When art and meditation combine for spirit-filled therapy

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on June 27, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/when-art-and-meditation-combine-for-spirit-filled-therapy

This summer I want to have meditation on the top of my activity list. Because in meditating I come closer to Christ and get to know his love and mercy more. It strengthens my trust in his faithfulness to his promises for my life.

I enjoy many hobbies. Finding an activity is never hard.   

One evening after work, I opened my closet and reached for my art journal. I wanted a fun activity to do before I knocked off all my chores. Cleaning and laundry aren’t my favourite things to do. And after a day of work in the office, it’s nice to break up the duties.

It took me a while to find my glue stick and once I did, I started to rip paper and put it on the open page. Art journaling is relaxing for me. Ripped paper, magazine clippings, glue on fingers. Photographs and dried flowers are all part of the process. Finding a quote that speaks to my experience or is inspiring is a great addition to the collage.

“I started making an art journal when I was on sick leave this past fall. Coming home from the hospital I searched for art as self-care.”

I started making an art journal when I was on sick leave this past fall. Coming home from the hospital I searched for art as self-care. At Alongside You, a mental health clinic in Delta, I found one-on-one therapeutic art classes. Each class I learned how to do something different. I started with water colour painting, painting on tiles, and then wood burning. 

It was a creative space to play and learn new techniques. I recommend it to kids and adults alike. 

In my art journal the pages have acrylic paint with abstract designs. I have paper cut-outs and hand drawn wildflowers. Pieces of newspaper and postcards also make it in. 

I draw with pastels. This time I drew balloons with a little person holding on and hanging in the air. I penned a speech bubble that said, “Here I am, what do I do next?”

Trust in the Lord. That is what I always come back to. Whenever I am uncertain of my next steps or if I am worried about anything, I remember to look to Jesus. Attending Mass on Sunday and weekdays offers special graces.

“Mass is Meditation,” said Father Francis Galvan in a homily on Corpus Christi Sunday. A sacred place with moments of silence, listening to the word of God, and receiving Jesus’ body and blood. Attending Mass is an act of “caring for the self” (Father Galvan). Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist nurtures our body and soul.

Throughout the summer, I am conscious about self-care. The time spent meditating in church benefits me in mind, body, and spirit. I enjoy finding a pew to sit in and rest. It is more enjoyable when I am with family or friends at Mass. The togetherness in church strengthens my heart.  

I like hearing the bells toll as I walk toward Holy Rosary Cathedral for Mass. Deacon Richard says hearing them ring is “like God is calling you.”

A few nights ago, I heard negative voices as I was falling asleep. I didn’t let it startle me too much. And asked the Lord to take care of me. My breathing was shallow, so I focused on my breath to return to normal. I started to pray a Hail Mary and my breathing started to regulate.

The Rosary is great meditation too. Perfect for calm breathing. I pray a Rosary with the Hallow app on my commute into work. It is a peaceful beginning to my morning. 

When I meditate either at Mass or with the Rosary, it helps me believe in miracles. I see the goodness of God when I am striving to grow in virtue through prayer and works of mercy.

“It takes just a single touch from the Lord to change a condition. To reverse a health diagnosis. To set free from an addiction. To restore a lost dream. To bring a loved one home. To re-route a life trajectory. No matter how complex the issue, or how long it’s been going on … Whether you were responsible for it, or have been the victim of it … He can do it in a moment, in a single touch. Take courage, friend – Jesus can do this” (Catholic Revival Ministries).

I am praying for the Lord to dispel my unbelief. I often forget his goodness when I see sickness, tragedy, and ongoing war around me. I want to believe that the miracles he can perform didn’t stop after his resurrection. 

What art is he creating with my life? I want to be docile so that he can have freedom to make a beautiful art piece.

My podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.

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