The miracles of “Art Therapy”

 

Psychology is one of my most favorite areas of interest and I often research about the different advancements in this field and explore them in depth. In the last few years, I have come across the term “Art Therapy” quite a lot of times and it truly intrigued me and thus, I plunged into this topic. After studying about it from various sources, I came to the conclusion that this therapy is extremely fascinating and beautiful in its essence. I believe, as more than half of us are suffering from varying forms of depression (whether we admit it or not) and are surrounded by paranoia and chaos, this therapy might help us on a whole new level. It is a promising area and from my point of view, needs to be expansively familiarized.

Introduction to Art Therapy:

Art Therapy, as the name suggests, is a form of therapy to deal with mental stresses, overcome the communication struggles and plays a vital role in self-analysis, which in other words, is also known as introspection. It helps people contemplate over their own selves, their personalities and helps in figuring out who they really are. This therapy makes use of colors and artistic techniques to counter these issues, which most of the times, act as a barrier in the flow of our daily life.

Origination of Art Therapy:

According to “About Health” Art Therapy is being used since thousands of years in multiple ways. People have often used arts to heal their patients. But it actually formulated as a form of therapy in mid of 20th century. Doctors instilled the idea of being creative in their patient’s mind, who was suffering from some sort of mental disorder, and they observed a positive change in them. This encouragement has now led to a complete branch of arts and psychology which is now being practiced all over the world and has changed the lives of thousands of people.

Benefits of Art Therapy:

According to Art Therapy Blog, the benefits are not only bound to people who are exceptionally creative with paper, brushes and colors. Such is the beauty of this therapy that you don’t necessarily have to be a talented artist. You use your own imagination and simply let it flow. You decipher the underlying meaning behind your piece of art; you try to understand your imagination and creativity and thus heal your soul. It works wonders in treating the patients undergoing counseling, rehabilitation and psychotherapy.

For a normal human being, who has fortunately no serious mental disorders, this therapy is a great way of self-exploration. It gives you an insight into your own personality (this is an entirely different topic and it would take ages but we still won’t completely cover it). It improves the mental health and colors plays an intriguing role in emotional uplifting and understanding of personality (color psychology is yet another branch). Art Therapy can be done in the form of a group and it opens new channels of friendly communication with fellow human beings.

For people with severe mental disorders, like schizophrenia or depression due to emotional abuse, a serious disease or PTSD, also immensely benefit from this form of therapy. They actually feel a control over their temperaments; their stress and tension vanishes and after playing around with colors, they feel lightened and their anxiety decreases significantly. Art Therapy has also helped numerous serious cases of bipolar and these people experience an effective result when they perform Art Therapy activities.

As stated by American Art Therapy Association, this form of therapy plays a vital role in building up problem solving skills and increasing the confidence level. It awakens the self-esteem of a person and indulges them into self-awareness. It helps a person develop both phsycially and mentally, by using their imagination and working on their creativity. It opens new channels of exploring interpersonal skills and polishing them.

Art Therapy in the West:

art therapy 3
Yahowto

Compared to the East, the West is taking Art Therapy very seriously. There are various research institutes who are working endlessly to instigate the importance of Art Therapy among common people. To get this knowledge in the hands of a random person browsing through the internet from one corner of the world, special Art Therapy blogs are updated daily and they give creative ideas for experiencing the miracles of Art Therapy within your own home and at your own ease.

Plenty of institutes have started certified programs regarding Art Therapy and many universities are providing graduate and post-graduate programs in this field. Following are some institutes working ardently for the promotion of Art Therapy:

  • Western Sydney University: They are offering Masters in Art Therapy (post grad program) which teaches various visual art forms for therapeutic purposes.
  • University of Central Lancashire (North West England): They are offering MA in Arts along with a Diploma and a Certificate program.
  • University of Chester (North West England): Similarly, this university offers MA in Arts Therapy along with a Diploma and a Certificate program.
  • Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, California): This university offers Masters in Arts with specialization in Art Therapy.
  • West Liberty University (West Virginia): WLU offers a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Art Therapy. Their whole program is carefully structured keeping in mind the importance of Art Therapy in the future of medical sciences.

