Have you ever had a brilliant idea in the shower?

Its such a good place for inspiration because we give the logic part of the brain the space it needs to process our thoughts.

Why we need brain space to heal

I was interviewed this week on BBC Radio Sheffield, and I had to describe myself in three words. I went for Introverted Information Addict.

Why? Because I love reading books, watching TED talks and talking to people about the geeky things they’re passionate about. And yes… Ok, I also love Instagram. And Twitter. And the newest series of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

I have a problem though, as soon as I finish one thing, I move straight into another. I don’t plan reflection time into my day because I feel too busy, so a lot of the great ideas that come from reading- get lost in the chaos of thoughts swirling around my mind. Do you know that feeling?

Knowing that stress is a massive part of psoriasis, I am trying to reduce stress in my life. I know I need to take more time out…but doing nothing is not an option.

So how do we reduce our cortisol levels while still learning, growing and having fun?

I’m glad you asked because my conversation with Holistic Healer and Artist Elizabeth Tuckwell gave me the answers I needed and they can help you too.

How can Art meditation help you?

“The tools of art meditation help to remove the mask that stress, depression, and anxiety give us”

Elizabeth Tuckwell

When we’re born we are are not impacted by our environment, instead, we are driven by our internal needs. We know ourselves. 

As we grow we learn from our environment. This may be from our parents, friends, wider family and what we see on T.V. 

We become influenced by the needs and opinions of others. 

Examples from my own life include

  • not doing what I want because I had to accommodate the needs of my siblings
  • being reprimanded by teachers for being bossy when asserting my needs
  • feeling like I need to be more social otherwise, I would have no friends
  • Being shaped by societal expectation ‘, you won’t get a boyfriend if you don’t brush your teeth’ and ‘you’re a pretty girl you should get a rich husband.’ Thanks, nan. 
  • arriving at work first and leaving last to prove I was a hard worker

We move away from our internal guidance, our internal navigation system and start to question. Am I valid? 

I feel like I have some form of a mild identity crisis for the last 10 years and only now am I making peace with who I am. Which is, as it turns out- me when I was six.

I am the girl who was sat in her room reading books while all the other kids played outside in the sunshine.

The girl who hid her Christmas presents so she could open them, and savour the moment by herself.

The girl who would prefer a quiet hot chocolate with her bestie than a party with loads of friends.

When I wanted to leave a party because all I wanted to do was read a book. I felt abnormal, like a failure. My friends made me feel abnormal. My socialite boyfriend made me feel strange. What’s wrong with me?

Self-doubt leads to anxiety, which leads to worry and a lack of self-trust. All of these feelings pile on top of each other.

So we turn to external remedies.

  • Alcohol to make me more sociable.
  • Sugar to make me more energetic and enthusiastic

When we push against ourselves, we are forced to mute our internal voice.

We need the validation of who we are, and that validation is external — posting pictures on social media and receiving likes, getting dressed or working hard for compliments and praise. It’s exhausting, and it takes us further from who we are on the inside.

What masks do you wear?

How art retunes you to your inner guidance system

“we can start to connect with our internal voice, our internal vocabulary by doing something that steps us outside of the everyday conversation. That moves us into a different part of our brain and a different part of ourselves using art.”

Elizabeth Tuckwell

Creating something on the outside comes from the inside. Moving activity over to the more artistic, creative sections of the brain gives the space needed to process information while you move into the creative zone.  It hepps you tune into your internal voice.

I started writing poetry last month, and I found myself crying as I wrote. Once I focussed on the creativity of using words, I opened up to the true nature of the feelings I had locked away. I embraced them and let them flow. The logical part of my brain shut away- the creative part taking over. It was only once the writing was done, did I let me logical brain take over and wipe away my tears, and shift embarrassed in my chair as the people sat opposite me in the cafe looked nervously in my direction.

Elizabeth shared her experiences in our interview, and this is her experience of art can help heal.

“The art making process is an act of finding a path back to trusting yourself and to creating that internal validity. 

