How Getting Creative Heals Pain: An Interview with Deb Eiseman
As children, we can’t help but get in touch with creativity, we’re starting to learn how the world works, everything comes from a beginner’s mind. As we begin practicing and repeating things, the brain eventually figures it out and moves onto the next thing. Eventually, our curiosity for most things fades away as life begins routine and we miss out on the possibilities around us. That is why I’m always impressed and inspired when I find someone who uses creativity as a modality for healing.
Today I wanted to bring to you a former New York television executive Deb Eiseman, who after suffering debilitating chronic pain after a car accident found healing through creativity. Her life has now been transformed from one riddled with chronic pain to feeling happy as an artist and designer. She contends that it was through finding her creativity that she was healed. Can we do the same?
Elisha: Can you tell us what role finding that little $2.98 water color set played in your healing?
Deb: I truly believe it saved my life. It gave me purpose and provided me with something to focus on other than the pain. Painting became an integral part of my healing and in retrospect I feel like I was doing art therapy on myself.
I found painting to be very meditative and it was the one time of the day when I was actually in the present. I think that being in the present played an important part in my healing.
Also my days were filled with doctors appointments that were extremely depressing and it was hard to find hope. But when I would sit down to paint, I would see all these happy figures on the page (I never set out to paint anything – it just came through me) and I realized that even though I didn’t feel hope, there was some deep inside of me. That little $2.98 watercolor kit opened up the door to hope for me.
Elisha: If I’m trying to tap into my creative spirit for healing and as I try and keep coming up against the thought that “I’m just not that good at this stuff,” what do you suggest?
Deb: Don’t pay attention to those voices and just keep creating! I actually made a pact with myself that I would leave the paintings overnight and look at them the next day. There were a number of times when my inner perfectionist wanted to rip the paintings up because “they weren’t good enough.” The amazing thing is that the next day I never wanted to rip them up.
The other thing I discovered is that my painting wasn’t just about the destination – it was about the journey and the act of creating. One of the most beautiful parts of painting when I was in such horrible pain was that I would get out of my head and feel a connection to The Universe. I think that my healing came not only through the act of painting but also from feeling a connection I had never felt before.
Elisha: If you were sitting across the table from someone in chronic pain, what thoughts would you give them?
Deb: Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle. When you are in debilitating pain for an extended period of time, you either get bitter or get better. I feel like I reached a fork in the road and chose the path that allowed me to see the gifts in the pain. Pain is an amazing teacher and I feel so fortunate that I was conscious enough to be open to learning from it.
I also think that it is important to choose the intention to heal. When I was in such overwhelming pain, it was much easier to pay attention to the pain as opposed to the healing process. But then I realized that paying attention to the pain made me feel really powerless and just kept me in pain. Once I made the conscious choice to think about the healing process, everything started to shift and the healing unfolded.
Elisha: Thank you Deb!
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Photo courtesy of Deb Eiseman
Goldstein, E. (2012). How Getting Creative Heals Pain: An Interview with Deb Eiseman. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 9, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2012/10/how-getting-creative-heals-pain-an-interview-with-deb-eiseman/