Art for Healing

Posted by Harriet Hodgson @harriethodgson1, Oct 26, 2018

Kudos to the Montreal Museum of Fine Art for allowing physicians to write prescriptions for free admission to the museum. And kudos to Mayo Clinic for its art program. From the beginning, Mayo Clinic believed that art can uplift patients and foster healing. Whether it’s Rochester, Jacksonville or Scottsdale, Mayo Clinic displays a wide range of artwork for patients. The Rochester site published a brochure for a self-guided tour of artwork. I live in Rochester and every time I’m at Mayo, I take the time to look at the artwork.

@hopeful33250 We can be on the road to health for the health of it!! I enjoy learning of the various ways others cope. I have tried to learn the art of needle work and ended up in a tangled mess. We all have things we just cannot do ☹️ I enjoy the enthusiasm and need to get back to the drawing board-after the dishes before they run away with the spoon 😉

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@hopeful33250 @parus @mlmcg @harriethodgson1 When you stop to think about it, almost anything can be viewed as a therapy. Making a cup of tea: the retrieval of teabag with its aroma, the sound of water boiling, the fragrant steam of the steeping, the soothing taste. Being able to do any task can be a meditative process as we focus on each part. And if we cannot do it physically, reviewing that task mentally may achieve the same result. For myself, my writing, crochet, quiltmaking, and Zentangle are creative outlets that calm/ focus/help heal me.
Ginger

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You're so right Ginger. We can make many ordinary experiences into meditative experiences.

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@jenniferhunter

Here are 2 Mayo doctors making music. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9I-OYWE9Cc

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@jenniferhunter The acoustics are just right for that music! Last time we were at Scripps Green Medical Institute [La Jolla, CA], we finally heard the grand piano in the lobby being played. Normally my husband's post-transplant appts are early morning, this time it was midday. Guess the pianists don't do sunrise ;))
Ginger

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@parus

@hopeful33250 We can be on the road to health for the health of it!! I enjoy learning of the various ways others cope. I have tried to learn the art of needle work and ended up in a tangled mess. We all have things we just cannot do ☹️ I enjoy the enthusiasm and need to get back to the drawing board-after the dishes before they run away with the spoon 😉

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I understand what you are saying, @parus. I'll probably never master the technique of eating with chopsticks, so the fork will be my way of eating chinese food!

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@mlmcg

You have only talked about fine arts and forgot about practical arts. Not everyone is good at fine arts and we do not realize just how important practical arts are in therapy and in our lives. When I was sent to rehab after my two strokes the first thing I ask friends for were large knitting needles and yarn. I knew that if I did not start knitting I would just lie there and do nothing. (When the doctors discharged me from the hospital they did not know if I needed Hospice or Palliative Care they had done all they could.) I started knitting a scarf two weeks after I entered rehab, I knitted up a storm and got back most of my mobility, I still can not use chopsticks.

There are many more practical arts that are overlooked for many reasons and are just as therapeutic as fine arts. We do not consider typing as an art, laying out a page for a magazine or book is very artistic. We do not set type anymore, it is done on the keyboard. I still do not know the keyboard like I once did but I am getting better. Even coloring is therapeutic, using colored pencils helped me write. Just holding a pencil or pen and get it to do what you want it to do and where is not easy. Then there is working with wood. I do not trust myself with a power saw so I will not go there. I use a microwave to fix most of my meals, I do not feel comfortable with a gas stove.

Sorry, when I get into all the practical arts that are overlooked, I go on and on.Yes, fine arts are important and so are practical arts in therapy and in our lives.
mlmcg

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@mlmcg You are absolutely right and I agree, anything creative can be healing therapy. The important thing is just to do something because it's in the doing that we feel so connected and valued. I share art and music with open arms for anyone who wants to receive it, and I also really appreciate art made by others and I learn from it. I see it as another way to solve the problem of how to say something that there are no words for, and it recharges to me. My work comes from my heart and the only person I compete with is myself… to make the next painting closer to the picture I've already painted in my head. I started out at the beginning too like everyone else, but what was different was not my coordination and skill, it was the way I looked at the world. It was the questions I asked myself about what I was seeing and why things are the way they are. It was looking for how colors bounce off each other and how light dances around an object. It was looking for the relationships and connections in the world around me and why it matters. Anyone can do that and find meaning in something. That is how I look at the world, and having art in my environment is uplifting to me. When I walked into Mayo for the first time it felt like an art museum to me, and for the time that it engaged me, I forgot about the medical problem that brought me there. Other people seemed to be uplifted too. That was a welcome relief from the worries that I had.

