So we’re two months into the new year. You’ve held true to your healthy resolutions; whirled up and consumed gallons of kale and acai berry smoothies, done hours of meditation, started crossfit to shake things up, but you’re still feeling slightly flat.
Maybe it’s time to incorporate some clay into your routine? Not into your diet (that’s another article) but between your hands!
Use ceramics for well-being. You can pound clay, shape it, throw it on a wheel let it slip through your hands, then shift it into something that didn’t exist before. Its meditation, stress relief, and neuron building. It’s magic!
Creative Arts Impact Well Being
Evidence strongly points out that participating in creative arts can positively impact our health to the same degree as nutrition or exercise.
We’ve been doing art as long as we’ve been human. It’s an intrinsic component of what we are. We’re driven to create; to express ourselves. Children do it intuitively, but unfortunately, our culture holds the misconception that doing art is a luxury allowed to only the young. As adults we run from one responsibility to another, leaving no time for our own personal creative enrichment. Many of us don’t even realize that we are missing it.
Being in the Moment
We all need quiet moments when we can transcend into the act of making. Really, any material, medium or venue, are good, but the all-consuming tactile experience you get from playing with clay is incredibly powerful. There is a deeply primal satisfaction in the act of creating something from what is literally earth and water; pushing it, pulling it and getting dirty. Asking the clay to go where we want it to go while compromising with the clay body’s limits. It’s an exercise in patience, but also profoundly rewarding.
We now know that we can continue to create new neurons well into our eighties. Brain research shows that making new brain cells, neurogenesis, happens by doing something new, exciting and energizing. The cement that holds these new neurons into permanence is physical activity. That makes clay arts a perfect brain builder; concentration, exploration with lots of full body muscle engagement. Furthermore, art enrichment programs demonstrate that active participation in the arts delays aging disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and can improve brain function and mood in those already impacted by neuropsychiatric conditions including depression and anxiety.
Go for Process, Not Product
Sometimes in the process of neuron-building we might simultaneously build a cup, or a bowl, or even a ceremonial teapot, but the true health value is in the process of making, long before the vessel comes off the wheel. If a bowl materializes from your pinch-pot or a cup does come off the wheel, it’s a secondary bonus to all that you’ve already gained. This act of doing is specifically about each of us as a do-er, and not as a consumer of someone else’s doing. Yes, by all means attend the concert, museum, and be a patron of the arts. Artists of every level need our support, but take time for self-care and create some creativity-time for yourself.
St. Johns Clay Collective
Come by the studio in North Portland’s Cathedral Park Place and put your hands to work. We offer classes, lessons, and private events. St. Johns Clay Collective