One of the areas where I seem to be placing most of my focus these days is the relationship between creative expression and healing. Something that I have always found to be particularly fascinating is the fact that the words heal, whole and holy all come from the same Latin root. (Check it out!)
What this says to me is that the idea of disease, is just that--dis-ease, being off center, out of sync. And to heal therefore, means the opposite--to be whole again, to somehow restore or recapture the whole, "holy" aspect of our nature--that part of us that is in touch with and expresses the divine, creative spirit that lives within us all.
So, to me creativity and healing are really one and the same. Taking that which is within and expressing it outside of ourselves is one of the most powerful processes available to reduce or even eliminate dis-ease and in so doing, regain our wholeness, health and divinity.
Frida Kahlo, the Mexican Painter (1907-1954) is a perfect example. Not only was she stricken with polio at the age of six, but was later seriously injured in a bus accident at age 18. Her body was almost entirely crushed and she spent the rest of her life in and out of hospitals, undergoing 30 operations, bedridden for long periods and in tremendous pain. Only her strength and will to live (and in my opinion, her painting) allowed her not only to survive, but make a remarkable recovery.
Frida began to paint shortly after her accident because she was bored being in bed. Painting then became her lifelong passion and profession. She expressed all of her emotions on the canvas. In particular, she painted the anger and hurt she felt over her stormy marriage to the infamous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera and the suffering she experienced throughout her life because of her accident.
"I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration."
"My painting carries with it the message of pain.....Painting completed my life.....I believe that work is the best thing."
To me one of the greatest expressions of the healing aspect of creativity was Frida's appearance at her one and only exhibition in Mexico in the spring of 1953. Her health was extremely poor at that point and she was advised not to attend.
But in her inimitable style, nothing was going to stop Frida, especially from attending a party in her honor. She arrived at the exhibition by ambulance and was then taken by hospital stretcher and placed in her bed in the middle of the gallery. True to form, she told jokes, entertained the crowd and sang and drank the entire evening.
At that exhibition, Frida told reporters, "I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint."
SUSAN SCHANERMAN, M. Ed., is a multi-talented author, artist, speaker, consultant and creativity coach. She is creator of CreativeSuccessWorks, a company that specializes in coaching, training and educational programs and merchandise aimed at uncovering and reclaiming one's creative power.
She has authored two books,God is Color http://www.godiscolor.com and Play or Pay: 77 Ways to Have FUN or Suffer the Consequences and End up Paying the Price http://www.playorpayonline.com
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