Art Therapy in Pakistan:

art therapy 2
Pakart

Unfortunately, like every other sub-field of psychology, Pakistan lags behind in Art Therapy education and recognition. Although people residing in principle cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad etc are becoming more aware about Art Therapy, there is still a major lack of coverage in this regard. Following are few pakistani universities and organizations where Art Therapy is being endorsed and encouraged:

  • In Punjab University Department of Gender Studies, an informative lecture was organized on the topic of Drama and Art Therapy. The lecture was delivered by Asim Amjad who is an accomplished Art Therapist himself.
  • Art Therapy and Mental Health organization: This is an NGO, run by the aforementioned, Asim Amjad. They are striving hard to promote Art Therapy in Pakistan. This is a fabulous venture with amazing artwork on display.
  • Universal Women Children Art Therapy Association (UWCATA) & Pakistan Bai-ul-Maal (PBM) arranged a joint Art Therapy Workshop under the guidance of Samina Jamshed, for 3000 orphan kids of Pakistan Sweet Homes. The money generated from the exhibition of the artwork by these kids, went to each of the young artists who drew it.
  • Samina Jamshed was also the conductor of an Art Therapy Workshop for 70 school teachers of Convent institutes. They were lectured on tips and techniques to help the kids overcome their shyness and to bring out their inner creativity with the help of colors and art.
  • Ufaq Ehsan is a graduate of NCA, Lahore. She has been working as an Art Therapist for more than a decade now. She has organized various workshops in Pakistan, like Falah Foundation Art Therapy workshop (2005), Aman ka Rasta Art Workshop (2010) and has worked as an Art Therapist in various schools and hospitals of Lahore.
  • For people living in Karachi, T2F needs no introduction. They have also arranged workshops and artistic activities for children to introduce them to Art Therapy miracles. Creative Reflections: An Introduction to Art Therapy was one such workshop which was facilitated by Shazia Mohamad who is an Art Therapy graduate.

Future of Art Therapy in Pakistan:

Art Therapy is meant to stabilize the depressed minds. In the West, significant amount of people have gained knowledge about this particular therapy and are greatly benefitting from it. However, in Pakistan, people consider psychology itself, a taboo area of specialization. This issue should be seriously discussed on educational platforms. Also, mental disorders are increasing day by day, especially due to the sudden unfortunate events that happen in our country. Children and adults alike, are suffering terribly and they miserably go through these ordeals without expressing their troubles. Frequent Art Therapy Workshops and seminars will prove to be a positive action to fight off this negative energy. Similarly, like the West, our universities should start graduate or post-graduate programs in Art Therapy. Or simply, for starters, they should introduce certificate programs. People with an avid interest in arts should be urged to come forward, cooperate in building up a beneficial Art Therapy future in Pakistan and fully endorse its colorful miracles.

***

Featured image:charterforcompassion.org.pk

 

 

 

War of depression

More than half of the population nowadays is suffering from the terrible mental ordeal called “depression.” According to science, depression is a product of stress and anxiety. It gives rise to various kinds of personality disorders. It changes the thinking of a human being. The power of depression makes it even more perilous than a common person can imagine. It physically changes the size of the brain. How dangerous this depression is!

Depression is like a monster that awakens within you at the oddest of times, when you least expect it to. It is a sadness that weighs you down. It is a feeling that temporarily but frequently darkens your world. You would want to enjoy a certain moment along with others, but this depression will make sure you do not enjoy it at all. This feeling makes it seem almost impossible for a person to live their life like they want to. It attacks a person in the most monstrous of ways. It makes you loathe, it makes you hate, it makes you force a smile you don’t want to show, it makes you cry at the weirdest of times, it makes you envy the successful and happy people and it makes you totally different from others.

