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Dr. Richard Isaacson

Art, Music, and Wellness

From intricate landscape portraits to finger-painting, Chopin to Lady Gaga, art and music provoke spiritual well being. Even before hospitals hired musicians to perform for traumatized veterans during World War I and II, individuals have been using art and music—extensions of the human soul—to cultivate positive changes within themselves and relations with the outside world. While some of us are recovering from an eating disorder and some of us are wounded from a lost love, these difficult experiences develop our unique preferences and deeply connect us to people, images, and sounds exuding a common struggle or hope. Therefore, one does not require particular art or music ability to benefit.

Explore personal feelings

Spiritual healing requires harmonizing the many aspects of being human—gifted with the ability to experience and create. Art and music generate personal exploration through self expression or delving into one’s spiritual agony with seeing or listening. Channeling art and music solidifies how outside sources impact one’s life. Self expression reveals the sources of personal struggle, examining who or what situations spark spiritual discomfort. By discovering the hindrances of wellness, one has the potential to avoid or manage such triggers in the future.
Meanwhile, creating a new masterpiece transforms inner rage, pain, or emotional baggage into something tangible.  Hopes and fears can be transcribed for the first time, feelings that should not be ignored or suffocated. Rather, these basic human feelings should be managed and celebrated through creativity. In this sense, self expression serves as a simple reminder of the healing process.

Even if one does not have the technical ability to write a ballad or paint a self portrait, most people can use their senses to connect a piece’s emotion or content to their own struggle. We all know a song that reminds us of our childhood best friend; well all know an image that provokes happiness or guilt. After all, we are all connected through art and music despite our varied skill levels.

Make positive changes in confidence and mood

Art and music’s facilitation of self esteem and stress-reduction potentially allows everyone to work through any source of spiritual trauma. Something as simple as learning the words to a meaningful song or hanging your drawing on the refrigerator generates self esteem. Starting and completing any task, and experiencing the finished product, produces an irreplaceable sense of productivity and worth. Likewise, after studying or creating a piece, one can enjoy the product and possibly share it with his or her loved ones. As stated in Into the Wild, “Happiness is only real when shared.” For this reason, I encourage you to share your humanistic gifts to anyone willing to see or listen, for we all have the ability to be touch and spiritually uplifted with the universal languages of art and music.

Sense of control

The life-affirming pleasure of experiencing art and music construct a sense of control, especially in a time of disillusionment or disease. Although art and music connect people, they can also administer a sense of independent thought and actions. Away from appointments, away from family stress, away from society’s expectations, connecting with art and music puts the individual in control. No one can enforce what can be listened to, what colors are permitted, what should cultivate inspiration—the quest to spiritual wellness is an individual journey in this sense. Art and music provide control in a chaotic world.
However, the new orientations of time and location in visual and performing arts offer another source of independence. New depictions of the past, future, and even location enable one to temporarily escape his or her social bubble. Entering alternate realms allows people to realize there is a world beyond their personal struggles, disease, or agony. Art and music create a safe space for anyone to temporarily escape their own head or harsh reality into a meditative state where inner peace is possible. Art forms generate spiritual wellness with their ability to create alternate mindsets controlled by the viewer, listener, or composer in control.
We all interact with art and music on a daily basis.  However, few stop and think how these forms of expression not only look pretty or have a danceable beat, but they also provide spiritual wellness. By meditating to a soulful guitar solo or creating a sculpture of your adoptive mother, art and music cultivates both independence and connectivity to others. Although individual mental states can be tamed through art and music, people all share a common bond through experiences and emotion. Creating a masterpiece for your personal spirituality has the potential to create inspiration amongst those it is shared with. In any case, experiencing or producing art and music provokes spirituality amongst all skill levels. 

Article by:
Alexandria Bean

Alzheimer’s treatment


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