The Expressive Arts Institute at Salve Regina University: My Story
I moved to NY at the beginning of 2018 because I needed to start over. I had become a workaholic in Colorado Springs. I was running my own business, heavily involved in the community I lived in, and absolutely numb. There was this nagging pain in my gut I felt all the time, like something was so off inside me — but I couldn’t figure out why. I couldn’t really feel anything much emotionally. In some ways, I was living my dream of being a writer, photographer, editor, etc. But something just wasn’t right.
I had been through quite a few hard things in Colorado, and maybe it was all just too much. I used to be a creative, free-spirited, joyful person. Now, I felt so far from who I used to be that I was having increasingly horrible episodes of sleeplessness and anxiety. In 2017, I felt like I could hardly even smile. I wasn’t myself.
When I moved to New York, it was my way of breaking through the numbness and facing myself. Sometimes moving will do that; it shakes you so completely out of your comfort zone that you have to face yourself. I knew I needed to take drastic measures, because I wanted to figure out what was indeed wrong.
As I continued to explore the area, I heard about the Expressive Arts Institute held at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. The Expressive Arts Institute is a 3-month course held at the university each summer where one can go and learn how art, movement, and sound can be used in healing, therapeutic ways to let the past go, get in touch with one’ sinner child, and explore creativity in a fun, nonthreatening environment.
For some reason, I felt that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I knew I needed it. Teryn needed it: the person I used to be, the person I wanted to be, and the person who was desperate for reconnection with all parts of herself past, present, and future.
So I went. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little nervous, but I also was willing to try anything and be open to whatever experiences I needed to shake the deadening lethargy of my soul. The professors were amazing, and they started leading us through simple art and movement techniques that blew my mind. Even that first weekend, I suddenly felt things stirring: Joy. Pain. Happiness. Beauty.
I felt alive again. Suddenly, I was in relationship with myself once more. I could feel myself—and on deeper levels than ever before. This summer as I did the homework and embodied the experience of the Expressive Arts Institute, I realized that the answers to all my wrestlings and questions were right underneath my nose. I had more wisdom, and I was attuned to this wisdom.
This newfound connection to the deeper parts of myself has helped me start making some needed life changes, make profound breakthroughs, and find more joy and freedom even in the midst of struggle. I have new dreams, and I feel better inside and out than I have in years. That persisting pain in my gut? It’s GONE. And there were some real reasons it was there—reasons I was able to realize through expressive art.
It’s amazing what starting to really listening to ourselves can do for self care.
How Expressive Arts Can Help You
Even if God is a topic you’re not into—the ways that expressive art can help tap into the deepest parts of ourselves are well documented in medical studies and scientific observations. While I won’t delve into this area myself in this particular blog post, it’s suffice to say that our bodies are infinitely complex, and science/medicine is just beginning to scratch the surface of how everything is linked together.
But the mind is not separated from the body, and the body is not separated from the mind. Our emotions, our thoughts, our desires, our pains are buried deep within the fabric of our beings, and sometimes the only way to access our truest, most authentic selves is PRE-VERBAL.
In other words, there are parts of our brains that do not process information through talking. Parts of our brains MUST process, release, and communicate through non-verbal means using the entire being—in primarily imagistic (visual arts) and physical (movement) ways.
So What is Expressive Art?
Expressive art, then, is art that is helping you express the deepest, truest parts of you. It’s letting you reconnect with a childlike state of curiosity, creativity, and honesty—the part of us that we as adults often like to ignore or suppress.
Expressive art is not art therapy, per se—no one is diagnosing you or telling you that you have issues or how to live your life. Expressive art is a language that you learn (or re-learn, because kids naturally have this language) that can help you communicate and connect with yourself so that you can make your own needed connections and learn deeper self empowerment. This plays hugely into self care and physical and emotional wellbeing.
Just imagine if you could truly connect with yourself, listen to yourself, love yourself, and start living a life that was centered, focused, free, joyful, and honest in all its childlike beauty? There is hope, there is a way forward to find a balance between the demands and pains of adulthood and the joys and dreams of childhood.
Does this spark your interest? I hope it does! I am a certified Expressive Arts Facilitator from the Salve Regina University! And I can’t wait to begin walking down this road with you towards more inner connection, joy, and peace.