Ricky's Riffs:

Random thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General

The Healing Power of Art

Thirty Five Thousand years ago, the ice age caves of Southern France were covered in beautiful images of wild animals and abstract symbols. Since that time, the ancestors of these painters have produced the Mona Lisa, Sufi poetry, and Rock and Roll. The story of Homo Sapien has been, in large measure, a story of art—of the language needed to express it and the technology necessary to make it move.

Fundamentally, we are energetic beings, waves of electrical charges, cooled into embodiment; congealed organic structures; solid objects of nature. Our mind/bodies buzz as our internal energy systems resonate with the electrical fields beyond our physical limits in a great cosmic dance. Looking deeply within, we see cellular plasma, microscopic gunk. But deeper, at the nano level, we are mostly “No-thing”. Empty space, chaotic yet paradoxically patterned gatherings of vibratory forms.

While at ease, the wave flow is powerful and smooth, pulsing in sync with our natural rhythms, winding through imperceptible channels that give rise to healthy structures which then secrete biochemicals, generate electricity, and pump fluids that contain universally charged and ingested particles. When dis-eased, flow is uneven and weak, jammed up in some places, overexcited in others, creating a frictional drag on our systems. The difference between these two states is rooted in both the scarcity or abundance of available energy and the bodies ability to assimilate it.

One of the great expenders/depleters of this energy is the labor intensive work of “I Maintenance”. Bound through evolutionary determination to our senses of self, our “I-ness”, we navigate the world. From the vantage point of this self center of the cosmos we defend ourselves against dangers both real and imagined. And after constructing these defenses, we find ourselves alone, behind fortress walls, separated and distant from the world. Starved for connection and cut off from the bountiful energy that surrounds us, we feed on ourselves, cannibals drinking our own lifes blood, searching desperately for sources of sustenance. Alcohol, drugs, potato chips, television–all just empty calories and stimulants that create short term illusions of vitality, numbing the pain and suffering of self absorption, and almost always followed by a hangover.

So how do we free ourselves from this oppression, from the tyranny of the “I”. Where do we find the strength needed for this task? By opening ourselves to the power that surrounds us, an internal field is generated in which the “I” can merge with and finally dissolve into the “All”.

Creativity, arts engine, is a process whereby cortical consciousness connects with its deeper unconscious state, opening a conduit through which ideas and images flow. The work of art produced, through the hands, heart, and mind of the artist, then takes on its own vibrational pattern which exists independently of its creator. Great art is marked by its capacity to spontaneously awaken us by blowing holes through the psychic barriers that separate our inner and outer realms. The subsequent transmission and absorption of these powerful patterns then serves to replenish our depleted energetic stores.

In addition to the inherent energy of the art objects themselves is the power of the artistic process to enable both creator and observer to focus deeply, to effectively close out thought. Buried in the spaces between thoughts are modes of connection, intrapsychic bonds, that hold untapped potential. But we cannot access these sources because of the noisy chatter that obstructs our awareness. As the spaces of emptiness expand within us, the bonds between self and no-self are stretched, then shattered, releasing energies beyond the strength of will. Through the artistic silence of creation, appreciation, and focus we are able to harness the power necessary to “not be”.

So naturally, throughout time, our species has been drawn into this process. A vehicle of both transcendance and pleasure, art celebrates beauty and the immolation of self in an emptiness that human beings have sought since we awakened into consciousness.

So what heals us? Chiropractic adjustments, exercise, Acupuncture needles? Antibiotics and surgery? None really. Each modality opens a channel, clears the way so that the energy that swirls around and within us can move through us, lighting up our cells, resonating with our deepest frequencies, raising us. This is healing– the bathing of our bodies, minds, and souls in pure light, the energy of the cosmos. And the vehicles that open our energetic gates are the healing ways. But they are not the healing.

Every spiritual tradition utilizes some form of art—sound, movement, painting—to clear an opening for healing energy to flow. Gregorian chants, Church bells, Balinese dance, Tibetan Thanka painting. Even the repetetive, rhythmic focus of prayer and meditation generates musical vibrations. Why do people shout “I am healed” as the Gospel music pulses behind them, as they sway in ecstatic motion? Because they have opened themselves to the Universal (God to them) Force and it is this force that heals.

If we desire true healing, and want to address our illnesses at every level, we need to access the deep healing energy within us all. This is the medicine to be taken beside or instead of those traditional Allopathic remedies we are taught to depend upon. The activation of these energies through art allows and supports the healing of all of our bodily systems, connecting us to the great unity, and consecrating as holy the ground of our being.

10 thoughts on “The Healing Power of Art

  1. Robin says:

    LOVE this! It is my favorite of all your blogs.

    Robin Sparks

  2. rickyfishman says:

    Thanks so much Robin. I have spent many years pondering this subject and it represents the integration of my work as Chiropractor, Professor, Musician, but also as the fortunate student of some great teachers along the way. The Philosopher Vic Gioscia, the Political Scientist Jerry Dekker, and the Psychologist/Sociologist/Wise Woman Beth Roy to name a few. I am deeply indebted to those mentors whom have taken me in, even if they didn’t realize they were doing so. I do believe there is tremendous power within and around us and that the connection of our inner and outer worlds is the deepest source of it.

