Art is vital in my work and I present it in different forms depending on who I’m with and the specific setting. I may use art for pure expression, self-awareness and reflection, community support, as a form of therapy, or as a spiritual practice. For several years I’ve been exploring the idea of ‘art ritual’. An art ritual is a creative exercise that is performed to encourage healing and/or growth. It can be done by oneself, or be performed with a small or large group. I especially like to incorporate art rituals when working with difficult issues such as grief or trauma. But art rituals can be used for simple everyday challenges in order to create sacred time to listen to one’s inner life and allow the creative process to unfold.
I have no doubt that art is medicinal, and when we bring intention and focus to our art making it brings gifts of insight, renewal, connection, power, trust and a clearer vision. Writer Rainer Maria Rilke states, ‘We must give birth to our images, they are the future waiting to be born.’ Creating an art ritual is about the process, not about the product so it is important to take any pressure off of doing it ‘right’ or being ‘creative’. All you need to do is be present.
The components to create a personal art ritual are as follows:
1) Set an Intention for yourself. Why are you engaging in this art ritual? It can be basic i.e. Make a Decision about… Decrease my Stress around… Find my Courage in order to…. And it can address bigger intentions such as Heal from this Painful Relationship or Let Go of Grief and Sadness. ( Write your intention down so you remember it.)
2) List the Creative Activities that you can use for your art ritual, for example:
Drawing in my sketchpad
Write a poem in my journal
Play a song or sing a song
Dance in silence or with specific music
Or use the art forms you prefer…
3) Order the Activities so you have a clear beginning, middle and end. Decide how long you will do each activity. Here is a simple framework:
Intention: Find More Courage and Less Fear
– Start with a moment of silence and state the intention out loud
- Draw my fear, let it come out in an abstract way (5 minutes)
- Draw my idea of courage for 5 minutes, see what colors and shapes show up
- Shake off my fear in movement (2 minutes)
- Write a poem in honor of my courage (5 minutes)
- End with a moment of silence and a deep breath
4) Remove any Distractions. Find a quiet place to do your ritual at home or outdoors. Turn off your cell phone, computer and any other distractions.
5) Perform your Ritual! You can perform your ritual once, over time if you want to reinforce it, or as a practice. Note: If it doesn’t feel quite right the first time, you can always re-shape the activities it and do it again.
Questions? Want me to help you create your own Art Ritual or design one for a group? I’m only an email away, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This art ritual practice takes inspiration from a method of organizing creativity called scoring that is derived from the RSVP cycles created by Lawrence Halprin and Anna Halprin.