A growing body of research in neuroscience shows a powerful connection between arts education and increased cognitive, social and emotional development.
This was something I understood intuitively well before I deepened my understanding formally. Applying it to my life has radically shifted the paradigm I now live in.
When we understand the value that art--in any form or medium-- has on human development and healing, it creates a two-fold responsibility:
We must ensure that our youth have access to educational opportunities that integrate the arts in innovative ways to better support them in formulating and synthesizing their unique genius.
We must also give greater attention to cultivating creativity-- and unplanned "down time"-- in our own lives to better resource our minds and nervous systems in crucial ways.
The old adage that knowledge is power has shifted. In and age when we are bombarded with more information per day than a human system can process, knowledge means nothing without application. In fact, information without the ability or resources to apply it can cause distress.
One of the most powerful tools we can implement is a healthy level of curiosity for creative endeavors that ask us to slow down into the present moment. Simple activities like coloring, gardening, joyful movement, cooking and countless more are all openings to greater ease and mindfulness in the present.
The ability to shift into a mode that focuses more on being than doing releases neurotransmitters and hormones that ease stress, allowing us to recalibrate our nervous system.
When we are relaxed we are more open to seeing creative possibilities. Fresh perspectives become available and even while we might be in the midst of stressful circumstances, we discover new resources from within that allow us to grow through the challenges in our lives.
Art supports us in growing through what we go through, which is why it's important to expand our definition of art (especially if we don't identify with the label of artist). Everyone is an artist on some level. The question is to what extent you want to co-create your reality. Luckily or unluckily depending on the day and our perspective, this is an inside-out job.
My challenge for you: make some time today to relax and do nothing. See what hidden urges emerge and notice what there is to notice. For example, do you find yourself organizing a closet or sitting on the floor capturing photos of how the light pours in your window?
These are creative acts and they just might hold potent incubation that could lead to your next breakthrough or energetic shift.