The arts are a critical component of healthcare just like exercise is. For as long as there have been civilizations, there have been people using art to transcend and influence others. The act of producing the art as well as admiring it can heal us, inspire us, and alter our brain chemistry. Any form of art (music, dance, etc.) applies but here we will discuss the visual arts.
“Once we understand things in a new way it creates a new world; and then a person will have a vision within that new world and the grand round of art continues.” -Alex Grey
Today, modern visionary artists are using art to inspire people to come together (community) and to teach or spread important messages. These artists are especially known for revealing arts capacity to elicit spiritual revelations. Art combined with our imagination has the ability to transport us to other realms. Art evolves consciousness. This has an impact on brain wave patterns and emotions, the nervous system, and can actually raise serotonin levels. In other words, art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world by actually affecting their physical body.
“The painter channels the creative force into the artifact, and this artifact then becomes a battery ready to zap a viewer into a new way of seeing the world.” -Alex Grey
To experience awe, wonder and beauty promote healing. Therefore, by looking at art that is awe-inspiring and beautiful you generate a positive effect on your physical body and mental state. A recent study from Berkeley found that “participants who experienced more awe-struck moments had the lowest levels of interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation.” Furthermore, experiencing awe can give you a sense of hope and provide a feeling of fulfillment which is good for your mental well-being. According to The Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) at the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), artists suffer less loneliness and depression than the general population.
Psychologist Dr Dacher Keltner, University of California in Berkeley, said that:
“Awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines which means that the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”
Brain imaging scans have illustrated that contemplating art literally alters your brain chemistry. The act of observing beauty stimulates pleasure centres in the brain. This, in turn, increases blood flow by up to 10% in the medial orbitofrontal cortex which can lead to elevated states of consciousness and better emotional health.
“The blood flow increases for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love. This tells us that art induces a feel good sensation directly to the brain.” – Professor Semir Zeki, chair in neuroaesthetics at University College London
Artist Alex Grey is one of the most famous artists of the modern visionary art movement and well-known for celebrating how art changes consciousness. Within this movement is the idea that creativity itself is a path to the divine. The path includes creating art, gathering around/celebrating art and creating communities that foster creative expression in all of its forms. Creativity is one of the greatest things about being a human being and the arts can be a great teacher for us along our evolutionary journey.
“Visionary art matters because the visionary mystical experience is the most direct contact that we have with the divine. All sacred and religious traditions are founded on this mystical state.” -Alex Grey
Grey speaks about his journey with cosmic creativity in this inspiring presentation: