Healing Art Journaling Practices

Healing art journaling practices are fun and easy to learn.  If you are like me, you have kept a journal or diary at someart as therapy moments in life.  Journaling is wonderfully therapeutic and highly recommended for achieving balance in mind, body, and spirit.  If you have ever taken time to play with adult coloring pages, you will understand how relaxing and meditative creating can be.  I will share two of my favorite healing art journaling practices with you in this post.

If you keep an art diary, you will expand the healing power of journaling as you create art with meaning.

healing artAs the founder of SoulArt Meditation, I have seen the profound therapeutic benefits that come from creating art that heals the soul.

The Joy Within Organization teaches that journaling is a powerful tool for self-reflection.

Journaling creates an opportunity to be completely honest and process emotions.  

As humans, our experience is often beyond words.  It is all about feeling and sensing.  Creating art in an art journal can often reach places that are beyond your words.

Healing Art Journal Exercise  One – Naming your Emotions

Here is a powerful yet simple exercise.healing art

Use some type of flat surface book or art journal.  I liked mixed media art journals because the paper is thick.  These thick pages hold up beautifully to mix media techniques such as using crayons or colored pens, collating, and using sprays.

Open your art journal to a new page. 

Take pens, pencils, or crayons and simply begin to name the emotions you are feeling right now.

Imagine your thoughts as icebergs. The thought is what we see above the surface of the water. Beneath the surface, the much larger part is an emotion or feeling– or perhaps several emotions or feelings.

When you are at your best, you feel positive, happy, and confident.  You are open, centered, calm, and optimistic.

If you are like me, when you are not at your best, your feelings and emotions are the opposite of those listed above.  Negativity, self-doubt, irritability, and pessimism are typical.

One of my teachers is the psychologist Dan Siegel.  He refers to this practice as “name it to tame it.”  

Siegel explains that naming our emotions lessens their potency and decreases the burden they create.

healing artFor example, thinking about a long to-do list may bring emotions like anxiety, or guilt.  If we’re thinking about a disagreement, the underlying energy might be sadness or a feeling of abandonment.

What emotions are beneath your thoughts right now? If you are able to, name these emotions by writing them down in your art journal.

Naming the emotion can help identify what’s really going on within you.

For example, “I feel alone.   I don’t know what to do about it.  What if I tried to make some plans to connect with friends? What if my plans get rebuffed? Or what if I get something on the calendar and feel excited about the plans?  Now I’m starting to feel excited about the idea of connecting.”

Turn away from the story to the emotion and name the feeling.  This can reduce the potency of the emotion.  If you can say to yourself, “I feel sad,” for example, you may also notice other emotions lurking around that might feel less difficult. There is space for all emotions to coexist.

It is human to have emotions. See if you can allow your feelings to just be there. Just notice them.Healing Art

When you name your emotion in your art journal, you are fully experiencing it.  You can add colors or paste images or doodle something to acknowledge the feeling.

Notice if any fear comes up around doing that, which is very natural. If something feels traumatic or jarring and it doesn’t seem safe to feel it, please let it go for now.

Check-in with your higher wisdom for any guidance.  You can say; ‘I am open to receive.  Do you have any messages for me?’  

With your brush or pencil, notice if there’s a message from your Inner Guidance and include what comes to you in your art journal.

It could be, ‘I’m here with you.’ You may sense or hear: ‘It’s safe to feel this emotion.’ Or, ‘I’m doing my best at this moment.’

Include any messages in your art journal and decorate your page with love.  Work with gentleness and kindness toward yourself until you notice a shift. Then, let it go.

You can repeat this with as many feelings as you like and your journal is always there waiting for you.

In art journaling, there are no rules. 

healing artGive yourself the freedom to experiment and play.  You may surprise yourself!

Expressing and releasing emotions through art is a powerful healing practice.  

In a way, creating art is therapy.  You take something you feel compelled to express and create an original piece that your emotions transform into art.

These emotions will now be housed in your own private book that you can return to at any time.

Healing Art Journal Exercise  Two – Expressing Gratitude

There are many forms of gratitude journaling.  One practice is to ask yourself ‘What am I grateful for?’healing art

First, before you begin to art journal, take a few moments to close your eyes.  Mentally release any tension or stress.

Take a few minutes to settle in and breathe.  Just pay attention to your breath, taking time with each inhale and exhale until you reach a calm slow rhythm. 

Then, open your eyes and begin to write or paint in your art journal.  Allow your mind to hold the question ‘What am I Grateful For’? 

Find gratitude for the loved ones in your life.

You might recall interactions or conversations you have had. The hugs, smiles, or expressions of love you exchanged.

And as you do so, express gratitude for these moments of connection.  You can write down the names of the people you are thinking of, and any emotions you are feeling as a result.

With gratitude, express on your page the gifts you received from sharing your life with these others.

healing artPerhaps you think back to recent events with people in your life; those you have collaborated with.  Maybe someone recently thanked you for your thoughtfulness.  As you continue to recount connections, give your mind the freedom to roam. Simply let your mind flow unhindered.

Next, you might pay gratitude to your body. Think of everything it’s done to keep you safe and healthy. 

Write or paint, noting the processes that go on inside out of sight. 

Think about some memories that you have made recently. What will you remember in five years? In ten years? Consider the notable events that you experienced, even a small gift, a great meal, or a beautiful sunset will do. 

If your gratitude practice brings up emotions, remember to pay attention to your breath.

Simply breathe and return to the present for a few moments and then continue to explore your emotions once more when you’re ready.

Finally, express gratitude for all of the skills that you possess. Everything that you utilize in your daily life. Perhaps you’re especially good at solving problems, putting logic at work. 

Be grateful for this moment where you can call upon your creative side and make an original piece in your art journal.healing art

Appreciate all of your unique gifts and talents.  Write some down if that calls to you.

And finally, come back to the present moment and think of any other things you want to capture in this time of gratitude.  Write down any last thoughts in your art journal, knowing that you can come back at any time to decorate your pages or add more.

Read over your page and the wonderful feelings of thankfulness and fulfillment to course through you.

I hope you have enjoyed these two inspirations for art journaling.  

If you would like to learn more about your chakras and other areas of spiritual development, I invite you to explore SoulArt Meditation to find out more.

Thank you for reading this post. Feel free to share it.  Special thanks to Teresa Henke, Kathy Kellum, and Cheryl Thompson for sharing your healing art journal pages

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Jane Ramsey is an Executive Contributor for Brainz Magazine

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