What I can say is that my creative outlet came out of loneliness as a child, and the fears that I had. I could always express myself with pencils or paint and I would spend hours in my room doing that. Being in my room was a safe place to be. I also came the long way to fine art as a career because my parents discouraged it. They wanted me to be a doctor, and I earned a biology degree, but I decided that wasn't what I really wanted, so I worked in a university research lab for awhile, before I left to go to art school. At the time, I was healing a broken heart, and wanted to reinvent myself, so art was therapy then too. I went in thinking I was pretty good, but soon learned I had a lot to learn. The assignments were hard, and I lacked the skills to do them and I had strict deadlines. What I learned was how to fail which is a good thing because I learned from failure. Failure actually is a gift if you learn from it.

My story is one of overcoming my absolute greatest fear and using art and music to do that in order to heal. I had a choice to make. I was loosing the ability to hold my arms up and control them because of spinal cord compression from an old injury. I had worked so hard to get to where I was, and I was loosing what I loved to do the most. 5 surgeons turned me down before I came to Mayo. My case had some unusual symptoms, and no one wanted to help me. If I didn't get medical help I would have become disabled, and I was already at greater risk for paralysis. So when I came to Mayo, I brought a painting with me to show the surgeon what I needed to be able to do again so he would understand why it mattered. I really was afraid of being turned away again, but he liked my painting and took interest in it. I needed to find a way to connect with him so I wouldn't be afraid of him, and I returned to sketching as a way to address that by sketching my surgeon and he gave me his permission. I only draw and paint what I love, and this was a game to convince myself that everything would be OK. I needed to be able to embrace the surgery that I needed and had feared for so long. That is how I started down a path that lead to painting a portrait in gratitude for the surgeon who saved my ability to paint, and who preserved the fine motor control in my hands.

I used all the life experience that I had to understand my dilemma and confront my fear to make the choice to go forward with major surgery. I am so glad. This was life changing for me. I used to think that I didn't have the courage, but somewhere inside, I found it. I had to rehab after my recovery and practice again to get back what I had lost. I still have to take breaks when I tire, as painting is physical, and I am still trying to rebuild muscle that was lost in my arms and shoulders, but I have a goal that drives me. I share my experience in hopes to inspire others in what is possible. Every journey is different, so we can't compare ourselves to others. I didn't choose the hardships that have come my way in my life, but I learned from them, and all of that has shaped me into the person I am today. That is what creativity can do. It gives you the power to make a difference in your own life. I think of art as a lot of things, not only the fine arts, but also music, theater, laughter, appreciating nature, gardening, home decorating, and most of all for the connections that come from participating as both a performer and a spectator. ©

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@jenniferhunter

@mlmcg You are absolutely right and I agree, anything creative can be healing therapy. The important thing is just to do something because it's in the doing that we feel so connected and valued. I share art and music with open arms for anyone who wants to receive it, and I also really appreciate art made by others and I learn from it. I see it as another way to solve the problem of how to say something that there are no words for, and it recharges to me. My work comes from my heart and the only person I compete with is myself… to make the next painting closer to the picture I've already painted in my head. I started out at the beginning too like everyone else, but what was different was not my coordination and skill, it was the way I looked at the world. It was the questions I asked myself about what I was seeing and why things are the way they are. It was looking for how colors bounce off each other and how light dances around an object. It was looking for the relationships and connections in the world around me and why it matters. Anyone can do that and find meaning in something. That is how I look at the world, and having art in my environment is uplifting to me. When I walked into Mayo for the first time it felt like an art museum to me, and for the time that it engaged me, I forgot about the medical problem that brought me there. Other people seemed to be uplifted too. That was a welcome relief from the worries that I had.

What I can say is that my creative outlet came out of loneliness as a child, and the fears that I had. I could always express myself with pencils or paint and I would spend hours in my room doing that. Being in my room was a safe place to be. I also came the long way to fine art as a career because my parents discouraged it. They wanted me to be a doctor, and I earned a biology degree, but I decided that wasn't what I really wanted, so I worked in a university research lab for awhile, before I left to go to art school. At the time, I was healing a broken heart, and wanted to reinvent myself, so art was therapy then too. I went in thinking I was pretty good, but soon learned I had a lot to learn. The assignments were hard, and I lacked the skills to do them and I had strict deadlines. What I learned was how to fail which is a good thing because I learned from failure. Failure actually is a gift if you learn from it.

My story is one of overcoming my absolute greatest fear and using art and music to do that in order to heal. I had a choice to make. I was loosing the ability to hold my arms up and control them because of spinal cord compression from an old injury. I had worked so hard to get to where I was, and I was loosing what I loved to do the most. 5 surgeons turned me down before I came to Mayo. My case had some unusual symptoms, and no one wanted to help me. If I didn't get medical help I would have become disabled, and I was already at greater risk for paralysis. So when I came to Mayo, I brought a painting with me to show the surgeon what I needed to be able to do again so he would understand why it mattered. I really was afraid of being turned away again, but he liked my painting and took interest in it. I needed to find a way to connect with him so I wouldn't be afraid of him, and I returned to sketching as a way to address that by sketching my surgeon and he gave me his permission. I only draw and paint what I love, and this was a game to convince myself that everything would be OK. I needed to be able to embrace the surgery that I needed and had feared for so long. That is how I started down a path that lead to painting a portrait in gratitude for the surgeon who saved my ability to paint, and who preserved the fine motor control in my hands.

