What is Expressive Arts?
What is NATURE-BASED expressive arts?
"A nature-based approach to expressive arts includes stories from ecotherapy and also from the
historical and cultural contexts of the arts, from contemporary ecological sciences, from ecological
philosophies and from the wisdom of indigenous cultures."
- Sally Atkins & Melia Snyder -
Authors of Nature-Based Expressive Arts Therapy: Integrating the Expressive Arts and Ecotherapy"
Nature-based expressive arts is the combination of Expressive Arts Therapy, Ecotherapy and mindfulness based practices. It is a holistic and alternative approach that nourishes and heals while also rejuvenating and awakening our instincts and intuition. It invites relationship and engagement between humans and the earth by reminding us that we are nature and we are inherently creative and powerful just like nature. A nature-based expressive arts experience combines passion, expression, activism, vulnerability, creativity, ritual, embodiment, process and awakening. It allows space to process, unravel and heal while also strengthening and empowering. There is no judgement or criticism in expressive arts. It's about feeling, not about perfection. It's about the process, not the product. It's a space to return to yourself, your primal instincts, your innate humanness. It's home, and it's available to anyone willing to accept the invitation.
I believe that connecting with the natural world is vital for the arts to truly take shape and heal us. Life is always changing. Our emotions, thoughts, homes, relationships, jobs etc are always changing. We are a product of the bigger picture, and we have to accept and allow change to flow in order to find peace and clarity amidst the chaos. When a leaf from a tree turns brown and falls to the ground we don't mourn for the loss because we know a new leaf will emerge come Spring. Our lives are ever changing, and that's the only constant that life really offers.
My journey as a nature-based expressive arts student and practitioner has allowed me to accept change and appreciate the journey that unfolds in often difficult and uncomfortable times. We aren't meant to be stagnate creatures- we are conditioned to wander and explore and live amongst the chaos that life often presents us with. I am deeply inspired by the natural art of Andy Goldsworthy in the sense that it reminds me that impermanence can be a blessing. We, as humans, must allow ourselves to be comfortable with letting go and letting the movement of our own journey wither and flourish all in the same breath.
Nature-based expressive arts gives me a safe space to deeply feel and welcome the unexpected. It is no coincidence that the human brain resembles that of the galaxies beyond us. We are told we are made of stardust, and science now confirms this is more than just a pretty metaphor. This approach allows us to tap into that cosmic, grounding, enriching magic that we see in both the stars and the flowers, mountains and waves, fire and the wind. Nature-based expressive arts is more than just creating a painting or poem- it's our minds,bodies and spirits connecting with the natural elements among us and welcoming in both the light and the dark and learning to appreciate all that is offered to us.
"Change is inevitable, but transformation is by conscious choice."
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