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How Do Art & Holistic Wellness Fit Together?

Updated: Apr 23, 2023

Have you ever worked a puzzle for what felt like years, seeming to make no progress- until all of a sudden a few key pieces started to bring things into focus and make sense? When I first opened Serenity Studios almost four years ago, I think both the public and myself were somewhat confused about my purpose. The more I talked about bringing art, meditation, movement, herbalism, nutrition and so forth into one place of healing and joy... the more people looked confused. At least in the beginning it seemed that way. Part of that may have been due to my own ambivalence at the time about how to explain the mission that I felt burning inside of me. Now my vision is crystal clear.

People still often ask me why we offer both art lessons and holistic wellness services as part of the experience at Serenity Studios. There is so much that I could say about this- one of the short answers being that art is good for you! In fact one of the hashtags I have been using for a few years now on our social media posts is #ArtIsSelfCare. That is true, because like other forms of self care, art is more important for our well-being than people tend to appreciate. Biologically, humans are creatives and have been creating stunning works of art since prehistoric times! Ignoring this need is a huge mistake, and assuming we are not creative because we are not making museum worthy masterpieces is faulty reasoning. I often tell new students, "If you think you are not artistic, it just means you haven't found your personal creative style yet. Stop comparing yourself to (insert favorite artist)!"

The process of creating art is about the journey more than the destination. This exploration reduces stress, allows our subconscious and conscious minds to 'play together' in a healthy way, releases emotions and physical manifestations of these feelings... to mention just a few of the benefits. And unfortunately, various types of self care also tend to be put on the back burner by most people, until they hit a point of being forced to slow down and take care of themselves. Sometimes that looks like getting sick, or just plain exhausted. It could be more acute or come to the point of something more critical, like a breakdown that literally stops us in our tracks and captivates our attention so that we take steps to heal.

Art is not 'just' art. It is powerful and essential to our well-being. Some of you may have heard me talk before about how art literally saved my life and my sanity. Having been raised in a cult, and married at the age of 20 to a man in the cult, there was no chance of autonomy or choosing what my own life would look like without leaving behind my mother and brother and friends. They were only support system I knew, though it was immensely inadequate (and really a manipulative mind control system instead). Art was my only true escape. The portal to an interior world where I was free, safe, and loved. And over the years, as my situation worsened and I became severely depressed and suicidal it became more and more crucial to my survival. Only the love of my children and the escape through art kept me alive until I found the courage ten years ago to walk away from the marriage and the cult. Art is not 'just' art.

My Holistic Wellness education began with buying a few books on herbalism and homeopathy as a teenager and planting an herb garden. My father, a prominent surgeon in our home town, found the books in my bedroom and yelled at me, "You're going to kill yourself or someone else with this hippy nonsense!" (With chamomile and lavender...?? Really?) He wanted me to go to medical school, and refused to pay for college if I didn't agree. I didn't, but I did not let that deter me from learning on my own throughout my adult life. That became really vital knowledge when my health began to spiral downwards towards the end of my marriage. I went to many conventional doctors, who either shook their heads at me and thought I was crazy or tried to prescribe drugs for serious conditions like lupus. Finally I went to a brilliant naturopath who helped me to stabilize and rebuild my physical health. This was an ongoing process, but she got me on the path to regaining wellness.

I really wanted to learn how to help people that way, and finally began college in January of 2018. I enrolled in Arizona State University's college of nursing to get my Bachelor's Degree in Integrative Health, and I will be graduating this December. Among the spectacular and validating things that I have learned in the program, are the health and wellness benefits of art and meditation! Hoorah!! My intuition knew this all along, that these things went together and were meant to be my path to helping people and making the world a better place.

If you have questions about how art and holistic wellness work together, or how you can personally benefit from the offerings at Serenity Studios- please ask!

~Donna Casey

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