Chi Nei Tsang and the Healing Power of Art by Karen Pearle
What would life be like without music? without art?
Someone singing of the longing for his beloved stirs our hearts. As a young man, the musician Michael Feinstein sang to patients in a convalescent home. A woman with Alzheimer's , who hadn't spoken in two years, started to mouth the words and then to sing along with him when he sang "Always." After his performance she said "Thank you." The depth of emotion and beauty of his singing brought about a miraculous healing in her.
Early in life I was frustrated with the conformity I grew up in and was driven by a desire for meaning and purpose in my life. Art touched my soul and created a feeling inside that I had never experienced before. I would draw and paint and go to museums often—I was hooked.
Then eighteen years ago, when I was feeling stuck in my art, I began receiving Chi Nei Tsang sessions. Right away I noticed a new surge in my creativity. I was so impressed that I studied to become a CNT practitioner and dedicated myself to promoting the creative impulse in all my clients.
Being depressed is like the music going out of our life. When we are happy, colors come alive, we breathe more freely, and have a skip in our step. We are in rhythm. From the beat of our mother's heart, to the cycles of the seasons, our pulse, all life is in rhythm. By engaging our senses in an experience that adds excitement, meaning and depth to our lives, art heals— helping us tune into the rhythm of life and be "in touch" with ourselves.
Physical disease and emotional distress are recognized by Traditional Chinese Medicine as a sign of disruption in the natural flow or circulation of chi or energy. We may experience pain, or be dulled and numbed out. Healing results from a free flow of energy. Then the body's physiology changes from one of stress to one of deep relaxation, from one of fear to one of creativity and inspiration.
When I was doing my first Open Studio I decided to hang my art (mixed media mosaics) in the office where I do Chi Nei Tsang healing work. When people sit up on the massage table after their session they are deeply relaxed and they often look around at my mosaics and are moved by their color and reflected light.
My art is practiced with a quiet receptive mind so that my creativity can come through in a fresh new way. When I am open, vulnerable and undisturbed, and take the risk of letting something new arise, something comes through from the unknown into the world of the known. Between fruitful phases of creativity I experience periods of faltering, learning, and working things out. It takes courage for me to stay with it, and to trust the process.
I believe that all art, even very intellectual art or art that expresses anger is, in some way, an expression of love. Many of us were not in a safe or supported family situation where we could express love. We may have been given the impression that we're not creative because we were ignored or criticized when young. But I believe that there is an artist in everyone asking for more expression.
The artist's journey inward into the deepest center of the self—what some call spirit, soul, or subconscious mind—can awaken the natural healing power within. When we take the risk of expressing ourselves, we heal, and at the same time give our gifts to the world.
Recently, a voice came to me in a dream that said, "Go to the depths and find yourself singing there." The deeper we go within ourselves the closer we are to everyone. Art shows us the way.
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