I used all the life experience that I had to understand my dilemma and confront my fear to make the choice to go forward with major surgery. I am so glad. This was life changing for me. I used to think that I didn't have the courage, but somewhere inside, I found it. I had to rehab after my recovery and practice again to get back what I had lost. I still have to take breaks when I tire, as painting is physical, and I am still trying to rebuild muscle that was lost in my arms and shoulders, but I have a goal that drives me. I share my experience in hopes to inspire others in what is possible. Every journey is different, so we can't compare ourselves to others. I didn't choose the hardships that have come my way in my life, but I learned from them, and all of that has shaped me into the person I am today. That is what creativity can do. It gives you the power to make a difference in your own life. I think of art as a lot of things, not only the fine arts, but also music, theater, laughter, appreciating nature, gardening, home decorating, and most of all for the connections that come from participating as both a performer and a spectator. ©

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What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it with everyone and for continuing to use your innate talents.

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Thanks, Harriet. I appreciate your comment.

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@jenniferhunter

@mlmcg You are absolutely right and I agree, anything creative can be healing therapy. The important thing is just to do something because it's in the doing that we feel so connected and valued. I share art and music with open arms for anyone who wants to receive it, and I also really appreciate art made by others and I learn from it. I see it as another way to solve the problem of how to say something that there are no words for, and it recharges to me. My work comes from my heart and the only person I compete with is myself… to make the next painting closer to the picture I've already painted in my head. I started out at the beginning too like everyone else, but what was different was not my coordination and skill, it was the way I looked at the world. It was the questions I asked myself about what I was seeing and why things are the way they are. It was looking for how colors bounce off each other and how light dances around an object. It was looking for the relationships and connections in the world around me and why it matters. Anyone can do that and find meaning in something. That is how I look at the world, and having art in my environment is uplifting to me. When I walked into Mayo for the first time it felt like an art museum to me, and for the time that it engaged me, I forgot about the medical problem that brought me there. Other people seemed to be uplifted too. That was a welcome relief from the worries that I had.

What I can say is that my creative outlet came out of loneliness as a child, and the fears that I had. I could always express myself with pencils or paint and I would spend hours in my room doing that. Being in my room was a safe place to be. I also came the long way to fine art as a career because my parents discouraged it. They wanted me to be a doctor, and I earned a biology degree, but I decided that wasn't what I really wanted, so I worked in a university research lab for awhile, before I left to go to art school. At the time, I was healing a broken heart, and wanted to reinvent myself, so art was therapy then too. I went in thinking I was pretty good, but soon learned I had a lot to learn. The assignments were hard, and I lacked the skills to do them and I had strict deadlines. What I learned was how to fail which is a good thing because I learned from failure. Failure actually is a gift if you learn from it.

My story is one of overcoming my absolute greatest fear and using art and music to do that in order to heal. I had a choice to make. I was loosing the ability to hold my arms up and control them because of spinal cord compression from an old injury. I had worked so hard to get to where I was, and I was loosing what I loved to do the most. 5 surgeons turned me down before I came to Mayo. My case had some unusual symptoms, and no one wanted to help me. If I didn't get medical help I would have become disabled, and I was already at greater risk for paralysis. So when I came to Mayo, I brought a painting with me to show the surgeon what I needed to be able to do again so he would understand why it mattered. I really was afraid of being turned away again, but he liked my painting and took interest in it. I needed to find a way to connect with him so I wouldn't be afraid of him, and I returned to sketching as a way to address that by sketching my surgeon and he gave me his permission. I only draw and paint what I love, and this was a game to convince myself that everything would be OK. I needed to be able to embrace the surgery that I needed and had feared for so long. That is how I started down a path that lead to painting a portrait in gratitude for the surgeon who saved my ability to paint, and who preserved the fine motor control in my hands.