The number of people prone to depression is constantly on the rise. There are a lot of reasons behind this gradual increase. Depression is not restricted to any age or race. It is a disease that can attack anyone; from the beggar sitting at the side of the road to the model posing for Vogue. What makes a person depressed? Sometimes it has something to do with material issues, like lack of money, or failing business. Or it may have something to do with a childhood or family trauma, loss of a loved one etc. Whatever the reason, the effects of depression can be irreparable at times.

Depression is a strong force that most often, drives you towards negativity, even suicide. But it is possible to fight it off and ultimately repel its attack. It won’t go away, but you can decrease its power and control over you. Each and every human being who suffers from depression carries this opposing power within them. But not everyone is fortunate enough to realize that they too, hold the strength to stand up to this dejected feeling. Most people feel that this depression would never let them function like a proper or normal human anymore. They feel that with the advent of this lingering melancholia in their soul, there is no glow of happiness left for them to experience. I say different.

The only enemy of depression is a genuine happy moment which is very obvious, so to speak. But how to find happiness when you can’t see happiness surrounding you anywhere? Happiness is not a huge mansion that you would suddenly catch gleaming under the morning sky. It is actually, the faint glow of light at the end of a pitch dark tunnel that you have been exploring since days. That faint glow is ephemeral though. As soon as you reach it, move out into it, it will vanish. But, it will open a new door for you, a new area to observe. It shows you a different path and it is a guiding luminescence. Such is the power of happiness! But what do half of the people suffering from depression perceive it as? They become seized by the sudden absence of the faint glow. They become so absorbed in that light that they don’t bother to see what it illuminated for them.

To fight the depression, surround yourself with what makes you smile. What is that activity that makes you forget what you are sad about? Is it arts? Is it music? Is it cooking or gardening? Is it simply reading books or magazines? Whatever it is, make the most out of this distraction. Turn that depressive feeling into a productive strength. Work on your skills whenever you feel a powerful emotion. Work on yourself, on your personality. Immerse yourself into something that would eventually fade depression into nothingness and blow it into that abyss you fear so much.

***

Image credit: cce-wakata.blogspot.com

Who am I?

Majority of you have been following me for ages but I never got around introducing myself. If there IS a person out there, who ever wonders who I am, today is your lucky day. This anonymous personality is finally, NOT revealing the name but merely letting you have a peek into the private universe.

***

I am on the road to discover myself gradually, figuring out my whole life, learning about who I was, who I am and who I want to be.

I am trying to single out and read that entangled mess of thoughts in my mind. I am trying to differentiate what my heart and my brain desire.

I am simply a perfectly imperfect human, curious about who I actually am.

I am an explorer of sorts.

I am introvert who likes being in the shadow but seeks attention as well. I want to be heard, understood and most importantly, I want to change at least one person before I die; for the greater good. I want to bring positivity somewhere.

I love smiles and I live because this world holds a thing called “laughter.” It keeps me motivated and it is the only medicine I have ever found for the sorrows that linger around and within me.

I am that blinking star you see in the pitch black sky, but as soon as you try to focus on it, it disappears.

I love discussions and talks but I dislike socializing more than I can handle.

I am 51% religious and striving to take it to 90% before I permanently close my eyes.

I am a thirsty learner. I love learning about new things, trying out new things.

I am an avid art fanatic, though I am more inclined towards contemporary modern art rather than the classical art.

I love reading of course, and I read fiction of all types.

I love listening to the music that heals the bruised parts of my soul.

Writing is the only thing that soothes me. Writing completes me. This is the only way I get my thoughts across.

A chronicle of festive fervency

I had been sitting behind the steering wheel of my car, head resting on my hand, the front two windows open, since the last 10 minutes. The air around me was thick with excitement and everything, from the traffic on the roads to the confines of my house, was in a state of tumult. Eid was just days away and it seemed, just like it had always been that everyone postponed their shopping till the very last week. Of course, this was nothing unusual in a huge metropolitan city like Karachi. Here, odd was the new even.

