John Seivert: Art – Healing and happiness through the heart
I have had the opportunity to share my stories, my patient’s stories, and draw from the evidence in the research that I read to generate my monthly column. Many ideas pop into my head at odd hours of the day and night and I scramble to find a piece of paper and jot down my idea or leave myself a voice message. I dictate a few keywords to get an article started and then research it further later. Last week Phil Carville’s column, Heart Happiness, talked about how happiness is good for the heart. He stated that as we grow older, we get in touch with our mortality. This awareness can lead to depression for some but can also lead to reflection and happiness for others. I’d like to take you into the world of how art and aging can lead you to healing and happiness. When our hearts are happy the grass is a bit greener, the sky a bit bluer and our bodies feel more complete.
There is plenty of evidence that supports the fact that seniors that are happy and healthy live longer than unhappy and sick people. I know that is obvious but for many, we just don’t do enough things that make us happy to create improved health benefits.
In 2017 I joined the Nevada County Camera Club (NCCC) thanks to a patient of mine who was an avid photographer encouraging me to do so for several months. Thank you, Larry. I had always loved outdoor nature photography and spent a great deal of time photographing the places I traveled during my postgraduate studies in Australia and during my professional career. My clinic has had beautiful landscape photography in every room for 20 years thanks to Jay Schuff and his work. Recently I have been blessed enough to add my own pieces of work to the clinic walls. When people in pain look at a beautiful piece of art, it moves them, spirits are lifted, and a sense of wellbeing embraces their bodies. Seeing these positive effects on people in pain created great motivation on my part to create even more images of beauty so that it creates happiness to the viewer. And if we are happy, we feel better.
Story Telling Through Pictures
For thousands of years humans have been telling stories through pictures. Petroglyphs are rock carvings (rock paintings are called pictographs) made by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and a hammerstone. These works of art can be found all over the world. Petroglyphs are powerful cultural symbols that reflect the complex societies and religions of the local tribes. These drawings have continued to tell stories and create feelings and emotions. The tools used now to tell a story are a camera, paint brush and canvas, pen, and paper (OK, computer), or an audio recording. We have become more advanced in our ways of telling stories, but the message and its effects are similar.
Camera Club Challenge
In a recent camera club monthly challenge, I worked with Kathy Triolo on capturing creative outside portrait photography. Kathy and I entered our images to a photography competition called Aging as Art by the Council on Aging – Southern California. Both of our images are displayed here and on this website.
The YouTube video of the presentation is called 2021 Aging as Art Reception. My story of Joy and Love is thirty-one minutes into the presentation.
An image can speak to you, however, an image with the photographer’s story behind it can say so much more. All these images create reflection, emotions, and maybe even happiness. For some, these images create a sense of motivation to stay healthy through movement, diet and to keep the brain sharp with a creative outlet like art. I have seen evidence of elite body builders that use images for motivation. Darren, a recent patient of mine stated that he has several images of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the walls of his garage posing for the judges when he was competing in body building competitions in the 1970s.
My image Joy and Love took place in June 2020 just two months into the pandemic. This man told me he and his wife were unable to have their kids and grandkids over for their 66th wedding anniversary due to the pandemic. I captured this shot at the end of an evening photo shoot as they both closed their eyes and said thanks. More of the story can be heard on the YouTube presentation listed above.
This image of Rodney was taken by local professional photographer Kathy Triolo in the gold mining town of Coloma. While capturing images of the old gold mining town she was able to capture Rodney, a man who would dress up in period clothing of the 1800s and model for the visitors. Kathy captured this amazing shot of Rodney leaning on his cane and gazing into the distance.
The next time you see an image that moves you, pause and take it in. Feel it. It may make you happy, sad, excited, depressed, reflective, or motivated. Use those feelings and emotions for what it’s giving you at the time. I allow myself time to grieve on a regular basis. I have a wonderful picture of my deceased parents nestled up to each other. The image brings me to tears every time I look at it. I then recall episodes with my mom and dad during my childhood, college days, or adult life. I take it all in and feel grateful for the photo.
John Seivert is a doctor of physical therapy and he has been practicing for 34 years. He opened Body Logic Physical Therapy in Grass Valley in 2001. He has been educating physical therapists since 1986. Contact him at bodylogic2011@ yahoo.com
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