Posted in art and healing, creativity and health

Feel The Beat

Welcome to Art and Healing Wednesday!!

Last night on NBC’s “The Voice” one of the contestants sang “Dog Days are Over” by Florence and the Machine.  The performance was riveting.  The vocals were terrific, the contestant utilized the stage, and she participated in the drumming with a group of drummers who were backing her up.  There was something quite primitive, not only about the use of the drum, but the particular beat in the song.  It had an almost hypnotic quality capturing my attention through the performance.

The drum beat has been incorporated in rituals probably since the beginning of time.  Shamans have used the drum during soul retrieval.  Native American ceremonies have used the drum for dance and marking important aspects of ceremonies.  If you look back throughout history you’ll see that the drum has been much more significant than merely the cool aspect of a rock band.

The beat of the drum mimics the heart beat.  It’s as if your heart is beating outside your body.  In rituals in can bring the group together in synchronistic breathing.  It becomes a thread that weaves between all involved in a ceremony.  It’s kinesthetic creating a body, mind, and spirit experience.  It can tell a story.  If you were to engage in drumming you would feel the beat course through your veins.  It would draw you in with its magical sound and gravity of its presence.

When you engage in an activity like drumming you personify the life force.  Having the ability to beat louder and harder creating a tension with sound allow for the release of that tension.  It’s reminiscent of holding on to negative energy in the body and allowing it to vibrate out of your body with the beat.  It’s a crescendo that can have long-lasting health benefits.  It’s emotive and expressive and on your journey to wellness that’s important.  Ultimate self-expression is one of the things that can certainly be a catalyst for health and healing.  Having the capacity and the willingness to engage the strength of the beat brings forth an energy that serves a catalyst for healing.

What happens when you hear a drum beat?  How might you use the beat of the drum in your own healing rituals.  Let’s share our drumming experiences and help promote health and healing!

Posted in art and healing, creativity and health

The Power of “The Voice”

Welcome to Art and Healing Wednesday!!

So you may be thinking that I’m going to talk about the NBC show “The Voice”, now wouldn’t that have been convenient.  Although I do enjoy the show, there’s another angle of our voices that’s even more impressive and scores big with me.  I like to sing and these days the only time I usually sing is in the shower or the car (sometimes I don’t end the call in my car and the person I was talking to gets a rendition of something I’ve been listening too…lucky for them, huh?)  I’ve always loved to sing.  I sang in choirs through high school and college and a community choir upon graduating from college.  I never wanted to be a singer, but I love the joy of singing something from the soul.

Eric Whitacre must feel the same way because he took the choir experience to new heights.  Although wanting to be a “pop” star, he became an American composer.  In his travels in the music world he put together a virtual choir of 2,052 voices.  It’s hard enough to get 40 or 50 people to sing together, on key, following a conductor, so doing it virtually is an amazing accomplishment.  It comes with the advances in technology and a great editor.

What Whitacre accomplishes is not only beautiful but inspiring.  What’s even more encouraging are the 2000+ singers who joined in the project.  Being a part of something so big from the comfort of your own home is amazing.  The final cut of the piece is moving and jaw dropping.  It takes creativity and perseverance to not only create such a work but to be able to share it with the world ignites a spark of possibility.

They say that there is strength in numbers.  Being a part of something bigger than yourself reduces isolation, something that many who face a chronic or life-threatening illness face following their diagnosis.  This is one of the reasons that support groups are so helpful; they bring voices and stories together that inspire the journey to health and healing.  You may not be a singing virtuoso, but your voice has power.  Your voice has the power to express yourself fully, powerfully, and convey a message to your body, mind, and spirit that you’re committed to getting better or well.

Please watch the link and experience the magic that Eric Whitacre has to offer then think about how you can use your voice for health and healing.  Who knows where our voices will meet!

Posted in art and healing, creativity and health

If Sarah Braverman Said It…It Must Be True

Welcome to Art and Healing Wednesday!!

