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Healing self by drawing

“DRAWING- by DESIGN” 2 week Open elective course done with students of National Institute of Design.


The International Open Electives 2015 is a two week multi-disciplinary series of workshop, all offered around the theme of “Drawing — by Design’ at National Institute of Design campus. One Elective elective that was selected among the series was “ Healing SELF by Drawing”.

Although the key to healing lies in our ability to express and release our painful, stress-producing emotions, accessing these emotions isn’t always easy when we continue to do it in the only way we know how — using words. We try to talk about it, yell it out, get it off our chest, but in the end, the feelings remain. That’s because our left brain’s verbal language in only capable of expressing what we think we feel, while the real feelings often go unnoticed and unexpressed. To access our real feelings, we must use the right brain’s language of imagery.

Drawing by nature of it is three-step process of representation, expression and reflection. In summary, the creative experience of making art provides a tremendous opportunity for self-exploration, inner satisfaction and growth. The Drawing therapy can support the individual’s need to express and creatively transform the issues of pain and can help prevent some of the psychological, social and behavioral problems resulting from unresolved suffering. Additionally, the process of creating art together in a group format enhances the values of empathy and connection.

Drawing our feelings about an illness or distress experience improves the efficiency of the immune system. The workshop helped participants to give time to one self and helped to travel through the psychological roots of pain and illness to your own natural power to heal.

Building confidence to draw

12 students opted this course out of which many of them feel their drawing skills are not good enough.

After the first day interaction we started with basic drawing exercises which would help individuals to build enough confidence to draw and enjoy the experience of drawing as an act. The exercises included still lives, portraits, animal and plant drawings. We tried to understand drawing is a way of seeing things. Though we see the same thing, we see different things in them. Through learning to see, we see more. It don’t mean we’re particularly special, or that we’re born with a different way of perceiving the world. The kind of seeing we employ is learned. It’s at least partly — possibly mostly — that we habitually focus our attention more on what we see, and partly because we’re actively looking for different things.

It was important to make the participants realise that art or drawing is not an output that can attained by copying, or conforming to the given model. Art is not just skill. It is the process of thinking, imagining, risking, seeing connections, inventing, expressing in unique visual form.

Drawing is as basic and essential a mode of expression as is language and writing. Everyone can draw. And just as we all learn the same form of cursive writing but develop an individuality that develop an individuality that becomes our identification, so our drawing develops as individually as our writing. So my task was not to tell the student what it should look like; rather, the role is to lead the student to look. There is no absolute standard of good drawing. We have to understand every individual will see and record individually. So it was important to let free one self to draw and enjoy the process what one does without judging the result.

First day it was pure skill what it was perceived as drawing. But slowly there is some change in few who started enjoying the process . It was realized how differently each would see or visualise the same object. A “window” can be different to different people. Making an outline drawing of an animal and printing with a hand cut eraser pattern was exiting for the most. These exercises allowed each to open up as an individual, forget what they lack as skill and enjoy the process.

Discovering self by Meditation

Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.

Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.

Infact first day we started our class with meditation by asking the participants to concentrate on breathing. “How u breathe in and breath-out.” Almost everybody realized they could not as they were getting distracted by too many thoughts.Second day, we tried doing the same concentrating on some action. Keeping both the hands a feet away and getting them together as slow as possible may be in 10 minutes concentrating on the hands. This method has better results.

Third day we approached a method called Active meditation. Active meditation is a fast, intense and thorough way to break old, ingrained patterns in the body-mind that keep one imprisoned in the past, and to experience the freedom, the witnessing, silence and peace that are hidden behind these prison walls.

One should feel with in themselves that the whole of nature becomes alive, the night has gone, the sun is coming up and everything becomes conscious and alert.

Meditation exercices -

Active Meditation?

Modern man is a very new phenomenon. No traditional method can be used exactly as it exists because modern man never existed before. So, in a way, all traditional methods have become irrelevant.

For example, the body has changed so much. It is so drugged that no traditional method can be helpful. The whole atmosphere is artificial now: the air, the water, society and living conditions. Nothing is natural. You are born in artificiality; you develop in it. So traditional methods may prove no experience today. So there was a need to change the methods according to the modern situation.

We explored chaotic methods rather than systematic ones because a chaotic method is very helpful in pushing the center down from the brain. The center cannot be pushed down through any systematic method because systemization is brainwork. Through a systematic method, the brain will be strengthened; more energy will be added to it. Through chaotic methods the brain is nullified. It has nothing to do. The method is so chaotic that the center is automatically pushed from the brain to the heart. Once one follows the active meditation vigorously, unsystematically, chaotically, ones focus center moves to the heart. Then there is a catharsis (the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.)

A catharsis is needed because your heart is so suppressed, due to your brain. Your brain has taken over so much of your being that it dominates you. There is no place for the heart, so the longings of the heart are suppressed. You have never laughed heartily, never lived heartily, never done anything heartily. The brain always comes in to systematize, to make things mathematical, and the heart is suppressed. So a chaotic method is needed to push the center of consciousness from the brain toward the heart.

Then catharsis is needed to unburden the heart, to throw off suppressions, to make the heart open. If the heart becomes light and unburdened, then the center of consciousness is pushed still lower; it comes to the navel. The navel is the source of vitality, the seed source from which everything else comes: the body and the mind and everything.

