The Body Keeps The Score Essay

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Bessel van der Kolk (2014) in his groundbreaking book, “The Body Keeps the Score,” explores how trauma memories are stored nonverbally in the physical body and brain. He recommends yoga as one pathway to release that somatic memory and re-establish equilibrium. Many of the benefits of art therapy are also associated with yoga. They are both experience-based, guided by intention, promote self-awareness, encourage a state of flow, activate the limbic brain, reduce stress, encourage observation rather than judgement, are adaptive, and encourage change and healing (Gibbons, 2015). Yoga stretches can be incorporated into art therapy sessions to address the large muscle movements associated with the ETC kinesthetic component and to reduce tension. Yoga can also induce a state of body-based present-moment awareness and sensory calm.
Sensory calm can be achieved through mindfulness practices (Altman, 2014). Like yoga, mindful art therapy with sensory materials can lead to a state of emotional regulation. Sensory experiences with art materials, like other mindfulness practices, encourage focus on the present moment and pure sensation while allowing thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgement. Mindfulness meditation practices such as diaphragmatic breathing or deep belly breathing can also bring awareness back to the present and distract people from obsessive, nonproductive thoughts and feelings of anxiety or depression (Cohen, Barnes, & Rankin,
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