Anyone else feeling some feels? Anger? Confusion? Sadness? Outrage? Numbness? Overwhelm? Raise your cutie hands. Me too, by the way. Oftentimes when I experience mega emotions, they come out wonky or not at all. My hope is that each of us find some space to vent, share, discuss, and heal. BUT, if you are feeling frozen, I get it. That was the word, and sentiment I heard most this week in sessions. I would say 60+% of my clients reported feeling stuck, or frozen. So, let's take a look at what we can do to get unstuck.
In her latest podcast, Brené Brown, along with special guest Austin Channing Brown, shared that when we experience deep despair, our ability to swallow can be effected, making that thought of eating unfathomable. Doesn't that make so much sense? Deep despair might take away our natural instinct to feed, nurture, and care for ourselves. When I cannot make sense of what is going on for me, I often pull out paintbrushes, watercolors, and paper; I listen to music that matches my mood, and I find the right light, and let whatever happens, happen. Sometimes, it might just be blobs or scribbles...but those scribbles, and undefined shapes provide a space in which I can process those untapped feelings.
"I only ask of God, He won't let me be indifferent to the suffering..." -Outlandish
When I invite clients to engage in an art therapy exercise I typically hear, "Oh, I am so not an artist," or "Ok... this is going to be really bad." Dipping paint into water, and color that speaks to you is certainly not about producing something specific, or being "good or bad,"at it. In fact, your artistic prowess has nothing to do with who you inherently are as a human being. The moment the brush hits paper, your brain opens up to new concepts, ideas, and feelings you weren't able to access verbally. FYI - that is actual science. Let me just be Bill Nye for a minute... the lower two-thi rds of our brain stores big feelings and trauma. This area of the brain avoids harm, and seeks reward. But the tricky part is that there is not a language center in this part of the brain! So, words will do us no good. But, you know what will do us good? A sensory experience! Art. Music. Physical movement. Touch from another human. When my paintbrush hits the paper, I express all those things that are so stuck inside. And it is sacred, just for me. Let me give you a prompt to try...
Watercolors OR colored pencils, crayons, markers
Art Therapy 101 Exercise:
Take a deep breath...you got this!
Using a pen, (I like Micron pens), draw four boxes about the size of a playing card. Label boxes: "mood/feelings," "hopes/needs," and "free space."
Fill in each box. However you see fit. Sometimes, mine are literal. Other times, like above, a mix of colors, shapes, and written words. Let's start with the "mood/feeling" box. Allow yourself to be free, and open to let the art flow out. You might feel a little worried at first, or end up mixing a grey blob when you meant to paint a shooting star. No worries. It's about the process, not the product. Feeling stuck? Start with just a color. As you can see in the photo, my mood is simply expressed in green lines. I was feeling hopeful that day, interested, and motivated. Green felt like the right color, as did the sharpness of the lines. Here is a list of colors and meanings, but don't get hung up on this list. Any color can mean anything.
Spend some time with your piece. Sit with any discomfort. Sit with any joy. And remember, art is simply about the process. This is for you. Not for Instagram. Not for a local craft fair. Enjoy and let the art take you where you want to go.