‘Disease can awaken in us the will to transform our lives'.
Art as therapy
Between art and medicine, there are strong links and interactions. Anthroposophical art therapy shows new opportunities to encourage further research. Depending on the disease and its specific symptoms, a particular art form goes with certain therapeutic indications.
Disease as life prompt
The most common art is the art of organizing an active life, the art of biography. We are not always able to conduct our lives out of our own consciousness. We often need a ‘push’ from outside, such as an illness.
Illness or disease – more precisely the recovery of health – can awaken in us the desire to take hold of our lives in a new way. Art, actively received or practiced, nourishes this process and gives us wings. Precisely in times of crisis, a new awareness of and a new access to art can awaken in us.
This is why anthroposophical hospitals place a high value on the artistic quality of buildings and spaces. The practice of art helps doctors or caregivers understand better and in more depth the difficult and complex situations their patients find themselves in.
Formative art therapy
Very specific links exist between certain artistic media and certain diseases or symptoms. Each art form has its special elements. For example, sculpture works with forms and proportions.
Anthroposophical art therapy goes beyond the artistic experience. The art therapist examines the effect of different artistic elements on the patient and on his organic functions. He uses specifically chosen exercises to work on the patient’s sick organism.
Art works actively in the healing process
Anthroposophical art therapy involves curative forces that shape and transform the human being: movement, speech, music, sculpture and painting. They provide new possibilities for patients to actively work on restoring their own health.
The use of art therapy is a vast field. The equally vast experience of art therapists and doctors ought to be made available to the scientific community and to the general public through publications. But for such research donations are needed.
Healing through the power of speech
The art of speech therapy gives shape to sounds, syllables, words and phrases. These elements of the language, with which we are all familiar, have a special relationship with our bodies, our vital energy and of course with our soul, which comes into contact with others through speech. The more a poem makes us of syllables and sounds, the greater its ability to influence and re-enliven the body through breathing. The art of speech therapy lies in matching the richness of these elements of language with indications corresponding to their use as a medium for self-development.
Deep relaxation through hexameters
For the art of speech therapy, important impulses came from a community of researchers based at the University of Bern. In international publications, it has been shown that the hexameter (a classic form of poetry) enables human beings to float in a realm between waking and dreaming. The pulse rate adjusts fully to respiration, resulting in deep relaxation and sustained calm.
A project in partnership with the Ita Wegman Clinic at Arlesheim showed that the art of speech therapy may favourably influence blood pressure. The results are encouraging and continue to be explored in clinical situations.
Dr. med. Andreas Binder, Dietrich von Bonin, Kirstin Kaiser
Find yourself in music
Music is a basic need of human beings. For centuries, in all cultures music has been humanity’s therapeutic companion. Music resounds in the most diverse situations in life.
Music builds bridges between the inside and outside, between this world and the next, between ‘I’ and ‘you’. We cannot grasp music physically, but it is nonetheless real and this dual nature makes music a mediator between the earthly and the spiritual. Music has an objective reality that everyone can discover and experience for himself.
Human beings already hear before birth
By the third month of pregnancy, the ear is fully formed and the sense of hearing is active. The human being hears before birth. At the time of death, hearing is the last sense to be lost. It is a bridge between our pre-natal and post-mortem existence. This ‘bridge’ is well known in everyday life.
Our power of hearing is greater than our power of sight. We recognize the footsteps of someone we know who passes by. Hearing not only gives us the content, but also the ‘atmosphere’ of what is said. ‘Misunderstandings’ often arise not only because of the content of what is said but because of the tone and the way it is said or heard, be it on the side of the speaker or the hearer.
Music Therapy: I am the music
Music therapists work with various musical phenomena, with the sound qualities of different instruments. Even the ‘typical’ way in which an instrument is played can have a therapeutic effect. One patient who had never made music and was for a long time actively sceptical about music therapy, when thinking ‘out loud’ during his third session about what ‘making music’ really meant, came to this conclusion: ‘The way the sounds emerge depends on me, I am the music...’
Become a part of a larger whole
Through music, the human being can experience being part of a larger whole, without losing thereby his own value. His self-worth is enhanced. Inwardly experiencing one’s own value is also of great importance at the time of dying. A patient once described this with the following words: ‘When I hear music, I know I exist, and that I am more than the earthly part of myself. Because of this, I am also not alone.’
Regula Utzinger, music therapist.
‘The archetype of music is in the spiritual world. When the human being hears music, he feels well, because these sounds remind him of his spiritual home.’ - Rudolf Steiner.