arts and healing

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“You Are Art, Everyone is Art, and Everything is Art.”  

By Lisa Rasmussen MFA

This meditation is akin to the practice of Namaste. When I was in the Himalaya taking a journey up the mountain. All that passed would whisper and say to you Namaste and bow. They were honoring the divine light within you. For this practice look at the world as a big canvas. Leave all judgment at bay and proclaim and honor Art in everything!

Begin by taking a walk, a stroll in this world. Begin a mindful internal dialogue: Whomever you pass by, say internally “You are Art, then say I am Art.”

When you pass by an animal on the earth and in the sky, say internally to them “You are Art, then say I am Art.”

When you look at the flowers, the trees, and the grass say internally to them “You are Art, I am Art.”

When you meet a friend and a family member say to them “You are Art, I am Art.”

When look at Humanity say to the sea of 7.1 billion people from all corners of the globe internally “You are Art, I am Art.”

When look at the sky, the stars, the ocean, the Earth say to them “You are Art, I am Art.”

When feel the wind, sense something larger than yourself say to it “You are Art, I am Art.”

Then internally and externally say. “Everything is Art! To Be in the present moment is Art. To be in Eternity is Art. I am Art You are Art!”

Ruminate: True Art is when the Artist becomes the Art itself. You are the Creator of your own Creation. Art is Life, Life is Art. Continue practicing this throughout the day.



Do you feel a sense of radiance?  


Do you feel a sense of awe?


Inspired by a 30 Day Art 4 All People YogART Challenge, while Co-writing YogART 4 Compassion with Ceylan Hulya MA, Co-Founder of Art 4 All People with me

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This post features a film created by Cynthia Hanson in the Holistic Studies graduate program at JFKU, in Arts and Consciousness. She interviews several Transformative Artist posing the inquiry, what is transformative Art?

What does Transformative Art mean to you?

child pose

Art that connects you to a deeper self.
Art that evokes the memory of something that is truly real.
Art that is deep wound healing.
Art as sacred space, offered as a gift.
Art that is conscious.
Art that sparks.

At its heart, Transformative Art is about movement, truth, and change. When our habits and choices are governed by the unprocessed wounds we carry within, change is blocked. Movement is blocked. Truth is hidden. Transformative Art engenders movement from inner to outer, from fertile darkness to the receiving canvas. The truth is what we learn about ourselves from consciously dialoguing with our creation: darkness has come forth into beauty and rests safely in objective form. Now we can communicate differently with a deep part of our being that was previously hidden. Now we can validate feelings that arise and may be attached to memories of specific experiences in the past. As the process is repeated, the backlog of dark matter begins to be addressed, goes up and out into creation so that new space can open up inside. This is where change is born in infinite variety and force. Cynthia Hanson M.A.

The video’s below reveal the inquiry

We would love to know. What do you think Transformative Art is?

Artists featured in the film are Catherine Adams, Cynthia Hanson, Jessica Serran, John Sanders, Lisa Rasmussen, Mike Grady, and Tomoko Murakami


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When Art Likes You Back

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I once asked an art collector: “What do you enjoy most about living with art?

Without hesitation, he offered this description: “When the house is quiet, and everyone else is sleeping I like to go out into the dining room, turn on the lights and talk to the paintings. The ones that I like the most always have something to say to me. It’s as if they like me back.”

At the time, I found the collector’s reply eccentric — even Zen — but from where I stand now it makes more and more sense. Liking and appreciating works of art involves a give and take, and the idea of a idea of a private conversation in which a work of art responds by deepening its meanings and offering more profound pleasures is apt and beautiful. It is precisely this kind of conversation that wakes up our taste for art, which involves a kind of deep affinity or even passion.

In my dual career as an art educator and art writer, I have come to realize that I am surrounded by people and institutions that want to tell me what I should like in art and what I shouldn’t like. Everything about taste in art seems to have been externalized, institutionalized and circumscribed. No wonder so many artists try so hard to dispel all the cultural authority and “disrupt” since challenging external standards and measures of taste is one path to authenticity.

Museums, galleries, books, magazines and blogs all represent some level of authority and/or opinionation that seems to conspire to warp my authentic taste, whatever it actually is. Even when you have spent years looking at art the matrix of official taste looms and casts shadows on your choices.

My students feel the same pressure to like the “right” things and they generally look to me as some kind of authority figure that can tell them what they should like. Since I don’t want them to become “excellent sheep” — I’m an educator, not an indoctrinator — I constantly remind them that I can’t do that. Taste in art is personal, and although it takes work to develop and bloom, it is innate: not learned. Deciding what you like in art is as personal as choosing friends or lovers, and letting others tell you what you should like in art strikes me as rather like having someone else to choose a spouse for you.

Art is a magnet that draws strong opinions from those who look at it, rank it, collect it, write about it, or sell it, especially art world types who have some kind of vested interest. What you like or dislike in art is often seen as political by others, even if you see your taste as being strictly personal. Given that context, the idea of being alone with works of art and having a dialogue with them sounds really inviting. The collector’s metaphor — that the paintings could talk back to him in privacy — screens taste from cultural politics.

In fact, the word connoisseur derives from the French verb connaître which means “to know intimately” (even sexually). Certainly, artists of past generations understood this, and they relied on the beauty of things — bodies, landscapes and objects — to delight viewers into staring unselfconsciously and lovingly. Fast-foward to now and you will find that postmodern art often deals with abstract ideas, concepts and socio-political concerns. As valid, and as intellectually stimulating as these things may be, the result is often over-thought art that intimidates or lectures.

