Integrating Expressive Arts Exercise – A Gift that Keeps Giving

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Just did the Polarities exercise about my upcoming trip to New Zealand, and it was so powerful that I want to share it with you. I went from being nervous as a reactor to feeling the magic of what I can create and co-create on the trip with my friend, with whom I have been working on “Gnomestory”, an older children’s book. Though I’m trying to limit my creative impulses and focus on the “Gnomestory” book, I am considering sharing this process in a teleseminar.

Basicly, I select an issue I feel nervous or upset about and focus on drawing about that and then on the opposite of that, and then do the drawing integrating the two. Here are the steps in detail:

Integrating Expressive Arts Exercise, adapted from an exercise in the book “The Creative Connection” by Natalie Rogers and from others who taught me about expressive arts, and presented from my experience doing this exercise for probably 10 years, often as a daily practice before reading, prayer, and reflection/meditation.

“Inner Polarities”

Context

Let your inner critic sit outside in a nice rocking chair. Drawing here is not to look like you are a good artist, but to express real feelings and eventually inner truths pop in. If you want to warm up, you can take one page and just scribble on it hard, soft, wiggly, straight, poetically, choppily – scribbling standing up, sitting down – covering the page.

Choosing a Polarity From Something Troubling You

Brainstorm…Start with something troubling you and the opposite of that. Or you can reflect on inner polarities that are familiar to you, such as: love/hate, fear/confidence… joy/sorrow… What polarities occur to you? Take a few minutes to sit quietly, breathe deeply… Which polarity are you drawn to explore? This takes courage so I want to acknowledge you for your courage in facing something real in your life that you want to evolve.

Visual Art

Using a large piece of newsprint (18X 24 inches) or any piece of paper handy to you, even from your appointment book) let your non-dominant hand choose the colors (you can use oil pastels, paints, markers or even a pen) and with your non-dominant hand express your feelings about the troubling side of the polarity in doodling or drawing.

Writing

After doing that drawing, write five words or five sentences on it that begin with “I” with your non-dominant hand.

Drawing the Opposite/the Polarity

Do another drawing about the opposite of the troubling side of the polarity – what the best outcome could be, the most positive opposite. Again, afterward write five sentences beginning with “I” around or near your drawing, with your non-dominant hand.

Drawing the Integration

Now, create a third drawing. Use both hands at the same time to draw/paint.…just let it flow… Again write five sentences but this time use both hands to write them.

Note:

What words come to mind while you are drawing? Feel free to write them on or near your drawing while drawing. You may also do some journaling about any or all of your drawings after you draw them. Feel free to give a title to each of your drawings if one emerges.

Reflection and Deepening the Creative Connection

After you’ve done the three drawings, let your body move and sounds express to each of your drawings, from first to second to third. This is quite telling of the energy of each and may surprise you on how illuminating it is, and may reveal something futher – some wonderful truth from within.

Extras:

Meditation

Look at the drawings, writing. Reflect on what you have done. Consider what the pain might be in your life of not listening to the feelings and wisdom suggested in what you have drawn, written and expressed through movement and sound. Consider what benefits might be in your life if you do learn and follow-up on the wisdom suggested in your expression.

Re-Read (I often forget to do this step but it sounds so helpful!)

Re-read what you wrote in the coming days. It came from your depths and can guide you and remind you what you want next steps to be. (It may help to re-write what you wrote with your non-dominant hand, if you can read your writing [smile]). You may hang up all or just the third drawing where you will see one or all as a reminder.

Enjoy the transformation. Your after-art state is ideal for diving into your spiritual practice now that you are more soothed and expressed.

Inspired by and adapted from the Inner Polarites exercise by Natalie Rogers, who gave permission to use her work while acknowledging it.

Source Material

1 Rogers, Natalie. The creative connection. Expressive arts as healing. (Palo Alto: Science & Behavior Books, Inc.) p 158.

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