What is Art Therapy ?
“Let Your inner child to be free, creative and healing.”
-Ayanna Holistic Therapy
Art Therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the Art Therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behaviour and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being. Practice as an Art Therapist requires knowledge of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological, and counselling theories and techniques.
Who benefits from art therapy?
Art therapy is practised in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, forensic, wellness, private practice and community settings with diverse client populations in individual, couples, family, and group therapy formats. Art therapy is an effective treatment for people experiencing developmental, medical, educational, and social or psychological impairment. Individuals who benefit from art therapy include those who have survived trauma resulting from combat, abuse, and natural disaster; persons with adverse physical health conditions such as cancer, traumatic brain injury, and other health disability; and persons with autism, dementia, depression, and other disorders. Art therapy helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviours, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight. Art therapy also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of art making.
“Every day be opened for something new, enjoy your life, and learn how to love yourself.”
Creative Mandala Painting & Intuitive Painting
The awesome process of developing You
These two ways of painting may be connected, or practiced separately. Both are amazing therapeutic processes which help unblock our creativity, as we release mental, emotional, or physical blocks and discover our own wisdom and power, which helps us create a better and more balanced life.
What is a mandala and what is unique about the mandala process?
Mandala is the ancient Sanskrit word for circle, and it symbolizes wholeness. It’s pretty simple, really, anything that shows up in circular form – whether it’s art, dance, or a slice of kiwifruit – can be considered as a mandala. What I love about them is the fact that they are so universal and can be found everywhere. In every part of the world, mandalas show up in the art work, nature, and cultural and spiritual history of a place.
Mandalas have been used in various spiritual traditions for spiritual teaching and meditative purposes. They have also been used for therapeutic purposes by psychoanalysts, most notably Carl Jung.
I love mandalas because they combine spirituality, meditation, therapy, creative process, and play, in one holistic circle. They help us slow our minds, process our complex thoughts, and shift out of our logical left-brains into our intuitive right brains.
They also have a strong feminine aspect to them, with connections to the womb and the birthing process, as well as to nature and Mother Earth. They ground and centre us and bring us back to the heart of who we are.
For me mandalas are like one dimensional labyrinths in which we take ourselves for a walk. Mandalas are intuitive and unpredictable. I welcome whatever shows up when I sit down at the page. Sometimes they’re playful, sometimes they reveal my shadows. Sometimes they have symmetry, and other times they are as random as the clouds in the sky. Always they are unique and deeply connected to whatever I’m going through at the time. And I love this process so much as it makes an amazing and powerful connection with our inner wisdom of light. And it always makes a transformation on our life’s path.
Some of the more regimented mandalas, that rely on specific symbols, follow certain rules and are closely associated with specific traditions, but my mandala process is intuitive and unique to each person who does it. I give you guidelines and support, but I rather try not to give you rules.
Someone told me once that I am like ‘a mandala midwife’, gently guiding people through the birthing process. I really liked it and it is like that. Though I provide guidance, support, and deep listening, it is up to you to put the necessary effort into the birth. I will encourage you through some of the pain of birthing, help you breathe deeply, and cheer you on when the baby emerges, but I can’t do the work for you.
“Intuitive painting is the practice of freeing your creative self.”
What exactly is intuitive painting?
And how is it different from other types of art?
Intuitive painting is a powerful spiritual and creative practice. And like all practices it requires a fierce devotion. It’s designed to transform your relationship to your intuition. To devote yourself to hearing it. To truly listening to it. To actually knowing when it’s speaking to you. To learning to tell the difference between your intuitive intelligence and your analytical/judging mind. And then to develop a solid allegiance to your intuition by following it and always doing exactly what it says. No matter what.
Intuitive painting is the practice of meditating with a brush in your hand. As you release your attachment to judgement and planning and some future goal, the practice allows you to open more to presence and spaciousness and self compassion. To the dream-time and the invisible realms. To a deeper connection with the spark of spirit and your innate divine wisdom.
Intuitive painting doesn’t teach you how to be creative. You don’t need anyone to tell you how to do that. But the practice shows you how to let go of things that get in the way of your full creative expression – like perfectionism, comparison and the need for external approval. It supports you in claiming the courage to explore and experiment, to make things up and take outrageous creative risks
Intuitive painting is also a commitment to deep soul work. To making what is unconscious conscious. To finding your medicine. To becoming more awake and alive. More whole. More real. More authentic. More you. To developing an unshakeable alliance with your inner wisdom and your inner healer. This happens through the process of devoting yourself to the practice of entering into intimate communion with the inner world of your heart, your mind and spirit. And then willingly opening yourself to everything that you find there. Not only what you want to see and feel, but embracing those qualities and experiences that stretch you beyond what is easy, comfortable and familiar. This includes things like profound joy, intense pleasure, radiant brilliance, wild freedom and mega-watt power. And holding all of who you are in an attitude of of radical self acceptance.
Intuitive painting is devoting yourself to trusting in the life force and in life itself. So many things about being alive are painful or difficult or scary. Or simply don’t turn out the way we want them to. And when we are confronted with those kinds of challenges our first impulse is to try to change or fix or resist them. Intuitive painting teaches us that there is a holy wisdom in allowing ourselves to be led and guided by whatever shows up on the page in front of us. To let go of the need for certainty and guarantees and open fully to the unknown. To trust in things like your personal rhythm and divine timing. That going towards and surrendering to what we normally try to avoid and control will allow us to become even more fully alive.
“Intuitive painting is the practice of devoting yourself to following the thread of your own creative genius, energy and aliveness. And creative genius, energy and aliveness is NEVER happy in a box.”
“The process of intuitive painting for its own sake is really the primary practice from which everything else in your artist’s life flows. Without gaining a solid grounding in your intuitive, creative self it’s way too easy to get swept up in the need to produce, to be understood, to be liked or successful and lose that connection to your own essential creative voice.”
” It is the miracle of learning to love. It’s the miracle of staying true to all of who you are.
It is the miracle of making the commitment to taking responsibility for becoming the creator of your own life. “
Both mandala painting and intuitive painting, are such beautiful creative processes. They are different and similar at the same time. I love so much to use both of them on my path of discovering my creativity, my inner truth, my inner wisdom, and that holy connection with myself and with the whole universe. I always find what I am looking for on this path of painting, even if it’s just the ‘simple’ process of getting out everything that is inside of me in the moment. The main difference between the processes is that with a mandala the process usually arises in a circle or around a centre, and usually it is full of symbols which have an important meaning – we are looking for that meaning and the answer to questions like why it is that some things are happening in our life now, what is the reason, and how may we work on them. It may be the kind of conversation with yourself which helps make it clear where you are right now. On the other hand, the intuitive process is a little like having fun with yourself, like starting to dance, and becoming a free child again, who just wants to express themselves, to have fun, who just needs to experience life.
So you usually just play with colours and with forms, you dance with them and just create what wants to express itself.
Usually now I make two separated workshops:
Mandala Intuitive Painting Workshop
Miracle Intuitive Painting Workshop
.….but I am a creative being and I like to change the form of my workshops. Which enables me, as well as the people who come to me, to develop the process of discovering the beauty of life.
You are welcome to come and join me if you wish and desire “to become the you that you were always meant to be” – if your heart is hungry to have all of the above. And so much more… 😉