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Physicians and nurses are discovering that art, music, dance, and poetry have profound healing effects on their patients. Hospitals all over the world are incorporating music and art into patient care. The most sophisticated university medical centers are now creating "art in medicine" programs that invite artists and musicians to work with patients and literally change the hospital environment. These programs bring artists and musicians into the patients' rooms to make art, or have the artists perform in lobbies or atrium spaces. The patients experience the exhilaration of music or the beauty of an exhibition. They paint, play music, and dance with the artists. Art and music crack the sterile space of fear that surrounds the patients. Art opens the hospital to the joys of the human spirit. The spirit freed helps the body heal. Replacing fear with hope and darkness with light is the essence of modern body-mind-spirit medicine.
There are hundreds of art programsboth large scale and small scalein nursing homes, hospices, community hospitals, and university medical centers. There are recreational therapy programs in drug treatment centers that use art, child life programs that use art, and community programs that use art. These invaluable grassroots programs are transforming medicine all over the world. Our intention is to illuminate these programs so that they can be recognized as the jewels they are. It is our hope that they will be integrated as part of the primary health-care model, and not segregated to the side as recreation or entertainment
We also want to acknowledge thecaregivers who use art or music as part of their practice. If a nurse or other caregiver sings to a patient as part of a bath, we want the singing to be seen as just as important as the bathing, as a primary part of health care. We invite all the people associated with such programs to see themselves as critical to health care and to take seriously the making of art in a health-care setting. The artist brings spirit and hope to their hospital environment.
The New Field of Art and Healing
Art and healing is quickly becoming a new field in the world of healing and the world of making art. Art and healing has brought the creative arts, including painting, sculpture, music, dance, storytelling, and poetry, into clinical health-care settings. In art and healing, the creative arts are used for their own healing power rather than for interpretation or therapy. This new innovative approach is being integrated into the patient's health care in many settings, including bone marrow transplant units, adolescent diabetes units, adult oncology units, and outpatient cancer units. By opening the scientific paradigm of the medical center worldview, art and healing will revolutionize preconceived conventions of health care. It is a return to the illumination of beauty inherent in our humanness. Healing art is the new alternative medical therapy. It will become the next movement in holistic medicine, and each person who is ill can practice it themselves now with this book.
What has caused the growth of art and healing worldwide? Healing art is being born as we speak. The concept is catching fire, is awakening in people's spirits. The idea is being born anew. It is being born in two worlds simultaneously. In the world of art, artists, musicians, and dancers are realizing that their imagery has meaning. They are understanding that their imagery heals them, others, their neighborhood, or the earth. It is coming as a flash, an awakening. When artists make a healing image they feel such energy around them that they cannot help making more. Their lives are changed, their world is changed. The second vision comes from the world of the healer. Art in the hospital, or art at the bedside with a person who is ill, is an electrifying experience. It becomes the doorway for the spirit. It becomes the vehicle for the opening of the heart. It is integral to healing.
How does this rebirth of art and healing manifest itself in the outer world? First, now there are artists, musicians, and dancers making healing art purposely. A large body of work of this type of art is accumulating. This art heals by freeing the artists' own healing energy and resonating their body, mind, and spirit. Next, the artist can make a piece of art to heal another person. The artist can do it for specifically one person or for a group of people. This is transpersonal healing. It connects one to another; it is an art of interconnection. The third type of art heals the world. The artist makes a piece that works with the energy of a whole system, whether it be a neighborhood, an ecosystem, or the planet itself. This art can be ceremonial, environmental, performance, or static. It involves the community. It involves energy and movement. It is truly shamanic; it balances the world.
When patients make art to heal, with or without a guide, or when patients use art in their healing, we have the second broad category of healing art. Art at the bedside, art workshops for patients, art therapy, art exhibitions at hospitals, and environments in healing centers all represent this type. Again the way this art heals is the same. It does not matter whether healing art is made by an artist or a patient. It heals by making it and freeing the patient's own energy, viewing it and letting the energy be freed or participating in a ritual where the energy is freed.