I used all the life experience that I had to understand my dilemma and confront my fear to make the choice to go forward with major surgery. I am so glad. This was life changing for me. I used to think that I didn't have the courage, but somewhere inside, I found it. I had to rehab after my recovery and practice again to get back what I had lost. I still have to take breaks when I tire, as painting is physical, and I am still trying to rebuild muscle that was lost in my arms and shoulders, but I have a goal that drives me. I share my experience in hopes to inspire others in what is possible. Every journey is different, so we can't compare ourselves to others. I didn't choose the hardships that have come my way in my life, but I learned from them, and all of that has shaped me into the person I am today. That is what creativity can do. It gives you the power to make a difference in your own life. I think of art as a lot of things, not only the fine arts, but also music, theater, laughter, appreciating nature, gardening, home decorating, and most of all for the connections that come from participating as both a performer and a spectator. ©

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@jenniferhunter This is a beautiful post Jennifer, and allows us to peek into how you tick! A long time ago, an Elder would tell me "it's all in your head". As I have come to realize, so much of my problems that I have physically can be exacerbated by my mental health. Being able to express yourself in whatever form is comfortable for you can be positive and healing. We cannot limit ourselves to what Society deems is positive. For some of us just getting up in the morning is the big positive for the day, and that's alright. Let's celebrate all the different ways that we can express ourselves be it in action or arts or just being! We are all we can be at this moment, and strive to be better when that's possible.
Ginger

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@gingerw

@jenniferhunter This is a beautiful post Jennifer, and allows us to peek into how you tick! A long time ago, an Elder would tell me "it's all in your head". As I have come to realize, so much of my problems that I have physically can be exacerbated by my mental health. Being able to express yourself in whatever form is comfortable for you can be positive and healing. We cannot limit ourselves to what Society deems is positive. For some of us just getting up in the morning is the big positive for the day, and that's alright. Let's celebrate all the different ways that we can express ourselves be it in action or arts or just being! We are all we can be at this moment, and strive to be better when that's possible.
Ginger

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Well said, Ginger! It's being present in the moment when we chose to be mindful of all the goodness we have in our lives. Just stop and feel it… It is true that we can destroy our health with worry and stress. We can also celebrate our lives and be grateful. It's a choice we make for ourselves. I believe that as patients, we really do have some power over our healing and recovery if we believe in the possibility.

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The Arts are so underappreciated we do not understand the importance they are in our lives. When I was in high school it was only those who were not going to make it in life that took any of The Arts classes. Thanks to 4H I cooked, canned, sewed, arranged flowers, "made" pictures, and painted ceramics. It wasn't until I got to college that I found out that The Arts wasn't just drawing and painting. Over the years I have taken enough classes in fine and practical arts that I could have a bachelor's degree in fine and applied arts, if there were such a thing. I have never taught art even though that was my major, I just did it. Art was and is my hobby and now my physical therapy.

I want to thank everyone for sharing their own "need" for The Arts. (We forget about the cave paintings made by early "man", women could have made the paints while the men were out hunting.) Your comments were all Liked. Thank you, Happy Arting.

mlmcg

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@jenniferhunter

For those who havene't seen the art work at Mayo that's seems to be everywhere, here is an article with some of it. I really liked the Dale Chihuly glass that hangs over a staircase in the Gonda building. https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/10/24/mayo-clinic-art-collection-healing-medicine-

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When a friend heard that my doctors were considering sending me to Mayo for a consult, She told me that I had to find time to see the Chihuly glass.
I enjoy it every time that I am at Mayo.

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Thanks for the like Rosemary.

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@harriethodgson1

Thanks for the like Rosemary.

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Harriet, I like this discussion very much. I feel so fortunate to be able to identify with the emotions and the need for art in our lives that are being discussed here.

My first exposure to the arts at Mayo was after I spent 21 straight days hospitalized. The first 5 days were in my regional ICU and then I spent the remaining 16 days in Mayo Methodist after being transported by air. I will always remember when my husband pushed my wheelchair thru the Ghonda Lobby because it was an extreme change from the hospital environment. The sights, sounds, the magnificent marble patterns, and the sunlight's ever changing effect on colors made it my favorite resting place. I spent nearly 11 weeks in Rochester, and I always drew strength from the art and the music.

My own dear mother dabbled in art and was quite good. Her main love was as a seamstress. From her I learned to sew and to work on all sorts of needle projects. I have just finished sewing a bathrobe for granddaughter for her birthday. I know I could go out and buy one, but I dearly love that I could make her one that is especially for her (5 yrs old). How many 5 yr old girls will have a soft bathrobe that is covered with hedgehogs! that grandma made.

After my transplant, I picked up my violin again. I am a work-in-progress. It is something that I enjoy. I am able to share it with others because I play every Sunday at my church. It is my gift to the many dear members who supported me during my own failing health; it is a way to celebrate my new life with them, too.

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A hedgehog bathrobe is special. I had to give up singing (used to sing solos) because my high-tech hearing aids turned off when the bases in the choir boomed from the back. Yes, I miss singing very much and actually dream about singing solos again. I don't do craft projects anymore. However, I still love to cook, still write books and articles, still give talks, workshops, and webinars. Many people have asked me who decorated our town home and the answer is, "Me." I have an MA in art education and took many fine art courses in graduate school. Everything I see and do is through an art lens, the foundation of my life.

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