art-of-healingNaomi Ardea’s The Art of Healing from Sexual Trauma: Tending Body and Soul Through Creativity, Nature, and Intuition is about reclaiming the inner child’s desire to play and cast off the weight and horror of past trauma and abuse. As Ms. Ardea so carefully writes, healing your trauma is a process and there’s no magic bullet to being completely and forever healed; however, reaching into your light and heart of creativity can fight off the darkness and activate your wholeness. That’s all of you, both light and dark, because without the sad, there’s no joy and without the pain there’s no health. And by acknowledging all parts of yourself you can find your intuition again, which unfortunately many abuse survivors have lost due to trust violations. Without this self-awareness trauma survivors can live their lives with their power half on because they numb not only grief and sadness, but also joy and light. Yes, it takes an enormous amount of effort and intention to be self-aware, but the rewards are boundless. Who doesn’t want to experience all of joy and rewards a human life offers?

The Art of Healing’s purpose is to give you the tools to heal yourself through art therapy and by being more sensitive to your body’s needs. This book is a workbook, art book and meditation guide—it is not quite a self-help memoir in the sense that the author shares all of her scars with the reader (she couldn’t share a lot of her information about her abuse because of legal reasons); although the author does reveal selected traumatic experiences in very powerful journal entries. She a gentle and effective mentor to her readers, so that they have specific how-to steps for their healing journey. This book will help heal your darkness; not plunge you back into your darkness.

I know I am guilty of powering through pain and not giving myself enough self-care which can include sleep, salt baths, and sensory exercises such as fingerpainting, intentional breathing, and lying on the ground with heated rice over your stomach. The Art of Healing provides such a strong reminder However, since I starting my dance and music practice three years ago, for these exact reasons of becoming more self-aware, I have noticed I am more resilient and stronger in mind and body. When I experienced a stress fracture in my right foot, I used a healing therapy Ms. Ardea describes that connects the right and left brain hemispheres: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy. The therapist slowly moves her hand back and forth so the client can follow the movement with her eyes—this helps develop neuroplasticity—awesome stuff—to make your brain and your muscles work better by expanding your body map that’s located in your brain.

Ms. Ardea gives specific tips on how to find the right helping professionals and also fills many pages with therapies that she has found tremendously useful such as Somatic Experiencing to help unlock trauma that’s trapped in the body—many, many traumas are trapped in the organs, especially when the trauma occurs when the victim is a child. Been there. Other therapies include Reiki, movement and touch therapies, EFT, herbal medicine and acupuncture.

Throughout the 11 chapters of the book, the first section is filled with examples of the author’s art and photography, along with explanations of why she painted that particular image. Her art is beautiful, raw and evocative and I kept thinking, Wow, I could never paint like that; I’m not a painter. But that’s misguided thinking—EVERYONE can paint. EVERYONE is an artist. Stop the self-shaming. That’s one of the many moments of awe and inspiration I found in Ms. Ardea’s book. I also appreciated how she included the “safe” symbol (or anti-trigger warning) of an oak leaf to let her readers know that they would be reading a trauma-free passage. Speaking of triggers, the author discusses how for survivors there are little “t” triggers and big “T” triggers that can take you back to all of the past hurt and pain—it’s helpful to be aware of your triggers. Examples could be hearing people chewing, tight clothing, and loud environments. Two of my triggers are door slamming and lip smacking sounds—thanks to Ms. Ardea I know that’s perfectly normal to have them and to know they may lessen or they may not with time.

Thanks to The Art of Healing, survivors now have a trusted guide in Naomi Ardea to take them by the hand from a turbulent, chaotic world to a quiet world of self-care and healing. Let me end with what Ms. Ardea says in her book’s beginning, “I wrote this book with myself in mind as well. It is healing for me to imagine giving a copy of this book to the distraught woman I was many years ago. I’d tell her to trust her feelings and to keep listening for her own inner voice for guidance on how she can heal her wounds.”

About Naomi Ardea

naomiNaomi Ardea is an artist, massage therapist, and mom. She believes in the healing power of connection that we can move toward health and peace by connecting to our bodies, our creativity, our community of support, and our Earth. Naomi is a contributing author in The Ethics of Touch, 2nd edition, by Ben Benjamin and Cherie Sohnen-Moe, a required text at over 250 healing arts schools. She advocates for rigorous ethics education and accountability in alternative healing professions. She also offers workshops to nurture creativity and inner awareness for holistic self-healing. Naomi lives, creates, and plays in the beautiful green landscape of North Carolina.

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