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Art Therapy For Chronic Pain & Stress Management

Art therapy is an effective tool in pain management, stress reduction, and helping to reduce anxiety. Read my story on chronic pain and art.

Art Therapy For Chronic Pain & Stress Management

Sometimes when I blog, something just pops in my mind and I feel so compelled to write. I had a huge realization this evening. I sat and pondered why I have a website, Facebook page, and blog. What is my purpose with all of this? I have been so lost in my blogging goals, finding my blogging niche, and who I wish to reach. Finally, it came to me.

Truthfully, since my health changed, the ever resounding question is, now what? What is my purpose since everything is different? Where do I fit in anymore? My identity is lost, I am not the same person I was, and this wasn’t by my choice. Somewhere my health and art fit together, but I couldn’t see the path.

There isn’t a facet of my life that has stayed the same. My blog post, “Finding my Personal Truth,” talks in detail about my health changes and what brought me to this place. This post is really a continuation on that topic and how I found my ability to cope with pain through my art.

I went through emotional stages of being diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia and Fibromyalgia. I felt anger for a life changed, I felt sadness for abilities lost, I felt depressed because I couldn’t do a dang thing to stop any of this. Anxiousness lived with me every day, I felt so much had been torn away, against my control. What is next, what is each day going to bring? Ya know what? It doesn’t matter.

In my soul, I am the same person. God brought me to this path to have me make a difference. I know upon reflection, my difference is to help other people that struggle. They may struggle because of depression, physical pain, loss, anxiety, stress, it really doesn’t matter. It is my job to light the path and hand over the torch of hope. Whether sick or not, do we ever know what the next day will bring? That is a freeing thought!

During my health discovery process, I arrived at a pain clinic program held at the Essentia Health hospital, here in Duluth, Minnesota. I would attend a variety of classes to cope and learn about chronic pain.

All I knew was I was in pain and felt my life was wrecked. I was darn scared. Instead, I found hope. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of frustration, tired days of dragging my arse out of bed, and those damned physical therapy sessions. I kind of wanted to kick the wall, I’m not going to lie.

Amidst all of this, I met several wonderful people in the clinic. I will never forget the day that truly brought my journey of art and healing to a start. I guess change is never easy!

Energy healing was a part of my program and I met a woman I will never forget. Jan Murphy was a chaplain for Essentia Health and was the energy healer I worked with. I was pretty skeptical about this whole process but I kept an open mind.

My first session was met with curiosity, what on earth did I get myself into? I would be greeted by the sweetest person I had ever met. Her room was different from the normal stuffy offices one would be used to in a hospital. The ambiance was very relaxing and she had a calming demeanor about her. She felt like one of my tribe, just one of those people you instantly like.

Energy healing consisted of a session of lying on a massage table in a very relaxing environment. She applied a soft essential oil to a cloth and covered my eyes with it. Soft, relaxation music played in the background. I could tell I already loved it, this was like escaping to a spa away from hectic daily life!

Jan performed a variety of techniques of energy healing that worked with opening the chakras. I really didn’t know a chakra from an artichoke at this point, but we went with it. Before continuing with my story, here is a crash course in chakras, for those of you that are confused, like I was!

What on earth is a chakra?

Chakras are 7 centers in our bodies where energy flows through and are vital to our health. If one or even all of these are blocked it can lead to illness or negative emotional responses, Jan explained. To visualize a chakra, envision a spinning wheel of energy. The Sanskrit word  for chakra literally means disk or wheel. Energy healing can open closed chakras.

The 7 Chakras

1. Root Chakra – Spine area – Represents feeling grounded. It impacts our vitality, passion, and survival instincts.

2. Sacral Chakra – Just below the belly button – It helps us connect and accept new people and experiences, sexuality, reproductive function, joy, desire, and creativity. Mine is wide open, baby! Whoo!

3. Solar Plexus Chakra – Stomach area – Directs the ability to be self-confident and feel our life is in control. It allows one to feel cheerful, confident, energetic.

4. Heart Chakra – Just above the heart – It affects our ability to love and has influence on relationships

5. Throat Chakra – Throat – This chakra works with the ability to communicate, listen, and use our energy efficiently. I think this one fell off at some point, can that happen?