It was sometime after 12 p.m. People occasionally threw an antagonized glance up at the sun, and it defiantly glared back, even more ablaze. Everywhere the temperatures were running high and tolerance was consistently decreasing. On the boundaries of the roads were vendors or thailay walay, selling a variety of juices, ice-creams, popcorns, gol gappay and the mouthwatering French fries, which nobody in their right minds would ever pass by without giving a second glance to. Ah yes, if not shopping, more than half of the people were around the stalls, filling up their tummies as if it was their last day on earth.

I had no intention of wasting my day in this heat, hunting for a pair of new sandals, which I didn’t even desire to buy in the first place. It was solely my mother-in-law’s wish that I wear a new pair of sandals on this Eid, as according to her, “This would be your first Eid with us, you should look fantastic and absolute gorgeous from head to toe.” No matter how much I protested that it would be an utter waste of money and I had already bought like 5 pairs of new sandals (against my will, of course) for my wedding, which was 4 months back, the old woman just wouldn’t budge. Alright, I know she cares about me with all her heart, just like a true mother, but these were the kind of arguments I used to have with my own mom, all the time. And this was definitely my fate that I had to spend the rest of my life, hunting for shoes and clothes a week before the occasion, when the old women finally noticed that I wasn’t prepared at all.  My second mom, that’s how I’d like to refer to my mother-in-law from now on, was in no state of getting up from her beloved rocking chair and leaving her knitting needles alone for one hour. Ergo, in the end, with much despair and an irresistible longing for the coolness of my room, I ended up driving – alone – to this huge shopping mall.

I decided to get out of the car and get over with this annoying duty as fast as I could. Finding the perfect sandal size for me is yet another issue. Back in the days when I used to go shopping with my own parents, it was a Cinderella-sort-of-hassle. My feet are… okay, I’ll just say it – small. It is a tragedy that is not a single more dignified term reserved for people who have feet like me! We used to spend hours, running from shop to shop, finding sandals that would fit me perfectly. And then there is another thing: I just wouldn’t set for anything less and therefore, I wouldn’t buy a “flat” sandal. Thus the hunt began again to buy a perfect sized pair of 3 inch platform heels. No wonder, this infrequent but entirely draining search, developed a kind of contempt for footwears inside me. Just for the record, I’m not to be blamed for this hate it is the nature’s fault. And now, I was dreading this trip because of the same reason.

I walked towards the entrance of the mall, at the same time, thinking of some reason to delay or completely cancel this search when my eyes fell on a young girl, aged almost 10. She was dressed in filthy clothes, probably the dirtiest kid on the streets I had ever seen. Her hair was light brown with streaks of golden color and she had green eyes, confirming that she was a Pathan descendent. My eyes saw the yearn dripping from her eyes to her body language, to enter the mall and have a look at the unknown world inside. But of course, the security guards being the toughest and the roughest, kept her almost 20 feet away from the gleaming glass doors. As occupied I was with my current dilemma, my eyes fell on her feet. The shabbiest piece of plastic (or was that rubber?) partitioned the ground beneath her and the soles of her feet.  I was struck with a sudden idea and I approached that young girl with a new spark.

“Hey, would you like a new pair of sandals?” I asked her in Urdu, hoping she’d understand. She didn’t say anything & just looked at me with wide eyes, clearly bewildered by my abrupt boldness. “Listen, I’ll take you inside with me and I’ll buy you a new pair of sandals… as an Eid treat.” I added with a smile. She smiled back. Win.

We entered the mall, the guards looked at me suspiciously but not daring to stop me. You can say, I was resolute that I won’t spend the money on myself when I didn’t need it, period. There won’t be any further arguments about it and who ever stands up against me or opposes me would face my wrath. Okay not exactly my wrath but more like my stubbornness. Anyway, as we made our way inside, I was suddenly aware of all the glances we were attracting. “Oh come on, she is a human too,” I tried to convey this message by means of my eye to a totally burger woman. This was unbearable and disappointing. I looked at the little girl; her eyes were looking at everything but the people. She was beyond awed. This made me smile inside. Human nature is funny; it always gets dazzled and tempted to the things which are beyond its reach.  Just like I get dazzled by bookshops. My husband looked at me the same way then, like I was seeing this little girl right now.

