regular practice, this art of mindfulness naturally flows into all other daily activities.
Healing specific psychological issues: Art therapy is a wonderful subtle transformational tool. One subconsciously imbibes insights in the process of creation and manifestation. Specially designed activities are administered for the transformation process. One of the tools is what I call ‘Alchemic Art.’ To begin with, one brings to conscious awareness one specific issue which has been mentally bothering them and has been stressful. Then holding that feeling, one paints and visually expresses the challenging situation. That itself is a cathartic process. Once that is done, it is overlaid with another painting, depicting positivity and change which one would like to see in the situation. This, done in the presence of the Therapeutic Art facilitator who is trained to guide you through the process, has a deeply healing effect and helps in resolving the issue. There are various other tools for facilitating transformation, reducing stress levels, and gaining deeper insights, which are administered as per the need of the client.
Creating Vision Boards: This helps when one needs clarity in their personal or professional life. At times, we have many ideas but are not very clear about them, leading to fragmented and scattered energy. At such times, creating a vision board helps immensely. One can either draw, paint, or cut out images from magazines, which depict our aspirations and vision. As one begins creating a collage of images of one’s vision on a large chart paper, one’s energy naturally begins to focus. One gets a holistic perspective of one’s life goals. Positive actions can be planned along with timelines and milestones to achieve these goals. Vision boards make one feel empowered, and one can achieve desired goals and success in one’s personal or professional life.
Visual Affirmations: Positive verbal affirmations help in training the subconscious mind for self-empowerment and achieving success. Verbal affirmations become even more powerful if one creatively writes them down with the use of specific colours and patterns. These visual affirmations can be framed up and displayed in one’s home or workspace to constantly generate positivity in one’s mind, helping in achieving desired goals.
Social Integration: Some of us are introverts and find it difficult to connect and communicate with others, experiencing loneliness. This is especially true for people spending too much time on digital social media. For such cases, creating art in pairs or groups works wonders. I usually take the group for a nature walk, and we collect fallen dried leaves, twigs, flowers, berries, pebbles, etc., and get into pairs or groups to create mandalas, utilising this material collaboratively. This gently helps in bonding, and, subconsciously, one learns to understand each other, make the best of one’s resources, and cooperate with one another, ultimately resulting in a warm social integration. These people bond so well that they continue to be friends even after the workshop.
Gratitude: Research shows that gratitude is one of the most positive attitudes which dissolves all negativity. The idea is to bring to conscious awareness all the wonderful gifts in your life and revel in their positivity. Taking a step further, if one expresses gratitude for what one is seeking in life in a manner that it has already happened, then it creates a conduit of positivity attracting the manifestation of that gift. In Therapeutic Art, I invite participants to create a ‘Lotus of Gratitude.’ In the centre, one visualises one’s self, and on each petal, one writes what one is grateful for. More and more gratitude petals are added, to which there is no limit. Ultimately, a large fully blossomed magnificent lotus is created. It changes one’s vibrational state instantly to a highly positive one.
Sacred Geometry: The ancient seers were very evolved beings who had visions of various complex geometrical energy diagrams or yantras in their meditations. These yantras are divine gifts to humanity and can be utilised by us to meditate upon to achieve specific states of consciousness or for intentional manifestation with prayers and rituals.
One can also learn to intuitively create one’s own sacred diagrams utilising geometric patterns. Every shape, whether it is a dot, line, square, circle, polyhedron, or pyramid has its own energy pattern and purpose. It is a deep spiritual science requiring detailed study.
Trance Painting: Paintings created while the artist is in a meditative trance are the highest gifts that an artist can offer to this world. Alex Grey is one such artist who has created transcendental artworks depicting chakras, energy meridians, and aura visible beyond the physical body. It takes the viewers beyond the veil of the material world and holds a sacred mirror, inspiring them on their spiritual journeys. This is the highest form of art depicting evolutionary consciousness.
Holistic approach: All the senses can be involved while expressing one’s self creatively. One can play inspirational music, light a fragrant candle, and involve breathwork and bodywork while creating intuitive art. This can lead to a holistically integrated approach.
It is a deeply fulfilling experience to see how Therapeutic Art helps in dissolving boundaries, experiencing inner peace, developing mindfulness, healing specific psychological issues, developing a vision for life, inculcating gratitude, social bonding, and, ultimately, in raising consciousness.
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