When words fail but the need to heal or process looms large, we can turn to drawings as a mode not only of expression, but also as a superb healing therapy in and of itself.
The basics behind this process are simplicity itself. While thinking about some aspect we need to resolve or heal, we put pen to paper. The very act of taking what is cycling within us and placing it in front of us in a bold, honest scribbled essence is monumental. This simple act allows us to detach, to validate and to release all at once. We might spend anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes on any one drawing. We continue drawing – changing papers as we feel to, changing rhythms as we feel to – allowing our hands and heart to channel what is happening.
This is especially lovely if you have a visual nature, but anyone can do this since it is not about art; it is simply about free flow of expression. The resulting picture is a visual of our process and is something we may or may not choose to keep.
Can our anger, resistance, apathy, endless thought loops or our greatest fears be placed on paper, right in front of us? Absolutely, and the more we are able to process on paper, the more we heal. It can be a marvel to see how our subconscious both expresses the issue and then expresses a shift for the better.
Bringing our wounds, constructs and issues which are held tangled within other layers, such as our emotional layer, and placing them into our physical realm right in front of us via our drawings allows us to focus more successfully. And where we focus, with love, we heal.
Often we can also physically feel sensations or we may feel a new sense of calm or balance as we finish a drawing session. It is usually very clear from how we draw that we have moved our situation to a better state.
It Can Take Some Practice!
What I note most often is a timidity of expression the first time or two in using this type of art therapy, especially if you have been held back from expressing yourself due to stress or fear. If you have felt constricted in being able to communicate, it may take more than a few drawing sessions before you begin to let yourself express on paper. You will know when you are hitting paydirt because you will feel emotions or sensations come up as you draw.
If you find yourself not allowing a drawing to happen, close your eyes and focus on a visual of energy moving from you to your arm and out to the pen. Also, do not lift the pen up off the paper at all – you do not want to interrupt any flow that may be in process.
To do art therapy of this type successfully there is only one basic rule to keep in mind; turn off your left brain/ cognitive mind while in the process of drawing. No thinking, analyzing or slow thoughtful strokes allowed here!
You want to pick up your writing tool, whether a fat crayon or favorite pen, and just move it as you feel to. Absolute free-flow is the rule.
Access Your Emotions
Open to your emotional body and allow your emotions to come up and out. For example, if you are feeling intensity or anger wanting to express, the only way to do that is to hold your writing tool in a heavy grip (like a fist) and bear down on the page. You’ll be making very heavy lines and you may be making them in a spiky or sharp format on the page. While in the midst of this type of intensity allow yourself to keep making heavy lines until you feel as though you are ready to begin softening your strokes or loosening up your grip on your pen.
Change papers after you find yourself moving into a new phase of drawing; as you do this, realize that you have just processed through something successfully. You may choose to stop for a moment, tune into yourself and see how you are feeling. See if you can feel the release you have processed through. Go with your impulses to decide whether to start a new drawing or whether you feel done for the moment. If you are done, and you decide to keep your drawings, date them and label with what ever you were focusing upon while drawing. If there are several drawings for one subject, you’ll want to label them in chronological order.
You can gift yourself with one minute drawing sessions like these anywhere you have some solitude, or anytime you feel the need. In the middle of the night, on a long layover at the airport, even while you are in talk therapy sessions. Once you open up to allowing what is inside you to show up on the paper in front of you, you have successfully shifted your perspective. You have broken the negative loop. Whether a minute or 10 minutes , notice how you feel after you are finished with your drawing(s).
Chances are, after allowing your frozen energy/emotional loops to express and process, you’ll feel calmer, and you will start to see things in a more clear way. This can even open up physical issues, especially those caused by deep emotional trauma or stress. Our immune system is remarkably responsive to our subconscious emotional state.
If you have tried all the usual ways of healing and find them too slow or totally lacking for your unique set of issues, please do give this a try and let your subconscious do the healing job you require. I have yet to see anyone who did not find this to be helpful. In fact, sometimes this has paved the way for all the other therapies being used to come into better focus as well. It is extremely healing to take what is essentially an invisible issue and place it in front of you to work on it. This simple shift of perception creates a brilliant doorway for healing.
**Drawings are printed with permission and with my thanks