Finally, I found the shop I was looking for. I had learned two things in my life about this shop: Its splendor was not to be taken for granted & that you should’ve extra cash with you just for one pair of footwear. I stepped inside with the little girl after me. Her mouth was open and she was gaping around in a complete trance. Better to just buy her the stuff and not let her get used to it.

After almost one hour – yes, it was completely tedious because I couldn’t decide which sandal suited her best, but in the end, we found her pair of really cute blue colored sandals with multi colored flowers lacing its straps and guess what? The heel was 2 inched! As I paid for it, the little girl had no words to say but her shining eyes expressed what was going on inside her. She was about to burst with happiness. It made my day.

On the way out, I was thinking about my second mother’s reaction if I went empty handed. She would take it as a personal insult of course, that I had not followed her “command” but who cares, right? I had no intention of telling her this little secret of mine. I was happy that the money was used for a useful cause, be it just a pair of sandals, and that it made two people smile with pleasure & satisfaction. In other words, it made the aura of festivities around us more enjoyable.

Guiding luminescence

luminescence

I fear the unknown, nor the unseen,

I only fear the unceasing evanescence,

Of the hopes & dreams, that I daily weave,

Each thread strengthening, my inner sense,

Turning the darkest demons, with every stitch,

To an imperishable ray of fluorescence,

It shall guide me, through the labyrinth,

Of life, from adolescence to senescence.

~~~

Image credits: http://www.ctvnews.ca/polopoly_fs/1.2201801.1421975854!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/image.jpg

Carpe Diem

We sat on our favorite spot at the beach; an old wooden stray log, covered with moss, damp as always, no matter how dry the weather was, big enough to seat four people at once. It was a secluded location, which mostly people never came by.

 

My eyes were on the horizon, where the blues of the sky and the raging water of the sea weaved together. Sometimes, they wandered off to the gray sea gulls, diving in the water empty beaked and coming out with a fish dangling in it. Or sometimes, my eyes found the nature in the sand, the crabs, the sea-shells, the sea-weeds, the jellyfish and what not. Sometimes I looked at the bare footed camel-men and horse-men, asking the people to ride their animals and to make their day by handing them some money to feed their families.

 

To others, it might have seemed like we were drinking in the beauty of the sea. As if we had this once in a lifetime chance, to observe the sea life, before we trudge back to the burdens of the city life. To others, we might have been just another couple, spending their day together, away from the crowded streets and talking about our future plans. Only, if they knew…

 

Her slender fingers were playing along the sand. She was unusually quiet, waiting for me to break the silence. She smelled of flowers, like always, a soft fragrance she carried, where ever she went. She wore a lilac colored dress, blending with the sea environment. She wore a hat to shield her face from sun and sand. At last, which seemed like an eternity, she sighed slowly and looked at me.

 

“Talk to me.” Her melodious voice entered my ears and made me smile, internally.

 

She was waiting for my answer. All this time, I had been processing the words to say to her. How best to say the worst, which would, finally, break her, break me and destroy everything for us. The world we had designed in our imagination, would be shattered to innumerable pieces, which could never ever be glued together, again. I couldn’t find the strength to say it. I couldn’t struggle with the words anymore, not any longer.

 

“We’re leaving.” Eyes, I kept on the horizon, distancing myself from her, from everything. I couldn’t bear to look at her when I said those two words. How would I ever forgive myself?

 

Her hand found my face. Slowly, her fingers started stroking me, tracing a path from my temple to the jaw.  I could feel every pore of my body tingling. She cradled my face and made me face her. I gained the strength, from her touch, to look at her face and finally, into her soulful, deep, umber eyes.

 

No tears, was the first thing I saw, and a heartwarming smile, playing on her lips.

 

“So, my dear,” she began, “do you want to spend these last moments in our about-to-shatter-world, weeping, moaning, cursing and despairingly watching the horizon?” Her hands clutched mine, inducing her usual aura of love and care inside me.

 

“I can’t help it.” I said shortly.

 

“You can.” She was probably unaware of the situation.

 

