How and Why a Picture really is worth a thousand words...
How sometimes the best way to “express” is through creating art from the heart! ♡
Guest post by Amanda Evans, Mind Body Soul Miracles
Drawing, painting, creating. We often think that these are just meaningless ways of spending our time or of “playing” just for the sake of playing. But the thing is, these drawings, paintings and creations hold so much meaning. And not only that, but they hold great potential to show us the things we need to know, the things that are going to help us move forward and they deeply hold the truth.
More than that, our pictures, our drawings and our creations hold memories, meanings, and the tools to give us the insight to what will help us and heal us moving forward. No matter the problem, spending time drawing, painting or creating can always help us find another way - and oftentimes when we play just for the sake of playing, we create the space to feel the feelings that are coming up and also create space for feeling the feelings we want to feel.
The *feeling* is the key to our creations. How do we feel when we are making a picture, creating a new masterpiece or starting a project from scratch?
Are we scared, nervous, afraid of starting because we want it to be PERFECT? Or do we have fun with it, with every little step we take, being at peace with not knowing how it will turn out but designing it with love, with joy and with intention? The drawings, paintings and things our children create remind us of the way we can approach life. With more curiosity, with more excitement, (with a lot less pressure and seriousness) but the feeling that only comes from crayons in the colours of the rainbow, paints, STICKERS in hand. With this, we can go from a simple blank piece of paper and turn it into a masterpiece!!!
The thing is the way we paint, the way we draw, the way we choose to create...is the way we do just about everything in life. What our attitude is towards our creations, is likely showing us what our attitude is towards our current life...and most importantly our attitude towards ourselves.
Do we judge our drawings? Do we love our drawings? Do we listen to what our drawings are telling us? Do we judge ourselves do we listen to our own wants/needs?
That’s the interesting part. Our drawings, paintings and creations hold an untold story. Our untold story. And we can find a way to express it, through art! The thing is:
“95 percent of brain activity is beyond our conscious awareness. Numerous cognitive neuroscientists have conducted studies that have revealed that only 5% of our cognitive activities (decisions, emotions, actions, behaviour) is conscious whereas the remaining 95% is generated in a non-conscious manner.”
It’s this “stuff” that has accumulated within us over the years that is running the show. But until our “stuff”, our subconscious beliefs, thoughts, feelings, fears come up to be seen, we just keep following it and making choices on “auto-pilot”. And the gift of drawing, painting and creating is how we create the “space” for the “stuff” to come up.
There is an incredible book called “Love, Medicine and Miracles” written by Bernie S. Siegl. He used drawings in his work with patients who had cancer and other complicated diseases and actually had them use crayons, blank paper and their drawings to understand and determine the best course of action for treating them.
The process was fascinating and it really told so much about the patient, how they are currently relating to themselves and to their “state of being” (whether that be seeing themselves as “sick”, as “well” or as capable of actually healing). The most beautiful part of our drawings, paintings and creations is that out of “nothing” we can create the life we actually want. We have the choice to create what we want!
We have the choice to change the story but until we know the story we are constantly creating, until it becomes CONSCIOUS, we cannot see it, and make those conscious changes.
So first we draw. First we listen. First we see what’s holding us back.
In Bernie’s book, he showed many pictures that his patients drew. These are some examples:
These were the only instructions he gave to his patients:
On a white sheet of paper, held vertically, draw a picture of yourself, your treatment, your disease. Please have all the colours of the rainbow, brown, black and white available to you and use crayons.
On a separate sheet of white paper, held horizontally, draw another picture or scene in colour using crayons.
You may also choose to draw an additional picture of your home and family, as well as additional images such as a tree, boat, or bird, etc.) that may call forth further significant material from the unconscious. Pictures relating to conflicts or choices, such as a job or impending surgery, may also be important.
He talked about how “ when we communicate in visual images, we tell the truth, because we can’t manipulate the language as well. This is a language of the collective unconscious.”
The symbols, colours and stories we create through our drawings can tell us a whole lot about ourselves, about our current challenges, what’s holding us back from living our “truth” and also hold deeper meanings that are personal to us.
Something I love about working with families and watching children draw is that they completely tune into the messages that come through, using their whole body to tap into the feeling. They are not in their heads, they are “in the BEING” of being in the creation mode. They are painting, drawing or creating with their whole self (mind, body and soul)!!
When a child is creating something, they are not thinking about what they “should” create, what they need to do later in the day or all the things/people they are worried about. They are IN the moment and the present moment is where the magic happens! This is the idea behind healing through PLAY and healing through ART!
When we stop looking at the “problem” and start focusing on the *feeling* of how we want to feel, healing becomes possible! The words that we weren’t able to access before suddenly become easier to share. Something happens when we stop “stressing”, our brain and our body have a chance to find their “homeostasis” again.
The part of our nervous system (“sympathetic”) is activated when we are stressed, when there is a lot of trauma and it turns on more neurochemicals that get our brain/bodies ready to “fight” that imaginary saber tooth tiger. Like the saying goes, when we are in that state, we go into “fight or flight”. We either want to “fight”, “survive” in the moment and do everything we can or we take off, we want to run (...that’s the “flight” part). We want to get away from the “thing” that is scaring us.
But when we STAY AND PLAY, when we create and focus on the present moment, we heal!
As opposed to constantly focusing on our stressful thoughts, worries and feelings in our minds, we can focus on what IS already working, what IS bringing us joy and what we want to create moving forward. We focus on a new “state”. AND we can also focus on things that bring us back to a state of LOVE, JOY, SILLINESS, PLAYFULNESS...all things that we can feel and thus change the state that our brain/body is used to living in. Sometimes simply remembering something that held a lot of meaning can bring us right back there.
