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The Use of Intuition and Awareness for Healing in Art Therapy

"Meditation is experiential", so said Giora Carmi during his lecture on Sunday, December 18th, 2008.

Mr. Carmi, a certified art therapist who uses art to heal others, spoke of how art is not only an expression of our intuition, but also a reflection of our development. Giora is a trained illustrator who has created illustrations for magazines and books, and has also authored and published children's books. He came to Chan Meditation Center in the 1980's to study with Shifu, sparking his desire to work with others in a helpful way. Shortly thereafter, he left the field of illustration and began his studies at NYU to become an art therapist.

Giora Carmi has lived his life through art. When he began drawing as a youngster, he did so "in a way that listened to [his] intuition". This dialogue between the intuitive self and the conscious self leads to an openness that nurtures development. Development occurs when "we trust in ideas that come from nowhere" or intuition. When we trust our intuition, development comes naturally. If we close the gates of intuition, development is retarded or stifled. Dissolve the interfering mental structures and we open the gates.

An interesting segment occurred when Giora got the gathering involved, by pairing us for an exercise that required us to collaborate in creating a picture, based on responding to what the other person drew. The objective was to create artwork that is beautiful. Each pair was given a blank piece of paper, and with no subject matter. The first person drew whatever came to mind and the second person responded by either adding to what the other person drew or going in a whole new direction. The exchange continued for about twenty minutes, or until each individual in the group felt they had completely expressed their idea. This exercise was a terrific way to teach and practice non-attachment.

During the Q&A period that followed, a practitioner commented that the exercise was a unique opportunity to practice tolerating another person's views and actions, because it forces us to accept the other person's perspective regardless of what we want or expect them to do in a certain situation. It was also a chance to be able to detach ourselves from our thoughts, in that we have this idea of what we want or how something should be, and along comes someone else and completely messes it up based on what their needs are, and we just have to accept it because we cannot control causes and conditions as they arise. Through art, we were able to learn quite a bit about what goes on inside of us, let go of our attachments and views, and respect other people.

(By Sam Uddin)

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