Painting Your Inner Self: An Artist’s take on how Art can help you Connect with Your Emotions
By Saurabh Syal
Do you ever feel overwhelmed with emotions but find it hard to express them in words? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I do feel it sometimes too. Emotions can be complex and tricky to put into words. But here’s a cool idea: why not try expressing yourself through art? Last week, I got fortunate enough to interview Ibrahim Gailani, a profound Pakistan-born contemporary artist, where I learned about a very unique concept of sharing emotions without saying a word. Amazing, right?
So if you’ve been struggling to express yourself verbally, read on, as Gailani shares how you can pick up a paintbrush and paint your emotions. You might be surprised at the insights and revelations you’ll gain in the process.
1. How did Ibrahim Gailani discover art’s connection to wellness?
As with every famous artist’s story goes, Gailani started painting at the very early age of six. However, as he grew older, he entered the corporate world to make a living and got occupied with balancing his work life, personal life, and married life, which left little time for his art. After 20 years of working in the corporate world, he started feeling stagnated in life and decided that it was time to let go of it and make time for his real passion – art. He took a break for a year and traveled the world to visit various art galleries and meet various artists.
He quotes – “If you don’t find the right path, don’t worry! The Universe will give you signs and perhaps take you there ultimately.”
During his time in Oman, he collaborated with a famous Iranian-American artist at an Art Retreat Event, where he was introduced to the fact that art can also be a gateway to mental wellness. He continued many such collaborations with different artists and found the concept fascinating. He started working together with wellness companies, and psychologists and enrolling in teaching sessions from gurus.
After a year of practicing art and wellness together, Gailani created the unique genre of “Wellness Art Retreats” which is now being conducted every month at The H Dubai hotel.
2. Why you don’t need to be a professional artist to benefit from art therapy.
Your feelings can be turned into art. Yes, you heard it right and Gailani explains how.
In his Wellness Art Retreats, Gailani starts with meditation, discussion, and visualization sessions to get participants in touch with their emotions and thoughts. Instead of telling them how to paint, he helps them to connect with their inner-self through Art and guides them to pour their emotions onto a canvas before ending his retreats with a group reflection and deliberation session. The retreats are for everyone, from an artist to someone who has never used a paintbrush. Being a poet myself, I think any form of art can be a powerful tool for emotional expression and healing, not just for artists but everyone, as long as you bring an open mind and the willingness to let go.
So now you know, you don’t have to be a professional artist to create art that expresses your emotions. It’s all about processing and letting go of what’s inside of you. Next time you feel your emotions bottled up, try to express them through any form of art, whether it’s painting, writing poetries, singing, or dancing. You may surprise yourself with what you create and how it makes you feel.
3. The Importance of Taking Breaks: What Better way than Mixing Art with Meditation
After spending 20 years in the corporate grind, Gailani is a firm preacher of taking breaks from your busy life and making time for yourself. His personal advice to me was “As in youth while trying to make a career and relationships, don’t forget to pause and observe what’s happening around you as that is the key to finding the meaningful part of life.” The phrase that stuck with me is when Gailani said – ” Take A Pause, will you?”
If you had a chance to attend any of his Art Retreat Events (book your seat here), after the meditation round, he’ll sit down with you separately and speak to you one-on-one about your LIFE. And let me tell you he’s a keen observer and listens intently to what you have to say, cause that will help him to bring out your inner sentiments on your painting canvas.
So, if you’re feeling stuck or unfulfilled, maybe it’s time to take a step back, observe, and perhaps join a Wellness Art Retreat to let your inner artist out!
4. It’s okay not to be okay!
Gailani recalls a story of his one student who was unhappy with his painting as he couldn’t finish it as he envisioned it to be. Gailani mentioned to him that it was ok and that he takes a simple pause and try to look at the painting from a different angle. And I learned that sometimes, in life, things don’t go as planned, and it’s okay, as there is always a different perspective to focus on.
I remember when I lost a close friend of mine two years ago, it made me feel deeply saddened and somehow empty from the inside. With no one to express my feelings with, I felt stuck. But as my grandmother says, there is always light after dark. All you need to do is find the art that enables you to express your emotions freely, and whenever you are in this situation again, just say to yourself, “Take a Pause, will you?”
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