Whenever one is in chaos, the brain stops working. For example, if you are driving a car and suddenly someone runs in front of you, you react so suddenly that it cannot be the work of the brain. The brain takes time. It thinks about what to do and what not to do. So whenever there is a possibility of an accident and you push the brake, you feel a sensation near your navel, as if it were your stomach that is reacting. Ones consciousness is pushed down to the navel because of the accident. If the accident could be calculated beforehand, the brain would be able to deal with it; but when one is in an accident, something unknown happens. Then it is noticed that our consciousness has moved to the navel.

Exploring inner self and killing the ego

In this busy world have we given enough time for ourselves ever to look into ourselves deep questioning self who I am. What is that I stand for; it is the body or it is something else.

Ego is the thinking, feeling and acting self that is conscious of itself and aware of its distinction from the selves of others and from the objects of its thought and other operations.

The word “distinction” is the key here. Making a distinction between others and ourselves implies that one or the other is inherently better. Our ego directs us to make distinction among our self and others, making us better than them in our own eyes. It is also the piece that makes us feel that we have some power, control or influence over things. It is the piece that gives importance to our personal opinions, to our grudges, to our desires.

It is this ego which will get us into trouble, restless, unhappy, jealous etc.

So we did few self exercises to understand ourselves deep like each were asked to draw more than 25 lines each first using a thin fine brush, meditate for five minutes, then a bold thick brush, meditate for five minutes, then the pointing finger, meditate for other five minutes and finally by hand. So when it comes to experience each liked different exercises. Some liked drawing with a finer brush, some with thicker brush, some with finger and a girl with hand and the body.

After deep meditation we did an exercise of expressing ones emotions when one is very happy or very sad by painting colours with hands. Closing eyes think of an incident what makes one very sad or very happy, Feeling the emotion to the core and painting an imperial sheet of paper with colours by hand letting self free.

These exercises surely could make most of the participants better and were ready do what was asked to tried out.

Our next exercise was to wet the hands and painting it on table thinking that we are painting with a definite colour or any material of the same colour and see how one feels about it. We tried painting with white, yellow, red, blue, green, brown, grey and black. There was a colour out of the list which one gets exited to paint with and one gets one down when painting. The colours impression varied from person to person. Somebody hate red so much that they are not able to paint the colour in the sub concious mind but never had any complaints on the red colour in the regular life.

Then we combined all the three exercises to make a self portrait. We took the the out line of the self portrait, the hand painting made with emotion and the colours one hate and one like the most. With these references, we tried making combinations like if it is a happy emotion try filling the background with the colour one like, a sad or an anger emotion try and fill the colour that was hated. The face is treated with the hand painting. There were different combinations tried to express self. For some when they got to know the final exercise they made the painting again and composed it in such a way that the painting is visually appealing. Ha ha ha… I know it is very difficult to realise and accept things in a just two week course.

Healing oneself

Healing is the process of the restoration of physical or mental health to an unbalanced, diseased or damaged organism. When we question an young star from what he/she has to get healed, the obvious answer would be they are fine, busy doing the daily routine. Will say was here to explore the what is healing about.

So we want to do the same exercise in an other way where one will learn about oneself, deep and better.

Every student was asked to write about themselves in 200 words. They were further asked to write what others think about them as a human. Information should be gathered from atleast 20 people out of which atleast 5 should be the people who the individual hate. It was a tough exercise and few participants could not take it. All the information is narrowed down to 5 words, out of which three words to reflect the positive side, one to reflect neutral side and one to reflect the negative side of the person.

Each participant should come up with 5 words that will portray the identity of the individual, based on the exercise done. Taking a word at a time, each participant has to come up with 50 optional things that he/ she could relate the character of the word to. The options can be a object or material or animal or plant or colour etc. anything which can be represented. Over all 5 objects that will lead to 250 options. Picking one from 50 options from each group and making interesting combinations that reflect oneself. Now by permutations and combinations of options one has many numerous ways of portraying themselves in the form of hand drawing or digital painting.

While doing exercises, few could come up with their own process of doing things begining from reprenting what they are to expressing themselves opening up day by day touching their subconcious thinking. The results were beautiful.

2 weeks is very less time to explore, learn and heal one self. But in this span of 10 days i actually tried to pass an experience where the participants can open up, look into themselves deeply and feel some peace. Drawing, art or any act to express themselves letting free by enjoying the process.

I always get on to the ground looking at an illustration done by Japanese farmer Fukuoko called “ the cave of the intellect” that shows two men toiling in a pit or a cave swinging their pickaxes to loosen the harden earth thatrepresent human intellect. The more the workers swing their tools , the deeper the pit gets and the more difficult it is for them to escape.

Scientists have historically assumed that it is acceptable to control nature using human will. Nature is seen as the “outside world”in opposition to humanity, this idea forms the basis of modern scientific civilisation.But this fictious “i” of Descartes who said “ i think, therefore i am” can never be comprehend the true state of reality. We may be the children of “mother nature” but are no longer able to see the true form of our mother. Just as we donot know ourselves deeper, we canot know the other.

We as smarter beings want to acquire everything that will have no ending, in the process we dont live in the present and could see many of us getting into depression. The reason could be we dont really give enough time for ourselves, looking at our innerself leading a life in which we enjoy the truth and beauty of nature, a life in which people, with freedom in their hearts, climb mountains, play in meadows, bathe in warm rays of sunlight, breathe pure air, drink crystalline water and experience the true joy of life. A real society in which people will create a free and generous community.

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