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Mon, 26 Sep 2016
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Art as medicine: Healing our collective wounds


Excerpt from ‘Faith’ by Annelie Solis

The Healing Power of Art


Immigration issues, class warfare, and racism have plagued humanity for generations. Things aren't 'worse than they have ever been', we are just more aware of it than before thanks to the internet. Waking up to present-day atrocities can be overwhelming, but awareness and social action will help us put these things into our collective past. We can not change the past, but we can learn to look at it in ways that empower us and allow us to evolve. On the personal and collective level, art helps us address cultural wounds and begin the process of healing our history. A deeper look at this intriguing topic is sure to inspire you to find your own creative voice.

The Research

There are many ways to look at, explore, and research, the healing powers of art. The American Art Therapy Association has taken a lead role in establishing research criteria, and documenting the success of using art therapeutically. In their Art Therapy Outcome Bibliography, they have amassed a huge list of scientific research that validates the wide-reaching impact of art in healing individuals and communities. Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, Drug Addiction, Grief Management, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Sexual Abuse, Trauma Resolution, and Traumatic Brain Injury, are just a few common ailments that Art Therapy has successfully addressed.
Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. -American Art Therapy Association

Comment: More reasons why creative activities are a balm to body and soul:


Heart

Empathetic people learn more quickly when their actions benefit others

© PeopleImages.com/Getty Images
The scientists found that participants who ranked higher for empathy levels were faster learners when it came to winning points for others during a task.
Although people are slower to learn to do tasks that help other people, research participants rated as more empathic proved to be quicker learners

People with a higher level of empathy learn to help others more quickly than their more hard-hearted peers, scientists say.

Researchers scanned the brains of more than 30 individuals while they learned how to carry out a task for their own benefit, someone else's benefit or no-one's benefit.

The results revealed that, on average, participants learned how to "win" at the task most quickly when they were the one to benefit. But, when it came to winning rewards for others, those who were more empathic were quicker learners.

"Overall people are slower to learn to help somebody else," said Patricia Lockwood, lead author of the research from the University of Oxford. "But people who report themselves to be higher in empathy learn at a similar rate to benefit themselves and the other person."

Comment: The vagus nerve fundamentally drives human social affiliation—the motivations and behaviors involved in approaching others in trusting, affectionate, cooperative ways and appears to be intimately tied to experiencing compassion towards other people's suffering. Breathing exercises can help to improve vagal tone and thus enhance pro-social behaviours. The Éiriú Eolas breathing program is an easily learned technique that stimulates the vagus nerve. It can help to effectively manage the physiological, emotional, and psychological effects of stress, create better links between your body and mind and increase your sense of connection with others.


People

Black and white or shades of gray: The color of your thinking matters

"Everything in life cannot and should not be seen in only two different shades of color. There is no truth in defining things in black and white since there are so infinitely many different underlying factors for each action performed by each person. Narrow-mindedness is for the socially detached individual." - Berivan Selim
Good or evil.

Right or wrong.

Perfect or terrible.

Smart or stupid.

Republican or Democrat.

Always or never.

Love or hate.

With us or against us.

Question

What, exactly, is psychoanalysis?

© Bill Strain/Flickr
Psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a way of treating longstanding psychological problems that is based on the belief behaviours have underlying drivers which may be unrecognised and unconscious.

With this understanding it's possible to think about the meaning and reasons behind that behaviour and enable the possibility of change.

Although Freud's psychology of the mind was premised on the existence of an unconscious, he was not the originator of the term. Seventeenth-century Western philosophers John Locke and René Descartes and, later, Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz grappled with the idea of an unconscious, speculating the existence of something within the mind, beyond awareness, that also influenced behaviour.

Evil Rays

Noisy busyness and the disappearance of silence

Silence is a word pregnant with multiple meanings: for many a threat; for others a nostalgic evocation of a time rendered obsolete by technology; for others a sentence to boredom; and for some, devotees of the ancient arts of contemplation, reading, and writing, a word of profound, even sacred importance.

But silence, like so much else in the present world, including human beings, is on the endangered species list. Another rare bird—let's call it the holy spirit of true thought—is slowly disappearing from our midst. The poison of noise and busyness is polluting more than we think, but surely our ability to think.

I am sitting on a stone step of a small cabin on an estuary on Cape Cod. All is quiet. Three feet in front of me a baby rabbit nibbles on grass, and that nibbling resounds. A mourning dove moans intermittently. I see the wind ripple the marsh grass and sense its low humming. I feel at home.