Art that is overly insistent on its own intellectual and political virtues can’t generate the kind of back-and-forth conversation that my collector friend relished. The images and ideas broadcast by a truly great work of art have to the senses first: they have to seduce you and then the “conversation” really takes off from there. Art that appeals to the senses sends a message: “I like you and I want you to like me back.” Art that makes an effort to “like” its viewers invites responsiveness and offers deep intuitive connections and sensual resonances.

In his book about spiritual enlightenment, The Power of Now, writer Eckhart Tolle has devastating things to say about what he perceives as our overly conscious, “mind-dominated” culture.

Because we live in such a mind-dominated culture, most modern art, architecture, music and literature are devoid of beauty, of inner essence, with very few exceptions. The reason is that the people who create these things cannot — even for a moment — free themselves from their mind. So they are never in touch with that place within where true creativity and beauty arise.
That is a very harsh statement, but I think Tolle is on to something. Contemporary art has been overly thought about and overly theorized, to the point that too much art has forgotten to “like” its viewers. The “liking” has increasingly been seen as the sole responsibility of viewers as the art itself has become more challenging or banal.

I think that Andy Warhol was saying something along these lines when he stated that “Pop art is about liking things.” It was his way of saying that in a modern, consumer culture we all needed to ask less of the art object. In other words, it was time to accept the fact that art objects, like products, had been stripped of their subtlety and mystery for the sake of consumerist immediacy.

I see it differently. In a fast-moving, fast-looking media/consumerist society art can be an antidote that can wakes us up to slowness–to passion– and nudges our innate taste into wakefulness. Great art transcends the particularities of time, place and culture: it can break through limits and cultural assumptions if you let it.

The next time you are around a work of art, shut out everyone and everything else and open yourself up to it. Talk to the work of art and see if it talks back. If it likes you and you like it, nothing else matters. When a work of art likes you — by offering you images that entice and delight you — don’t worry about whether or not others will approve of your taste. Turn on the lights of your mind, let everyone else sleep, and see if the work of art likes you. If it does, there is every chance that you are going to like it back.

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The connection between the arts and health is nothing new. The ancient Greeks saw a clear link between art and healing. They believed that being in contact with painting, sculptures, and mosaics could heal the mind, body, and soul.

Professor Samir Zeki is a prominent professor at the Institute of Neuroesthetics at University College London. He recently demonstrated in this video that looking at art stimulates the brain in a way that makes people feel good.

Here is the latest article from the WallStreet Journal. More Hospitals Use the Healing Powers of Public Art: Hospitals Are Giving Artwork a Higher Priority. Read the whole story HERE. 

If we look further into history, the healing power of art and music has been known throughout history. In fact the first healing was music and dance in hunter gatherer cultures freeing what the Kalahari Bushman called healing “boiling energy” Each night people of the tribe would dance wildly and go into a trance or meditative state. The people believed that the dance itself freed the persons own healing energy. Eventually, music and dance were combined with costumes and storytelling and with objects and paintings in the creation of a ritual that we would now call theater or performance art. But in ancient times this ritual was sacred and it was part of the cultures medicine.

In a very real way the first artist and the first healer were one figure in society, one person, the shaman. This figure became a specialist in going inward to the place of creativity and healing. They became the person who embodied the original rituals that previously were spontaneous and made them intentional. All tribal peoples believed that there was a healing spirit that could be freed from within a person by going into the space of music or art and fully participating in the experience. If you would like to increase your ability to be an artist healer, one way is to increase your understanding of being a contemporary shaman. The path of the feather is our way of doing that. It is a way of seeing the earth as sacred and listening to the voices of ancient spirits and spirit animals.

Christian and Buddhist art also works on the principle that meditating on images or listening to certain sounds puts a person in a sacred state and heals. In Navaho sandpainting the patient was put on the ground and the sandpainting was made by a medicine man around them. The sandpaintings imagery told a traditional Navaho healing story and the healer told the story of the painting to the tribe as it was made. It is believed that the story, and the shapes and colors directly effect the spirits and heal the patient. Researchers find that Navahos using sandpainting are healed from some conditions that Western medicine cannot cure.

Furthermore in traditional cultures it was believed that art healed the world, not just the individual. It was believed that art and music changed the hunt, fertility, the crops, the weather, the life of the tribe, and the earth. Today many healing artists also believe that their art helps heal the earth. They are making environmental or eco-art to heal neighborhoods, rivers or to create world peace. From


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Check out the interview I did for the Arts and Healing Network

Below is the article, and you can listen to her interview online here.



Art Break Day Co-Founder and Healing Artist: Lisa Rasmussen
May 2013

Lisa Rasmussen is a transformative artist, educator, curator and art advocate who truly believes and embodies the notion that art can change and heal the world.

Lisa is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Art is Moving and the 3rd Annual Art Break Day. Art Break Day is a communty art-reach event that offers thousands of people the means and space to connect with their community via the art-making process. She is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Art 4 All People and AY Atelier Art, an international sanctuary for arts and consciousness online and in Malibu, CA.
Additionally, Lisa pioneered an award-winning expressive arts program for emotionally traumatized and abused youth, and developed a professional art gallery for the residents of Lincoln Child Center, a mental health facility in Oakland, CA.  She is also a professional artist, and her paintings are her spiritual practice. To learn more about Lisa and her work, please visit,, and

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