6. Third Eye Chakra – Between our eyes – It gives the ability to see the bigger picture (literally as you will read later,) wisdom, imagination, and creativity. Mine was forgotten about like that old, dusty suitcase in the attic.

7. Crown Chakra – Top of head – Represents our ability to be connected spiritually, with heightened awareness.

So back to my session. I couldn’t see what Jan was doing, but I could feel her gently scanning my body with her hands inches above my skin. She worked her way around my body to find where I had blockages.

With a shocking accuracy, she could tell where my pain was. Ever the skeptic, I made sure I didn’t mention painful areas to see what she picked up. She was spot on, every session. Yes, I tested her, I admit it.

Finding the areas that needed work, she would hold her hand over and think healing energetic thoughts and brush old energy away. Truly, I felt a soft and radiant energy on my skin. It was a very slight warm tingle, but it was there. During this first session, she explained she would also clear each of the 7 chakras.

As the first session progressed, she worked her way around my body doing her energy clearing. She came to my forehead and placed her hands over a spot between my eyes.

In an instant, there was an incredible flash of light and an image that I will never forget. The colors were magnificent! I was so startled I almost jolted myself off the table by what I had just witnessed. The intensity of the image was shockingly bright even though my eyes were closed and covered.

An image with a dragonfly was burned in my mind along with brilliant colors. I have never seen anything like it until these sessions with Jan began. I was an artist in my younger years but I had put that hobby away for 20 years while raising kids.

I was so compelled by what I had experienced, I went home and began to draw what I had seen. I have always had a photographic memory, but there was no way I would forget this image. I was scared to draw, pain from fibromyalgia had caused me to give up my career as a graphic designer. The burning question remained, what if I never drew again? That scared me, so I did.

Watercolor & Ink Dragonfly Drawing

This is what I witnessed.

This experience was confusing to me. It was very deep and stirred something inside of me. I truly have never been the same. I have thought about this for over a year, and until now, I have not shared this with more than a couple people. I was shaken and embarrassed by my health, and by this experience. I was afraid people would think my train was a little off it’s rails.

My energy healing sessions continued, and this continued to happen each time. My art poured forth like I had never seen, and it helped me to work through my pain. One drawing turned into many more, and eventually my entire website. Every stroke of the pen was pain forgotten. Without this inspiration, my art would probably still been on the shelf.

With this journey, I now realize where I want to be. I wish to work with people and help them to find an escape from what ails them. Art literally focuses your brain in a different way so it helps you to focus less on pain or get out of your head for a bit. Need some inspiration? Check out my post, “8 Ideas to Inspire Artistic Creativity,” to get rolling.

The next time you find yourself needing to relax, escape, distract, or just stop unwanted thoughts, try art of some form. You don’t have to be good, you just need to be busy and focus on what you are doing. There are many avenues to explore, from drawing, doodling, coloring books, crocheting, find what you love!

I hope you feel inspired and perhaps find hope. Feel free to reach out to me at Graphic Brewery, our Facebook page! I would love to hear from you and appreciate your page like!  Don’t forget to sign up for our email list for life, art, and great design tips!

Brandie Larson

About Brandie Larson

Hey there! Welcome to my site! I'm am a barely 40, mother of 2 teens girls and wife to my great husband, Drew. Creativity is in my blood, I am addicted to drawing, graphic design, photography and more. My newest addiction is blogging and my many years of marketing makes this a perfect fit for me. The outdoors has always been my happiness, from fishing to hiking, I love Minnesota! Pets are also a passion, our family also includes an English Mastiff, Dachshund, Gypsy Vanner horse, and 2 cats.


  • Mary Larson says:

    Great article, awesome story!

  • Ann Jensen says:

    Interesting article!

  • Sofie says:

    I really connected to this posts when I read your story as someone in a similar position. I think this post is so full of hope and encouragement. It made me very happy reading this!

    ~ Sofie

    • Brandie says:

      Hi Sofie! I am really glad, it has been a tough road and out of it all I hope to inspire other people in this position. Feel free to friend me, I would love to get to know you! 🙂

  • Ericka says:

    Great read and informative!

  • Angela says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with me. I have been incredibly obsessed with your dragonfly art, as It has touched my old soul in a way I can not explain. I can’t stop looking at it or thinking about it and wishing for it to be part of life.

    ~ My new beginning

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