Healing your Pain using Vision

Focus outside yourself. Enjoy your surroundings
Focus outside yourself. Enjoy your surroundings where ever you are.

Bit by bit, image by image, our society explores visual communication, with the speed of light. With Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat leading the way we sustain simple interactive communication, studies monitor the impact of images on our learning and feelings–a long-standing phenomenon from the earliest works of art. The cliche’ of a picture, being worth a thousand words, comes to mind when an image draws us into the expressed scene and we  look and say “Ah, this is something beautiful, I love it.” Visual art, whether it is sculpture, painting, a relief, or some kind of photographic print, has always had the unique ability to create both immediate and lasting tactile experiences. Vision is responsible for this.

We also experience pain through the senses, some conditions, migraine headaches,  are even tied to the visual senses and intensified or lessened through lights and colors. Our bodies can and with practice use this important sense of sight to actually provide pain relief, as we use memories or current experiences of beautiful images or places we’ve experienced or seen to remove us from the pain. Whatever visual experience that brings you joy can be used to bring comfort. The image can make one smile, “Ah, I can walk into that forest, I can go by that stream,” Plus it helps one think about something besides the pain.  Sight can change our emotional state.

The Power of Vision

Vision is so powerful that we can sense what the world looks like, even with eyes closed. The sense of sight is in our own brain. Thus, vision allows us to make our own healing images, also known as creative visualization or guided imagery. Both are well-documented healing techniques, and we can “Go to our happy place,” when we are in pain.  The journey to “our happy place” relies upon our ability to have inner sight. First, we use a memory to make our happy place.  [I particularly like a memory of being able to float in clear water by a tropical island. The water was warm but even more important, I looked up and I saw the beautiful blue sky. It was a very particular blue I will never forget.]

For me, I associate that blue color with healing to this day. It’s very important in your healing journey to find what colors are actually relaxing and they make you feel calm, and they make you feel in a very upbeat mood. And what colors are difficult for you to look at. I lived in New York City for a long time and almost everyone was dressed in black. And some people say that’s a very relaxing color. Everyone looks good in it. You look thinner in black, but when it comes to actually does that actually make you feel healed? Maybe or maybe not. It didn’t make me feel better. So I found that if I wore something that was purple or if I saw a lot of green, especially natural greens were calming.  Research shows when you look at plants and even just green it calms. Perhaps it evokes a memory of a time when we were living with green all around us.

sight’s Healing Properties

Scientists have just begun to understand the healing properties of sight. But we know intuitively how a visit a waterfall, a lake or the beach makes us feel. Take a trip to an art museum and just walk around and see what speaks to you. Is it photography? Is it painting? Is it sculpture? Find things that make us feel happy when looking at them and then remember them.

Have we ever noticed how much watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset relaxes us after a long day? That is because it is very therapeutic. People delight in sight marvels consciously and subconsciously.

While it is common knowledge that light enters through our eyes, it’s important to note that light also enters through our skin. Given the unique frequencies and vibrations of various colors, recent research has shown that we can use the energy from the sun just like plants do.  And that certain colors entering the body can activate hormones causing chemical reactions within the body, then influencing emotion and enabling the body to heal.

Vision makes changes to how we feel about things. For example, the sensory information that contributes to a sense of taste does not come solely from the tongue. The appearance of food matters as well – not just in making us want to take a bite, but in determining how that bite actually tastes.

Creativity and vision

Unfortunately, being creative using art or crafts such as coloring, drawing, painting, and creatively playing has become taboo in today’s world. Doing an activity like coloring drawing actually helps with pain. These are all things people love to do as hobbies, so why not use it to better ourselves and show ourselves some love? Break away from that social expectation, and see how freeing it is to let our creativity flow.

Many people in pain can stand (or sit) to use some sort of creative outlet. And we need not be “afraid” of expressing ourselves through art. Though it may seem different and unnatural at first, it is typically because we are not used to communicating via the arts.

The creative process involved in expressing ourselves artistically can help us to develop and manage behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness. And the great thing is we don’t need to be talented or an artist to receive benefits and we can dive into the underlying messages communicated through art, which will aid in the healing process.

References
Person-centered pain management – science and art
The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature
Marine turns to art therapy to stop the pain
Readout of Second Lady Karen Pence’s visit to the National Museum of Health and Medicine
Interested in Art therapy 
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