“Have you ever heard of poetry therapy?” read my text to a good friend about an ad I had just seen. My latest copy of Spirituality & Health magazine advertised a poetry therapy retreat. As I got in my car to run errands, I marveled at the many modes of therapy available to us today. With wilderness therapy, art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, and now poetry therapy, there is a method of healing and rejuvenation for just about everyone!
One kind of therapy that really helps me (and it’s practically free) is visual therapy, which I don’t even know if it’s a real thing. Google only gave me medical “vision therapy” and a personal shopping and wardrobe organizing blog as my search results! To me visual therapy is the therapeutic benefit or result of seeing something of great beauty and wonder. I often feel joyous, inspired, motivated, moved, or at peace when I see something beautiful, like a colorful sunset, an exquisite piece of art, or just looking out over an expansive ocean. When I really stop and think about it, there are countless moments of this kind of splendor all throughout a single day, even at work (which naturally can feel so mundane at times).
With the small amount of research I’ve done on art therapy, I think this visual therapy differs in that one is experiencing positive feelings as a result of seeing a piece of art or a breathtaking landscape, rather than creating a piece of art with the guidance of a professional. Art therapy can bring a greater understanding of one’s own trauma, challenges, struggles, and life experiences through the art making process. And like art therapy, visual therapy is a balm for the soul.
In no certain order, here are my top modes of visual therapy:
1. The tapestry collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston
2. The Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon
3. My mom’s garden in summer
4. Squam lake, especially Church Island
5. The colorful process of making vegetable soup
6. Photos of our beautiful planet and its many inhabitants, both human and animal
7. Ancient architecture… i.e. the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, the gothic and renaissance cathedrals of Europe, Machu Picchu, Buddhist monasteries and temples, etc.
8. Watching a ballet or theater performance
9. Waking up to the enchantment of freshly fallen snow, especially when you don’t need to go anywhere.
10. A library with rows and rows and rows of books
11. The stars
12. The ocean
13. A smiling baby
14. Horses grazing in their pastures
15. The first page – and the last page – of a very good book
I think that one thing that completely gets in my way of experiencing visual therapy is simply not being in the present moment. Worry and stress, over past or future, are most certainly killjoys to the rapture right in front of us. Any kind of overthinking or over-analyzing is also sure to distract us from noticing these simple yet glorious moments.
I hope that this is a year of inspiration as we all experience the many awe-inspiring moments of this beautiful world we live in. What would you add to this list? And if you’ve heard of a term that describes this “visual therapy”, or any books on this sort of topic, please leave me a comment below. I would love to learn more!
In the creative spirit,