Medicine for the Heart
Healing Art

The human organism has many restorative mechanisms available to it, some more subtle than others. What science and religion have failed to cure, where prayer and therapy have failed to awaken the individual's natural healing response, art can activate the self-balancing process.

The appreciation of the arts involves both the analytical and the creative parts of the mind, the reductionist and the holistic. In stimulating the senses with such delights as colour, light, texture, symmetry, space, form and harmony - while simultaneously engaging the intellect with abstraction, narrative, logic, sequence, originality, rationality and focus - art brings both the emotional and cognitive into balance. Art is a potent medicine for the soul.

If one is involved directly in producing art then its healing effect is magnified, and both the creative and analytical portions of the mind are involved in a strongly integrative process. Art that involves physical effort - in particular the performing arts - has the additional benefit of involving the body in the process. Thus the integration becomes three way: body, mind and spirit.

Participation in the artistic process is particularly effective in dealing with pain, whether it be the emotional and spiritual pains such as those of trauma, anger, loneliness, regret, guilt, shame, longing, futility, entrapment and oppression, or even the body's physical pains. In a healthy and balanced way, art transforms constriction into vitality, pain into passion. As one goes deeper into art, not only the symptoms but many of the root causes of pain come to light so that they can be dealt with.

In our society we have a strong prejudice against the amateur artist. The media has exposed us to an explosion of professional content, and there seems to be a feeling that if you cannot reach that perfect standard then your work is worthless. But like sports, art is not intended only for the elite: the more that a person participates directly in artistic activity, the more profound will be her or his experience of not only professional and amateur art but of life in general.

Many people were exposed to the arts in grade school, perhaps through art class, band, choir, or theatre. Most communities have night class or personal tutors available to introduce and nurture artistic interests. With an openness to opportunity and a bit of courage - or a lot of pushing from family or friends - most people can find themselves involved in new or renewed artistic expression. It may be just what you need to put things right.


1. William Shakespeare, The Oxford
Shakespeare Complete Works:
Henry VIII,
ed. W. J. Craig
(London: Oxford University Press, 1905),
Act III, Scene i, Line 12.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.
The Inner Beloved ©2004 David J. Wilson
Updated October 30, 2004
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