When you build up that confidence inside of yourself, you start to build more of a connection with your internal guidance, and you’re able to discern your voice. 

The internal voice from all of the chaos, and all of the masks that you’re wearing. 

Because you’re starting to establish a sense of confidence with what you’re creating, and you’re also bypassing all the noise that’s in your head when you’re creating the artwork.”

Elizabeth Tuckwell

What if you’re not artistic?

When given a paintbrush or a set of coloured pens I draw a house and sunshine. Fear drives me back into my comfort zone. 

It turns out- it’s better to start being creative without an objective. If we aim to create something specific, then we can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increase anxiety and prevent us from tapping into our authentic voice.

Elizabeth gave me a prescription for this that could help you too.

Take a piece of paper and a pen. Scribble a load of lines on it. Then take a watercolor palette and a brush, and paint all of the shapes on the paper different colors. It’s abstract, so your mind is calm again, with space for thoughts to wander- and then there’s the pure primal joy of playing with colour. 

Different techniques to try 

Painting

(but make it nonlogical abstract -i.e., don’t try to paint a picture of an apple if it will stress you out)

Take photos on your phone.

Spent time, even if it’s just ten minutes finding something beautiful in your garden, or on the road, you live, to photograph.

Scrapbooking and making collages.

The cathartic nature of cutting and sticking is not to be underestimated. It’s more relaxing that Pinterest,

Ceramics.

There is so much tactile sensation in making something with your hands. It doesn’t need to be the spinning circle from the film Ghost… kids clay sets will give you the same buzz. You can also get silver clay for jewelery making (i have done this and its super fun).

Doodling.

Even a sporadic doodle can get you out of your head. I naturally go to triangles. 

oetry.

This has helped me. There’s a concise type of poetry called a Haiku that could be worth trying.

What about ‘proper meditation’?

So all this stuff is excellent- but what about the proper thing? The meditations we hear about so much?

I la la la LOVE Elizabeth’s response to this question.

“I think art is meditation.”

So good. I find it so much easier to get lost scrapbooking with my daughter than I do when listening to rainfall and someone talking about aging and gratitude and breathing (though I do like both).

I love this explanation for her too:

Art focusses in the resent moment - that is the essence of meditation. 
               Stress lives in the future.

Erm Elizabeth… YES! I love the idea that living in the moment reduces our stress levels (which is excellent for psoriasis) by preventing our mind from running through all of those ‘what if’ situations…most of which never happen.

Then:

“In the present moment, there is so much peace.”

It’s so easy to get caught up worrying about things that are going to happen to you, and really, most of those are trivial. By silencing the constant internal chatter, we can tap into a bigger version of ourselves.

“Meditation brings you into your aliveness by bringing you into the present moment of now.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m making a cuppa then I’m going outside to take a photograph of something beautiful. 

About Elizabeth Tuckwell

Elizabeth Tuckwell

Elizabeth Tuckwell, is an abstract expressionist painter, a meditation teacher and a creative coach. She developed her own style of painting while traveling and has developed her own style of meditation.

She states, “I truly began my painting career while living in Amsterdam with little more than cheap oil paints from a local Dutch market, a potato knife and paper. Later, I discovered the use of brushes, I discovered the canvas and the story begins to write itself from there.

My paintings are stories that burst forth from within me, often times telling me a story about myself. If we see art as an investigation into being, then my paintings are my investigation into my being; I paint what I feel, or rather what I am feeling comes through on each canvas.” 

Elizabeth has developed a process of teaching others how to develop their own artistic practice and often combines it with energy work to break down the inner barriers of her clients. “I believe everyone has creative talent, and when we can move past the monkey mind we can tap into an incredible space inside of ourselves where the potential is limitless. I love helping people discover that part of themselves.”

You can find more about her and her free art with intention course at artwithintention.com/creativejumpstart

Her artwork can be found at elizabethtuckwell.com 


Social Media Links: @elizabethtuckwell (I love her on Instagram)

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