Beyond The Surface

This is a ten-part series in reviewing and experiencing through art experiential’s, the book by Cathy A. Malchiodi, The Soul’s Palettethe book we are studying in my Intro to Arts and Healing art therapy course.

Chapter 7: Images as a Path to Physical Well-Being

I was looking forward to reading this chapter to see how art could help with the mind-body pain connections as I have a variety of medical problems. I know there are more and more modalities coming to the fore that helps those dealing with pain. The author starts off by focusing on helping the reader understand that being creative can help with understanding one’s illness in a whole new way. This is done by tapping into the soul’s message via art.

Several sections in this chapter often stress the importance of letting the art speak for the illness. However, I was very appreciative that Malchiodi did state on page 134 that “use your creative source as a complement to medical treatment, as part of your overall wellness program.” This is important as medical care does help with solving the body side of the illness.

I’m currently struggling with a skin problem with my scalp and have to use two different types of treatment to help with psoriasis and staph infection. It is quite irritating to deal with intense itching, peeling, and sores of the scalp. Besides using medicated skincare as prescribed by my doctor, I chose to incorporate using organic ginger shampoo, conditioner, and scalp oil. That has helped with healing too. I am a big believer in aromatherapy and organic products. But from what the author is suggesting on using art to help with the body’s messages, I was curious to see what I would feel drawn to and want to try for my own well-being.

I chose to do the suggestions in the section on painting or drawing the emotional response to illness. It was a two-fold concept. One concept was to just use art to express my feelings about the skin problem as a coping mechanism. The other concept to dialogue or write about the illness to gain a deeper sense of what I was holding in my body that was causing suffering.

I ended up doing a color pencil drawing. As I started scribbling in areas of the back of image of a head, I could feel some of the agitation come to the surface. The more I drew, the calmer my scalp became. I could even feel some of the tension in my body ease as well. As for the deeper sense, I am still working on, but I feel that as I keep talking with the image, I haven’t really been letting myself feel my feelings. That is pretty accurate as I just started to detox from alcohol and started going to AA meetings.

Addicts and alcoholics do not like dealing with feelings, we run from them and that is why many have a lot of resentments that cause our self-will to run riot. I am having to feel feelings and using some of the techniques in the book thus far, along with working my 12-step program, is making it easier to move through feelings instead of running from them. It is even helping my body heal.

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