“Make no mistake, beauty is strong medicine. Like love, its emotional counterpart, beauty is a force of positive change. Our hearts and bodies are awakened in its presence. Even when nothing else can penetrate our suffering, we can be moved by beauty’s touch. It arouses us in ways that benefit both body and emotions. It turns on cascades of chemical support to the cells. In its embrace, we can walk past limits that otherwise seem too daunting.”
The month of October is the month when we honor those who have experienced breast cancer, both as patients and family. I wrote the above “Becoming New” article as I was healing from very serious breast cancer. There is no question in my mind that creating, and then engaging with, Nature-sourced art was a big part of what enabled me to recover against the odds.
Now, 11 years later, I find I have much more to say about how Nature’s beauty can be a tremendous help in healing. And how you can, as I did, engage with our Nature-sourced art to empower healing in your body, spirit and environment. I have a deep desire to pass along what David and I have discovered about healing with art over the last 18 years. I’ve also heard from some of you that you would very much like to hear about our discoveries. To begin that process, I am declaring this blog to be the first of 3 monthly communications on the theme “Beauty is Strong Medicine.”
My short commentary “Nature’s Beauty Uplifts Us” (below) introduces some fundamental observations about how sensory beauty aids the healing process. Next month, we will be sharing a slide show containing some of the original and most potent Healing Mandalas in our art libraries. We will write about some of the forms in which our Bell & Todd images and art-tools can be used for self-healing. Part III is still in design, but is also likely to involve video footage.
Nature’s Beauty Uplifts Us
Although there are purely subtle forms of beauty, I focus here on loveliness that we take in through our senses.
Here are four ways that elemental beauty supports wellness:
1. Nature’s beauty balances our emotions—A challenge of illness is this: disease patterns have emotional roots, yet knowing we have a disease often provokes the most stressful emotions. Here the sensory elements of Nature can come to the rescue. All our senses can come into play in a way that helps us release stressful emotions and activate helpful ones. For instance, the scent of lavender can bring wonderful calm, while the citrus scents can help us feel optimism and happiness. Certain warm colors can help us feel courage and strength, other soothing colors help us calm down. Our eyes are great helpers in this process—when we gaze on outside Nature and Nature-sourced pictures inside, all kinds of positive emotional changes take place.
2. Engaging with Nature, outside and inside, helps us heal—Being in Nature is an unbeatable support for recovery and wellness. Whether the environment is wild or park-like, we are fed by simply being outside. Since we spend the majority of our hours indoors, it helps to bring Nature inside. Bringing in flowers, feathers, stones—whatever seems to be a medicine-gift from Gaia, Mother Earth—can ground and energize our indoor settings. And yes, wall art that embodies Nature’s beauty is a documented aid to healing. Many studies have been done on the kind of art that adds recovery power to those in hospitals, and it is no surprise that art based on Nature photography tops the list.
3. Nature’s outer loveliness helps us connect with her living presence—When we call her Mother Earth, we are acknowledging the nurturing essence of the planet. We are literally fed from the cycle of sun, rain, growing things and mineral elements. But like any mother, she also has more to share, things to “say” and teach. It came to me early on in creating our Nature art that the Earth, Gaia, speaks to us through beauty. When David and I create an image, and then I write a meditation based on that image, that is the process I engage. I am listening to, and in a sense decoding, the information that is held in the patterns of the Nature elements. I tune into, and translate into words (as best I can), the message that is embedded in the colors, shapes and elements. We can all understand Nature though our hearts, and what we hear can be very uplifting and deeply healing.
4. Nature’s beauty connects us with the intelligence in our cells—Our bodies are elemental creations, built of the same molecules that compose everything on Earth. By opening our senses to the wonders of our planet, we come to connect more deeply to our own elemental, cellular beings. We may even gain intuitive insight into our unique healing process as we dwell in sensory contemplation. I write above about listening to universal messages that are embedded in a particular image. But sometimes a vision (in Nature or a photographic image) can allow us to understand what may be going on inside our bodies.
I had one such intuition when I was first ill. I was gazing on an image we made that contained a waterfall in a creek near us. I then internally heard the word “Water”, repeated very forcefully. This visual-verbal message prompted me to get our well water tested, and sure enough it contained microbes that were not supportive of my healing that needed to be cleared. I believe that the message came from inside (from the intelligence of my body), but seeing that beautiful waterfall triggered my awareness.
Dostoevsky is quoted as saying, “Beauty will save the world.” I know it helped save me. I hope that this and our forthcoming communications will help you embrace beauty as the strong medicine it is.
With heart-felt healing blessings to all,
Bonnie and David
P.S. if you know someone who is ill who would benefit from a life-giving image, for the rest of October we are happy to offer a discount on our images please visit our art site http://bellandtodd.artistwebsites.com use this discount code PTDCPL.