I am continually astounded at the power of creativity.  Creativity is uplifting, life affirming, and definitely contagious (in a good way).  It reduces stress, improves decision-making and problem solving, and is just plain fun.  I don’t get to watch a lot of TV since I don’t have one here in San Antonio, but I can watch shows on the computer.  I’ve come to watch certain shows obviously for the story line, but also for the writing.  I’m intrigued at the thought process of the writers because they often write lines that are succinct and thought-provoking.

NBC’s “Parenthood” is in its second season.  One of the four children, Sarah Braverman, played by Lauren Graham (of the Gilmore Girls) is trying to find her place in the world.  She’s searching careers options.  One day she comes up with an idea that she gives to her brother, who works in a sneaker company and it’s a hit.  She’s praised for her creativity and decides she wants to explore this side of her world.  She asks her brother-in-law to build her a desk.  She says to him, “If I had a space to have ideas, maybe I would have more ideas.”

Isn’t that the most inspiring thing you’ve heard in a long time?  The idea that if we make room for something creative we can expand our possibilities.  We can cultivate an internal culture of growth.  It’s possible to create a domino effect in our body, mind, and soul for health and healing.  I want you to have more ideas.  I want you to find the opportunities to create and express yourself freely and openly.  When you begin to create you’ll find it becomes easier to create and the ideas will begin to spring up all around you.

I know that my own work changed considerably when I made one of the bedrooms in my home into a studio.  I’m a textile artist so I put a design wall about 8’x8′ so I can pin ideas to the board and get some perspective on what I’m creating.  I carry around my little notebook that I spoke about yesterday so I can capture inspiration anywhere and everywhere.  I have my camera in my backpack so it’s never far away.  I go through magazines looking for design possibilities.  I have different color pens in my backpack because writing in different colors opens the door to my heart and soul.  It provides a gateway for creativity.

Why is having “more ideas” important?  When you generate creative ideas you’re heart and soul is receptive.  You’ll experience less stress.   You’ll live a more authentic life because what you create will be real and honest, not something to please someone else.  You’re opportunity to create is only restricted by the committee in your head saying you can’t do it.  When you create and relieve stress, you allow the body’s natural healing capabilities to focus on getting better, instead of warding off emotions that don’t serve the greater good.

Take it from Sarah Braverman, find a place where you can create and let the health and healing begin!

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Aspects of Change

Change is tough, there’s no denying it; but is it impossible?  Do we only make changes in our lives when we’re challenged or put to a test?  What is it about change that’s so difficult?  Culturally many of us have been taught not to upset the apple cart, so to speak.  We’re taught to go with the flow, don’t make waves, and being good means following directions.  Those who invoke change are often labeled as rebels or mavericks, but is that true or are they (we) answering to a higher calling?

Facing a health challenge, whether chronic or life-threatening, forces change.  It requires that we alter some aspect of our physical, emotional, or spiritual lives both in thoughts and actions.  We’re mandated to make certain aspects of our lives obsolete for the greater good, our health.  Even with these mandates, some of us find it very difficult to make changes.  The easiest example is in weight management. 

If you watch the NBC show The Biggest Loser you may ask yourself how is it that a 30-year-old, 500+ pound man on medication, joint problems, and other health challenges hadn’t take the necessary steps to lose the weight?  The answer is clear; his Achilles heel wasn’t touched.  For many of us with a chronic or life-threatening illness, the diagnosis is the arrow in our Achilles heel, but it takes bigger measures for some.

After years of fighting high cholesterol, a side-effect of one of my medication, I finally joined a gym.  I didn’t want to do it and I’ve fought it every step of the way.  Why the shift?  I heard a quote this morning on The West Wing  that I believe sums it up beautifully, “Change come in excruciating increments for those who want it!”  I’ve wanted the change, but it meant accumulating enough of those increments to put it in action.

What will get you to move incrementally toward health and healing?  How can you accumulate enough incremental steps to notice a shift in your attitudes, behaviors, or beliefs?  When facing a health challenge we all want change, but what price are we willing to pay for it?  It’s no different from anything else in life, we have to work for it…so let’s get to work!