  3. Amy Lauren says:

    I really loved this post! Thanks for including me on your “heads up” email list!

    It’s only in the last few years that I have come to realize some similar things and so I appreciate so much these beautiful observations. I do not consider myself to be a religious or “spiritual” person but I do believe in the power of the universe which I think connects us all. There is no reason to think that we are not products of what came before us (eg our parents) and as such we are drawn to others in the universe for very specific reasons, meaning that in my mind, there is no luck, although it’s not completely predestined either…so one who was raised to fend for one’s self emotionally becomes someone who doesn’t need emotional support from anyone, is drawn to partners who are absent emotionally, which is only sustainable if the chips aren’t down too far…once the chips are really down they need emotional support, which they don’t get from their “chosen” partner…only then do they realize they need a different kind of partner…the universe brought them together for very real reasons, including that this was their way to heal each other and move into a healthier place emotionally – the emotionally absent partner realizes he/she needs to be more engaged and present in the life of his/her partner, and the one who can fend for his/herself emotionally realizes that he/she needs emotional connections. So we’re all connected at some level to this energy produced by the universe that is trying to guide us in a way that makes sense. Art that resonates with many people helps to heal many and functions as part of this process; it’s a gift that only certain individuals possess and their art serves as windows into our souls that when we’re in the midst of these life experiences have been expressed in art form by someone else with the gift to do so. It connects us all at one point in time, depending on where we are in this universal process as we evolve.

  4. rickyfishman says:

    Hey Amy,
    So great to get your comments and thanks so much for them. I also believe that the universe lays out for us all the opportunities to be who we most fully and deeply are or can become. But I disagree with you about one thing, which is the idea that “only certain individuals possess…their art (which) serves as windows onto our souls….” I believe that each of us, as part of our humanity, our “god given” potential, has the capacity to experience art as a vehicle to see into our souls. I think the challenge in our time and place, one in which we live primarily in the material realm, is to be able to see this more subtle reality. I think this is why we unconsciously seek art, because we all have within us and the capacity and desire to access this reality directly through our own artistic process.

  5. Jerry Dekker says:

    Thanks so much for writing such a wonderful blog entry! I really don’t think I will approach art in the same way again.

  6. Debra Disman says:

    Nice piece Ricky…this is an important subject, and as one increasingly involved in the Business of Art, it is good to remember the immersion level as the one which drives. Thank you for your efforts.

  7. kate jones says:

    “The activation of these energies through art allows and supports the healing of all of our bodily systems, connecting us to the great unity, and consecrating as holy the ground of our being.”

    This last line is a wonderful thought and beautiful summation of your blog entry, Ricky.

    I feel a strong affinity with what your are saying here. I find that engaging with art as a gateway to the fluid and occurring world….. from which all forms arise. I feel the love I have for that world, even as I write this response. Looking forward to talking more about this, your music, and whatever is ‘now’.

  8. Aidin says:

    Thanks for sharing this Ricky. It has been a while that I have been dealing with the “I-ness” more consciously. This piece really spoke to me since I’ve had similar conversations with close friends about it. The healing of creating art, in any form that helps to “harness the power necessary to ‘not be'” is right on target. Also the fact that we numb ourselves with illusions is very true. Well said my friend!

  9. Amy Potozkin says:

    Great blog Ricky. This is why arts education in the schools is so crucial. As a child I discovered the theatre during a very dark and difficult period in my life. For me it was a truly healing art in many ways and as I got older it was a medium to learn and connect deeply with myself and others. As an adult I also feel this way about music, fine art, cinema, etc. I remember someone telling me that in Bali there is no one word for “art” because they believe that art exists in everything. I found that to be true when I was there…even in the poorest communities there was beauty everywhere and attention to detail in many “artistic” ways.

  10. Claud says:

    Nice piece, very artfully written! I agree with Amy L. in that “Art that resonates with many people helps to heal many and functions as part of this process; it’s a gift that only certain individuals possess and their art serves as windows into our souls that when we’re in the midst of these life experiences have been expressed in art form by someone else with the gift to do so.” She’s expressing something that I call the “universal truth”, the human emotional experience or the artist’s intent.
    I do believe though, that we can all access our creativity, and in doing so, can ‘create’ a beautiful garden, a delicious meal, or an eye’catching floral arrangement. Perhaps it is the visceral attention given to such activities that brings about the healing. I suppose you could accuse me of splitting hairs, but I do spend a good amount of time teaching ‘what is art’ and therefore see it in a very defined sense. Art must have meaning, and that’s why we need it. The artist holds up the mirror to reveal ourselves.
    Oh but never mind that – let’s go for a hike and marvel and at the artistic renderings of a butterfly’s wing!

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