People 2

Tactile synesthesia: What it's like to have emotions in your fingertips

It makes sense that the word feeling can refer to an emotion and a sense of touch. Like smells and songs, certain textures can call up specific emotional states — the sense of calm coziness, for example, that comes from stroking the fur of a cat, or wrapping yourself up in a fleecy blanket.

Most of the time, these connections follow pretty predictable patterns. Studies on touch preference over the years have generally yielded the same results: We like things that are soft or smooth; we dislike things that are jagged or sharp; depending on what we're feeling, we experience a mild sense of pleasure or displeasure. Research has shown that these preferences can have measurable effects, influencing our moods and how we relate to others. We've made room for these patterns in our metaphors, too: A particularly harrowing experience is "rough." A sweet moment makes you feel "warm and fuzzy."

In some rare cases, though, the link between touch and emotion can take some strange and extreme turns. Imagine being so disgusted by denim, for example, that running a hand over jeans makes you want to puke. Or feeling the urge to laugh whenever you touch silk. Or getting the creeps whenever you put on a fabric glove. That's life for people with tactile-emotional synesthesia, a mysterious condition in which seemingly arbitrary textures can be enough to make someone laugh or cry.

Comment: More on synesthesia:


Light Saber

Grace under pressure: The cool-headed strategy of observation and response

Think for a minute about how many times you felt pressure today—pressure to do something you were nervous to do, pressure to perform in the moment, pressure to make the right choice, pressure to take a big step toward a change or experience you want in your life? What was it like? I find pressure to be an intriguing concept. It certainly feels stressful, but it's ultimately more than stress. Whereas stress at its core is really just a state of physical and/or emotional strain (generally in response to what we somehow perceive as challenging circumstances), it's initially a response versus a force (but can become a force when chronic).

As a result, stress is most essentially a reaction we can at times avoid or use any range of strategies to minimize or manage. Pressure, on the other hand, is more of an input, a force not just acting in us but on us, influencing and compelling us toward action, much like the concept in physics. The pressure we experience may come from outside expectations or from internal sources (e.g. perfectionism), but the net effect is the same: in one way or another, we're called to act.

Let me say it a different way. When it comes to stress, the most pressing issue is how we take care of it. When we're talking about pressure, however, the question is how we will meet it.

Comment:



People

25 ways to maturely respond to constructive criticism

However way we look at it, criticism is judgment, and most people don't do well in managing or accepting either.

Perhaps only a micro percentage of the population can claim to have control over their bearings while being told what's wrong with them.

The criticisms themselves may not sting as much as how it is delivered or who delivers it. Sometimes or ever so often, it's the person at the receiving end who tends to blow things out of proportion.

However, it is important to recognize that not all criticisms are essentially true or hurtful. A lot of them might actually be helpful when assessed with an open mind, regardless of the manner by which it was made known to you.

2 + 2 = 4

No fact zone: Both liberals and conservatives easily reject actual facts, says study

"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule—and both commonly succeed, and are right."― H.L. Mencken, Minority Report
On a daily basis, the Free Thought Project is accused of being a conservative mouthpiece, funded and run by the Koch brothers. Also, on a daily basis, the Free Thought Project is accused of being a liberal mouthpiece, funded and run by George Soros.

On a daily basis, these assertions are wholly and undeniably wrong.

When there is a government boot on your neck, whether this boot is from the left foot or right foot is of no concern.

The Free Thought Project does not keep it a secret that we hold no faith in the two-party political paradigm or process and we seek only truth and liberty for all.

We believe in freedom — and we do not follow that statement up with the word 'but.'

Gear

Are lazy people smarter? Study says thinking people are less physically active

© Getty
You may now have another excuse to binge watch television shows and take naps during the day.

A new study reveals that intelligent people live a more sedentary lifestyle, as they rarely become bored and spend more time lost in their own thoughts.

Researchers found that those who fill their day with physical activity are often 'non-thinkers,' and do so to stimulate their minds in order to escape their own thoughts.

In a study published to the Journal of Health Psychology, researchers from the Florida Gulf Coast University explained that 'the relationship between cognition and physical activity is an important question for the human experience, and the interaction likely extends across the lifespan.'

Comment: No, don't take that as an excuse to binge watch TV. Ignore the click bait in the first sentence and you'll see that smart people are more sedentary because they probably spend that time being mentally active. Or at least, that might just be the ideal. If thinking people actually do spend more time vegetating in front of the TV, then that's just a sign of how much our society wastes the potential of its brightest.