“I’ll be at the other side of this world, at an other end, unable to see you, unable to talk to you, unable to escape for these short-notice meet-ups, unable to breathe in your fragrance-’’ I caught myself. “It will all be very difficult and I don’t understand how you can be so calm.”

 

“I don’t want to waste my time moping. I knew this would happen the moment you told me a week back that your dad has decided and it was final. I knew you’d fight. I knew you’d argue, but I also knew there would be no change in his decision.” She replied, while caressing the palms of my hands. “I don’t want to you to be dripping with silence, at least not now. I wasn’t us to talk, I want us to make the most of our time. It will be difficult, don’t you think I know? It would be disastrous, it would be agonizing, but why to discuss our despairs now? This is the time to remember our happy moments, the memories we’ll cherish forever. The times of laughter, the times we thought our life was complete. I want you to remember those moments and keep them alive in your thoughts. Carpe diem, is what I believe in.”

 

“They’ll always be alive in my thoughts, you know that. But right now, I feel hollow. I can’t bear this emptiness. You’re here with me right now, and you won’t be, two days later. I can’t stop thinking about it and I don’t know how I’ll survive. After sometime, I’ll get busy; we’ll have to start over. It’d be a whole new life. What if I forget you, your smile, your cheerfulness, your whole existence? I don’t want that to happen.” I felt helpless; I was at a loss for words to express what I was going through.

 

“Remember one thing then,” her voice dripped with forced strength, it had always been her best quality and I adored her for her courage to face the hard times, “if you don’t want to forget me, you won’t forget me. It is as simple as that. What you want is all that matters.”

 

I knew she could tell I wasn’t satisfied. She knew I was troubled. My whole face was a mess. I knew I looked terrible. But what I felt like inside, was no match for this. Inside, was post-war scene. Heart, mind, soul, breathing, sleeping, no matter what it was before, now it was a picture of massive destruction and chaos.

 

“What do you want me to do? I can’t see you like this. I want you to be happy; I want you to be strong. I want us to laugh today and think about our last moments together in the times to come. Let these moments be our light and warmth in the dark & cold times. Let our smiles be the guidance to a new life whenever we feel lost. So then, my dear, tell me what should I do to make you cheer up?”

 

“You could at least quit being strong and stop fighting the immense pain you’re shielding behind your smile, shed a few tears and give me a reason to hug you close and murmur in your ear that it would all be okay.” I ran my fingers through her hair and felt their softness, probably for the last time ever, I thought.

 

At this, she laughed, my favorite laugh. Like many bells tinkling together, breaking a cold silence and warming every soul around it, with their perfect sounds.

 

“The thing is, my sweetheart,” she looked into my eyes, smiling broadly, “I can never cry when I’m with you.”

 

 

***

 

Like she wanted, she made the last moments perfect.

I remember her sweet breath, fanning my face,

I remember her auburn hair, shielding everything else,

I remember her coming closer to me, and closer still,

And I vividly remember, never wanting to let her go.

 

 

 

An evening walk along the beach side

sea

I have always loved a long, solitary, evening walk along the beach side.

That cool feeling of the damp sand, as it crawls around my feet, tickling my skin, when I dig it with my toes as deep as I can.

That fragrance of the sea weeds, the fish, the salt of the water, lingering in the air around me, a rather refreshing change of air from the daily toxic environment.

The sound of the waves, in rhythm to which, I let the elating memories of my life, splash across the rocks of my mind.

The feeling of freedom I sense in the birds soaring high above me, reminding me that the world isn’t as small as it seems, when we’re drowned in the daily tasks binding us to our miserable lives.

The hearty laughter I hear, when the young kids run about, carefree, with high hopes and innocence, which brings out a whole new colorful world in front of my eyes.

The beauty of the anthropods, scuttling here and there, as fast as their appendages could carry them, avoiding the towering humans, open new doors of natural beauty for me.

No words of mine can ever do justice to the beautiful scene at a beach that my eyes see and my mind perceives. You can only truly feel it through your heart.

 ~~~

Image credits: http://www.basbasbas.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/12-09-08-033.jpg