In the Body-centered Expressive Art Therapy work I use with clients, I often refer to the Mental, Emotional and Physical Bodies. I then share with them that these three bodies are upheld by the Spiritual Body. This corroborates with the Ayurvedic and Vedic Science understandings as well, and this explanation is often used in many of the Indigenous healing arts and energetic healing realms as well.
Within our Westerncentric culture, however, the Mental Body is king and we are asked to rely on its function predominantly. Unfortunately, many of us have other defaults that help us function in a more life-supporting way, but we may not get to use them as often as the Mental Body. We may have even learned to suppress the others as a way to cope with life and "manage" our existence. These different "default" settings within us are a reminder that we each learn differently and express ourselves differently as a result.
It's important to create a relationship with all three bodies in our daily lives so that we can become more aware of what is "ruling" us, what predominates within our behaviors, and where we might need to create more conscious awareness. For example, many people have little to no connection with their emotional bodies and often confuse the messages coming from the emotional body with what the mental body is saying. This can result in not getting our basic emotional needs met.
In order for us to get our needs met (either by ourselves or others) we must be aware of what our needs are to begin with! Having a conscious relationship, a habit, of checking in with our three bodies or "three levels of awareness" as they are referred to in the Tamalpa Life Art Process (TLAP) is step number one. When we have a more conscious connection to our inner realms, we can then take more effective actions and create a more nourishing and supportive life for ourselves. Often this will come from a realization of "what isn't working" and then changes can start from there.
Our emotional, mental and physical bodies have much to tell us and many insights to offer us about what is and isn't working in our lives. Take this quiz to see what your "default" mode is and then let me help you take the next step towards deepening your awareness with them.
5 – Always True
4 – Frequently True
3 – Sometimes True
2 – Rarely True
1 - Never True
____I thrive on using my body whether its walking, running, riding my bike or doing yoga.
____My body insists on three healthy, well balanced meals per day + at least one snack.
____Drinking ample water is as necessary as breath for me.
____Caffeine and alcohol are best in low doses or not at all.
____I can feel smoke and drugs instantly.
____Massage and other such treatments are my go-to self care treatment.
____Somatic presence is vital for my well being.
____I am present to all my physical sensations.
____I can not hold bodily functions and must take care of my physical needs immediately.
____Sleeping is a nonnegotiable tool for my total functioning.
____Using my body daily is a primary focus of mine.
____Making time for friends who matter and make me feel connected and happy is vital to me.
____I give myself permission to not be perfect and I remind my self to do the same for others.
____Accepting my feelings, including sadness, anger, frustration, and shame are my primary concern.
____When I'm feeling down, functioning is almost impossible.
____Taking weekends away, vacations or even mini bouts of seclusion are the only way I can stay sane.
____I seek or desire support from a friend when I am struggling.
____I am apt to tell others what I truly feel and need, but I am often fearful of the outcome.
____Emotional impulses get me motivated to take action- for better or worse.
____People describe me as "passionate".
____Moods are part of my personality.
____Life is highly dependent on "how I am feeling."
____Learning new things keeps me going.
____When I'm mentally stimulated, I feel a sense of thriving.
____I prefer to read as a relaxation tool.
____My preferred creative outlet is writing.
____I make lists- for everything!
____Doing work or tasks I find mentally challenging is exhilarating.
____I thrive on active conversation, debate, facts and statistics.
____The most important thing to me is how much I "know."
____Others see me as a thinker, always learning and growing.
____I'd rather "feel" less and be clearer about what I think.
____I think emotions can be overcome by a rational mind.
____Spending time in nature is as vital to me as breath.
____I attend religious services or meetings at least once a week.
____Meditation is my primary self care tool and it takes care of all my other issues.
____Physical movement helps me "feel connected" to something greater than me.
____Gratitude often is all I need to "feel better".
____Reflecting time and making meaning of my experiences keeps me sane each day.
____I can let go of my worries and fears, because I trust god/universe/source to take care of it for me.
____My main practice is being in the moment- savoring and reflecting upon my experiences in the "now".
____I often feel as though it's not up to me to take action, that only something "beyond" me will take care of it for me.
____Most of my life I've felt "different" from others and not aligned with the "worldly" ways of this life.
____Material pursuits feel pointless and unnecessary most of the time.
Tally your numbers and notice what category has the highest number for you. What is the second strongest category for you?
Category #1: Physical Body
Category #2: Emotional Body
Category #3: Mental Body
Category #4: Spiritual Body
Your highest numbers will reflect your "default" mode. These modes may change from day to day, week to week, year to year and so on. Ideally, we are creating an ongoing dialogue with these four bodies that helps us maintain a sense of balance and thriving.
