Much has been written about creativity and its ability to heal ailing spirits. Julia Cameron has written about it extensively with her Artist’s Way series. There have also been many studies about the mind/body link and its causal relationship regarding health (case in point, Norman Cousins). But, what I’m most interested in is another area of research: creativity and its relation to overall health and whether the creative process can actually heal illness. Does working in clay affect my health in a direct and beneficial way? Can I paint my way to improved health? Can creativity cure?
There’s quite a bit on the web about creativity and health for the aged and here’s an article from MSNBC: “Creativity may play key role in healthy aging: Do singing, painting, and other pursuits have health benefits?” The next is from the Washington Post: “Studies Suggest There’s An Art to Getting Older: Creative Activity May Have Health Benefits.” This is inspiring, but what about a connection between creativity and health that isn’t related to a specific age range?
Creativity, biofeedback and meditation are all practices that affect brain waves. Have you ever noticed that when you are fully immersed in the creative process, you enter a different state? We are completely in the zone and even our perception of time changes! I remember the first time I noticed it. A teenager living at home, I was downstairs working for hours on a painting. At some point, my Mom called down to me and I was jolted back into the ‘real world.’ Much time had elapsed, but to me it only seemed like minutes! An altered sense of time is one of the ‘by-products’ of this brain wave shift. With awareness, we can recognize that state when we are experiencing it. It is the Theta brain wave state.
Meditative states are achieved with both Alpha and Theta brain waves, but highly creative states can only be achieved with Theta brain waves. Theta waves promote creativity. In addition, there are supplements that can help create the Theta state, too, and they all relax or calm a person. So, there is the connection between Theta brain waves and healing, but again I wonder if there is also a demonstrable link between healing and creativity. If Theta waves promote creativity and healing, is the idea of a link between creative involvement and healing far fetched? Research about Neurobiology and creativity are still very much in their infancy, but I think the future will reveal direct links between creativity and health, even cures.
So, my journey continues. I will further investigate Theta waves, healing and creativity and I will get back to my biofeedback. Once I’m in a more mindful state, it is sure to help not only my creativity, but health. If anyone is interested, Herbert Benson’s classic, The Relaxation Response, is a gem of a book for anyone who wants to learn to meditate by regulating your breathing.