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LuAnn Expressive Therapies:
A Journey to the Center of Your Soul
by LuAnn Pierce, MSW, LMSW

Let’s take a journey today, to the center of your soul. We will be visiting your physical, emotional and intellectual natures, as well. On the journey, you will need an openness and willingness to explore your inner being, and to suspend judgment of your work and journey. You will need to bring music: a new piece or one that you seldom hear. The other items you will need for the journey are your choice of art supplies, either paints, pastels, pens, pencils or brushes, and paper or canvas. When you are packed, join us for departure.

Let’s begin by getting still and being present...in the moment. Sit quietly as you become aware of your breathing and the sound of your heartbeat. Breathe deeply from your belly. When you feel centered, quietly begin to play the music; play it loudly or use headphones. Feel it resonate in your body. As you listen to the piece, close your eyes and begin to draw (or paint) what you hear; place no limits on your experience. Draw with your non-dominant hand. Allow yourself to be free...move and sway as you draw, letting your body feel the rhythms and beat. Let your hand glide over the page; use strokes that represent the feeling you have with each note. If necessary, play the piece a second time to complete your work. When you feel you have completed the drawing, stop the music and sit silently for a minute or so. Concentrate on the music and how your body is feeling. Naturally allow yourself to come back to the awareness of your present surroundings. Quietly gather your bags for the next leg of your journey.

The next phase of our journey entails writing. Silently get a pen and paper from your supplies, and settle in to reflect on what you have drawn. As you consider this drawing (or painting) begin to write words randomly that describe your work. Write these in a circular form, spiraling up or down the page, or around the margins. Don’t edit your writing or thoughts, simply write the words that come to mind. Write anything that comes to mind as you thoughtfully reflect on the drawing and your inner process. When your mind is blank, wait a couple of minutes to see if other thoughts come up; if so, write down one word that describes your thoughts. Don’t analyze the work, simply recognize your process and tune in to the feelings you experience as you continue your journey.

Using the words that you have written develop them into a poem. Work with the words to make them fluid, expressive and thoughtful. Use as many words as possible in your poetry. Focus on your experience, giving it voice. Spend as much time as you want on this leg of the journey. Suspend all judgments and analysis of the words and verses as they form thoughts. Recognize that you are writing about your feelings and process, to be judged by none.

As we approach the end of our journey, think of a trusted friend with whom you can share your work. Consider people based on their ability to silently witness your work and comment only on what they feel or see when viewing your work. Their comments should be limited to "I notice you . . ." or "I feel . . . when I look at this piece." The comments should be about what they actually see on the paper or canvas, such as "I notice you use many bright colors." Or what they feel when they view your work, such as "I feel uplifted when I look at your work." Again, they should not analyze the work or speculate on your process. Choose this person based on their ability to be present, non-judgmental, and supportive. As you sit quietly together, ask her/him to comment on what s/he feels or sees. Silently acknowledge their observations and feelings.

Allow the comments to linger in the air as you sit silently and reflect on the experience. Continue by asking your partner to listen as you share your poem about your artwork. The actual reading of the poem brings the feelings you experienced throughout your journey to life. Speaking aloud your feelings and thoughts about your process gives them voice, making them part of your reality. As you speak your truth, your witness should silently listen. When you finish reading the poem, sit quietly while you experience the silent support of your witness as s/he affirms your experience without further analysis. You may choose to share your feelings in the moment as you sit quietly, peacefully.

On the final leg of our journey you may wish to express your feelings from this experience through movement or dance. Ask your witness to share your experience by watching silently as you move about the room. Let your body flow and bend. Glide across the floor or jump and stomp as you express yourself. Spend as little or as much time as you choose moving these feelings through your body. Stretch, spin and move your body as you work out these feelings. When you have completed your movement, sit silently. Ask your witness to quietly draw (or paint) what s/he observed as you moved throughout the room. This quick sketch is a concrete way to affirm your process. Keep the drawing to remind you of your journey, as a snapshot, if you will, of your process. Frame your photograph, or display it somewhere to trigger these feelings at a later time.

As our journey draws to a close, I wish you well. I hope you will visit again, daily if you’d like. As a continuation of your experience, you may include your works on my website and join the worldwide collective experience of creativity at CommonSpace at www.commonspace.homestead.com. The site launches August 1, 2000 in conjunction with the publication of this article. You are invited to drop by at anytime, to witness the work of others, or to share your experiences. I hope to see you soon!

For all the artists out there, download this drawing and add your own twist to it. When you complete your part, email the changes to luannpierce@homestead.com and I will upload the new pieces to the website for others to work on. Poets and writers, please follow this link and add your thoughts to any or all of the poems, or start a poem, story, song, etc. of your own for others to contribute to: http://www.commonspace.homestead.com

©Copyright 2000 LuAnn Pierce

LuAnn Pierce is a licensed social worker, therapist, trainer and writer. LuAnn has worked with children, adolescents, families and individuals for 15 years. She uses expressive therapy techniques in her practice for an added dimension that appeals to people of all ages. LuAnn has written extensively about parenting and childhood development. She has worked as the Teen Editor with Self Help and Psychology Magazine (www.shpm.com) where much of her work is published online. LuAnn is opening a new practice in the southeast region of the US. She continues to study expressive arts therapy and practices traditional and non-traditional therapy in private practice. She also works with battered women and their children through her efforts at the local domestic violence agency. You may reach her through her website, CommonSpace, at www.commonspace.homestead.com  or by telephone at 803-748-7403.


Join the worldwide collective experience of creativity at: www.commonspace.homestead.com



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