To connect with the "three levels of awareness" more consciously and start your practice of being aware of your needs more directly, check out my article on doing a Three Level Check-In, for easy step-by-step instructions.
Still need help? Confused by all these bodies and your default mode? Connect with me to find out more about my work and scheduling a session. Or join me for one of my workshops and get embodied and grow in your creativity! See workshops.
Here's what many people don't understand about art and creativity.
We need it. We need it like breath. Like water. Like sleep. It gives us life.
Art is a life saving tool that can provide us with the ability to move forward with our lives in a more conscious, life affirming way; a life that has more possibilities and more awareness.
Before you disregard these grandiose ideas about art, I invite you to meet Expressive Art Therapy, particularly the type of Art Therapy that I work with, which is a body-centered approach. These tools have been life saving for me; above and beyond my meditation and yoga and healthy eating, the arts have allowed me to move with my darkness and misery, and this work has helped me create something different for my Self. Again and again and again. Life changing and life saving, indeed.
Art therapists understand the power of art and our innate creative abilities as humans. It's also understood in the Art Therapy realms that art has the potential to heal, to re-create us, to allow ourselves to be open to re-creating ourselves. We understand innately that art helps us work with the unseen, hidden parts of ourselves, and to develop a different relationship with our personal mythologies.
Let me take these realities a few steps further.
We, as humans, are in a body. This is a tool. A tool of perception, of felt sense, of growth and awareness- if used as such. I say, let's use it! We as humans, are each unique, vast and complex, just as the cosmos are. We are each essentially a microcosmic imprint of the macroscopic universe. The planets and their movements effect us, influence our experiences, and can provide us with a map for our lives. Incredibly useful and very helpful for our journey! This is why I use Jyotish, or Vedic Astrology in conjunction with the arts; these are both fabulous tools of guidance and can provoke self-inquiry and personal growth.
This powerful trio of art, body and astrology is a unique combination I've been working with and growing with personally and using with my clients. All three growth tools together, art, the body, and Vedic Astrology (Jyotish) offer an exciting experience of body-centered Expressive Art Therapy or Jyoti Art Therapy as I am calling it. It offers a unique blend of awareness enhancing tools that provide profound results.
But here's the catch.
Art for arts sake doesn't inherently heal us. It's intention that guarantees a shift; a possible transformation. Art is a by-product of our innate creativity (as humans the creation process is literally how we came into being, why we are here, and how we continue to exist). Artists have "open channels" that allow them to tap into this flow of creativity that courses within each one of us. And the channels that are open for each artist are unique and vary. But these channels aren't just a part of an Artist's existence, we all have creative channels. Most people have closed channels, dry channels, small channels, rigid and brittle channels of creativity. Cultural, familial and personal paradigms keep the creative channels from opening, flowing and thriving. These creative channels are like rivers and provide us with the life giving nourishment that flowing water gives us. Water brings forth life, wealth, purification, abundance and joy. Art and water are very much the same. Not surprisingly, the planet Venus is linked to both these life giving tools; art and water.
We need more flow in our lives.
We need the channels of our creativity to stay open and fluid. Art (in all its forms) helps us do that, but in order to reap the vast rewards that art has to offer us, we must harvest the richness, the fruits of our labor. We must listen to the hidden messages that our art is offering us. The medium we use will have a direct effect on the benefits we receive, the parts of ourselves that are effected, and the healing properties that can be attained (for this reason an intermodal art process is recommended).
When we create a piece of art, a harvesting process can bring a sense of meaning and purpose to our work and help us go beyond the surface, excavate the deeper meanings of our work, the "why" behind it. Art is a messenger from our depths, from the most hidden parts of ourselves. It never ceases to astonish me, fill me with awe, and renew my trust in the magic of creativity.
Here's a simple "harvesting" process to use with your next art creation, using the Tamalpa Life Art Process (TLAP) Baseline Statements. These simple questions can help you uncover the hidden messages wrapped up in your artwork. Explore and unravel.
Step 1. Move your body, open the channels, get the breath involved, and pay attention to the body's subtle messages. Get embodied.
Step 2. Paint, draw, use craypas or pencil. Move and explore, open your senses through an artistic medium. Surrender to the creative process. Don't hold back.
Step 3. Answer these Baseline Statements after finishing your art piece:
Return to this process regularly. Commit to it. Let it help you create more fluidity and listening in your life. Look for themes and symbols, messages and stories that continue to arrive. These patterns are vital messengers.
Sometimes, the support and outer influence of a trained witness is necessary and can be profound for your process. When you get to that point, when you feel stuck or at a crossroads, confused or uncertain, it is time to ask for support.
I am happy to support you or give you further references for your journey.
Contact me for a session.
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