I held the Artist~Healer Circle guest post series last year because I was curious to explore how art and healing connect for those who identify as Artists and Healers.
I identify as both an Artist and a Healer (aka. How I Came Up With: Artist~Healer). Both labels have made me uncomfortable at times, and identification with labels is not really top priority for me, but when beginning to create and live a sustainable, supporting practice, these nuances come up. My hesitancy to identify with either in the past has been, in part, because my experience with these titles runs much deeper than a label, degree, certification, credential, medium, therapy, class, etc etc, - even though I have some of those that relate. I just feel strongly, and intuitively, that these roles are about more than all of that. They are about a way of being... but I had never before tried to bridge this feeling with tangible discussion, so I started the Artist~Healer Circle to get minds spinning and sharing - and boy, did they deliver some beautiful offerings of insight.
A curious theme, amidst some of the contributors, was that some were surprised when I asked them to contribute, because they weren't sure they fit in. They identified as one, perhaps, but not necessarily as the other. Their surprise surprised me, because I felt they were modeling beautifully some morsel of truth about being both an Artist and Healer - it seemed obvious on the outside, but not so obvious to them. This awareness has deepened my conviction that this discussion is a powerful one to have...
... it seems that not only do artists often wonder if they are really artists at all, but so do people who initiate and assist healing wonder if they are healers.
We all desire to thrive in the world using our greatest gifts, and when we begin to understand and cultivate what those are (often beginning with the reflection others offer to us), we naturally begin to learn how to help others do the same simply by loving and living from our wholehearted truth.
As for calling myself an "Artist" - well, I guess I've always known myself as this (even during a few dark years of doubt).
But for me, "Healer" has been particularly uncomfortable at times, and still can be. Even after years as a nurse - and maybe more acutely so because of that experience. - and even though I played the role of healer at times long before I was a nurse.
There are a lot of connotations and opinions with both of these words, artist and healer... but luckily we are seeing a more expanded understanding beginning to emerge as people wise up to the value of experience over information, formal education and conceptual ping-pong.
Part of my own discomfort with "Healer", though, has been because I have this blessed way of believing and seeing how two seemingly contradictory truths can be simultaneously true. (Did I mention mental ping-pong yet?) As you can imagine, this can be a temporary cause of many hang-ups, and possibly a reasonable reason for some to call me 'fickle'. I do not consider it a sign of weakness at all, though. In fact, I've learned that it brings me a deeper sense of empathy and a greater ability to connect and understand the perspective of others.
Double-truths, or Infinitely-true "contradictions" are a captivating song of our mysterious Universe. I just happen to be enamored by the shining twinkle of this beautiful melody.
"Healing" has been one of those shiny multi-truth understandings for me, based on vast experiences witnessing what it can mean to heal or not.
You see, I believe that we do not need healing at all. While I also know that sometimes we do.
I also believe that no one person can heal another - that we are only truly capable of healing ourselves. Yet I know, have witnessed, and have experienced how we can be profoundly catapulted into our own healing by a sensitive healer. And sometimes the truth is even stickier than that: sometimes we believe so deeply that we need a healer to heal us, that indeed we do require one to 'turn on' or reset that ability within ourselves.
Which, I feel, is all a way of saying that sometimes what we need most is to be heard, to be seen, to be touched, to be believed, to be worth the Time - in order to begin the deep work of healing and allowing the experience of our Self as Whole.
In truth, I believe that most of the time what we need most when we sense our own need for healing is very simply this: Presence.
In Presence, we are healed. In Presence, we heal each other. In Presence, we connect to something bigger than ourselves - and like a battery to an outlet, we receive a charge that powers our own capacity to heal, thrive, allow and grow.
My grandmother recently told me that even as a toddler I was deeply compassionate, concerned for others, and spiritually caring. She said I always wanted to help and had a gift for making people feel better.
My mother also said to me, not that long ago, that I was a nurse in many ways my whole life - that it came natural to me, and that I need not work in a hospital or conventional setting to express or be this 'healer' that is simply part of who I am as an artist.
It was when I worked as a nurse, however, that I became acutely aware that the only thing that truly 'heals' someone who is suffering is Presence. This is not about curing the body of symptom or disease (though often this can be a side-effect of healing work). This is about where it begins, the Source of our healing and where we return to the experience of connection.
This is about deep, raw Presence to Self, and Presence to each other... and these are not independent of one another.
It includes being with All that we bring , right where we are- the muck-sludge and the gold, the stories and the hopes, the shadows we cast and the light we shine, the quiet truth of Now. Sometimes this is just about being Present enough to notice when we or another person need some space with that Now.
We ache for this. We NEED to be seen. And we need to have the courage to rise up and SEE.
It is a cyclical pattern of raising the roof on healing that goes beyond where we've been trained and what classes we've taken or books we've read, what CE credits we got, how many certification titles we can post behind our name, how many empty hours we put in, or what attunements we've received... . It asks something much much deeper of us... that we practice, again and again. That we EXPERIENCE each other.
It asks that we stop holding ourselves back from seeing and being seen.
Everytime we offer one or the other we are deeply vulnerable, yes - but vulnerable because we are Present and not pretending to be any more than we are.
In those moments we become that which we need, and we begin to empower one another toward collective empathy, by daring ourselves to look at exactly where we are, exactly what we are doing... and to see where it hurts, where we thrive, where we shine, where we fall short, where our capacity lies, and where our tending is required.
In that SEEING, we are called innately to ACT, to change, to shift and choose, to create, to simplify, to heal... the only thing we can: Our Self.
This type of vulnerable Presence is an ART. It is a strength to be exercised.
Sometimes I feel this whole life is about cultivating a practice and understanding of what it means to BE Presence.
Every interaction and environment and thought is like a medium to try or a skill to refine and experiment with. And it is oh-so-colorful and full of surprises.
But when it comes right down to it, it is most juicy and effective when it just FLOWS. Just like in art-making.
We may not all agree on the most moving artworks we've ever seen, and it is certainly hard to describe just what it is that attracts us to some art pieces... but we know it when we feel it.
It's that momentary sweet spot of time, when nothing else exists, and you are transported into that feeling. It's the same feeling an artist gets in the flow of making an artwork. It's the same feeling when an exchange of deep Presence is shared between two people - so deep that there is a healing shift.
What we love, what we ache for, what calls us forth to grow and try and participate is this feeling, I believe. This flow. When we open ourselves and trust in its power, it can show up like a river, and it works through us. It is wise in a way we may not be made to comprehend - but we don't have to 'get' it. We just have to give it a chance.
It humbles me, it teaches me, it helps and heals me, and it allows me to be helpful to others - even when I'm not aware of how.
The best I have to offer is a commitment to Practice this Openness and to Let it MOVE me.
Because there is no healing without movement. Everything in nature requires energetic flow to transform and play its special role, even the rocks.
It is in this movement, this flow, that art can be the healing catalyst - certainly for the artist, but also in this: Art made with this energy has the ability to trigger "movement" in others. A little momentum can, in turn, inspire great acts of openness and expanded awareness. We really are all in this together.
So, I am an Artist. An Intuitive Artist, to be specific. This I've always *felt*.
I am also a Healer. I always have been by a nature that others have easily seen clearly in me.
Both of these 'roles' have and will continue to shape-shift in outwardly form, but at their essence, they are practices fueled by the same undeniable heartbeat of Presence and Spirit.
It is a heartbeat that heals. It is a heartbeat that creates.