What pictures did you or your child draw that hold a lot of meaning? Or what held a lot of meaning in your life that comes back whenever you see a certain picture?
Bernie Siegl also spoke of the “personal meaning” of our drawings and even the symbols we use in our drawings. There are some symbols that can hold meaning on a universal level. For instance, Siegl spoke of butterflies and rainbows and what they symbolize.
“In dreams, mythology, and art, the rainbow is a symbol of hope and a manifestation of our entire emotional spectrum and life. The butterfly is a universal symbol of metamorphosis, a change from ugliness to beauty, from hate to love, and from this life to the next.”
But for me, butterflies and rainbows mean that but also hold a personal meaning. I have always told myself “the bigger the storm, the brighter the rainbow”. So whenever I am in a challenging moment, a conflict that feels insurmountable or feeling a really BIG FEELING, I come back to my rainbow. Knowing that this is where the magic lives. That the storm will pass and the rainbow comes back.
I also know that for a friend, a butterfly holds a completely different meaning. Someone she loves calls her butterfly and so that symbol simply brings her back to the love she feels. And love is the most healing frequency of all. So coming back to the symbols and moments that bring back the feeling of love is a beautiful place to be.
The butterfly reminds me that I can spread my wings, that there are cycles in life. Sometimes we need to cocoon and rest, sometimes we might feel small or go inwards before we EXPAND really big and then we start again! That everything we do comes in cycles and just like nature, we can’t expect ourselves to show up the same every day.
“Nothing in nature blooms all year. Be patient with yourself.”
“Nature never hurries yet everything is accomplished.”
For me, this picture reminded me that we are all unique. We are all our own “flowers”, that bloom in our own time. We all need what “we” need in order to thrive. So what one flower needs might be different than another and it’s in listening to what the “flower” needs and making sure its wants/needs are getting met that the flower continues to grow, bloom and flourish. When it’s nourished, it will flourish! I think it was the reminder from my own subconscious to take as much time as I need, as much rest as I need and remember to be ME, not another flower. Because I’m my own flower!
FLOWERS! Another beautiful symbol that can represent many things and also lots of flowers hold spiritual or healing meanings too. Like for instance, the sunflower can represent the solar plexus and support this chakra in healing. It is also associated with the colour yellow. This is around our stomach (which can be linked to our digestive system too). This chakra (energy centre) is all about standing in our power, trusting ourselves and having courage to listen to our own inner guidance. It is about confidence! So thinking of a sunflower can help us to strengthen this! (All that by just thinking of a sunflower or the colour yellow!? HOW FUN!)
Or the colour BLUE can be associated with speaking up for yourself, speaking your truth and having courage and protection too! Whereas the colour green is all about our heart, compassion, love. The colours we draw with can really support us, and the best part is we don’t have to “know” why we are drawn to certain colours. We just draw and get to experience the beautiful shifts that can happen.
There are other colours and symbols that might not hold the same meaning for me as they do for you. That’s the beauty of the fact that we get to hold our own views. One symbol for someone can bring them the feeling of love, joy, hope and a return to a happy place whereas that same symbol could remind someone of loss, of trauma, of a time that was deeply sad or scary for them. So this is where the drawings have a lot of wisdom to share with us.
What wants to be expressed? Can you let it and can you learn from it and with it?
Even certain foods can bring us back to those states or memories. For me, banana bread and pancakes always remind me of really happy memories with people I love baking together, dancing in the kitchen and feeling really joyful, loved and these are the heart-full moments that have the capacity to heal. I also know that certain memories can bring back a deep connection to people who have passed away - like making rice the way my grandma used to when we were little or when someone draws a picture of a cardinal or a blue jay because it reminds them of someone they love who they feel a deep connection with even after they’ve passed. These symbols and memories can bring up so much for us and it’s a gift - it’s a gift of healing, of love and of connection.
This is the gift of expressing ourselves through ART!
And my favourite thing about Art and the Artebula App is how we can capture and save the MEMORIES!
For anyone who knows anything about my healing journey and philosophy to healing, I believe that it’s all about the feeling. When we can go back to the feelings that bring us joy, unconditional love, gratitude, and PLAY (yay!), we are healing. When our brains/bodies/beings have experienced a lot of trauma or difficult times, we can easily go back to that “trauma” and our brains/bodies can feel like they are back in that moment when the slightest trigger or thing comes back that brings us back to that feeling.
The beautiful thing about memories is that we can also use our really positive and powerful memories to rewire and reshape those experiences and what is elicited in our brains in those moments.
When the feeling that we feel is more powerful than the one we are currently experiencing, we change the response. When we can tune into a more loving memory or feeling than the fear or pain we are feeling, we can change the brain, the body and BE in the actual present moment rather than constantly reliving the trauma of the past.
So what I mean by this is that simply taking 20 minutes to draw a picture, paint, or create a new creation with LEGO is not just “child’s play”. You are creating the space to heal, to go within and to change the “feeling” to what you truly want to feel. While also creating the space for any feelings and wisdom to be felt and expressed.
How do you feel after you are deeply engaged in creating? In expressing yourself?
When you get your crayons out and draw from your heart, what comes through?
Try it now and see. But more than seeing, listen.
Your drawings hold a message.
They hold meaning.
What did you draw? Remember there are no rules. You can draw your feelings, your biggest fears, your biggest dreams or something that you always wanted to express but could never find the words.
Maybe the art is how you express it until your heart can find the words to say what you want to say. Until then, just live in the moment, find your FUN, draw, create, and find your play every single day!
With love and gratitude,
Amanda Evans, Mind Body Soul Miracles