Tag Archives: rumi

Jelaluddin Rumi…


Do you know what your particular work is?



Physicians and Creative Interventions…

Have you ever wondered whether physicians believe in the healing properties of the creative process or even considered utilizing creative interventions  in their professional work?  A post written September 11, 2009,  titled ‘Healing the Healer’  highlights one physician (Robert Climko, MD, MBA) who embraces and implements the creative process through the written word, also known as narrative medicine.  The use of Creative Interventions in healthcare applies not only to patient care, but also healthcare professionals.  In either case, engaging in the creative process epouses the Self-Care theory taught in nursing curriculums.

Here’s another physician who embraces and promotes creativity and arts activities.  A family practitioner based at University of California, Gabrella Miotto, MD, MPH discovered the healing benefits of engaging in the arts through personal experience.  In an article in a Family Medicine journal, Dr. Miotto states,

“What is clear is that healing is an inner process through which a person becomes whole, more individuated, though not necessarily cured, and that creative expression allows us to create meaning through our personal inner intuitive resources.”

With this newfound belief, Dr. Miotto and artist Laurie Zagon, introduced a therapeutic arts program for adult patients suffering from grief, anxiety or depression.  The arts program is called ‘Bien Estar (Well-Being).  Wanting to share her belief that engaging in creative interventions with her colleagues, Dr. Miotto presented a workshop titled “Creativity and Healing: An Experiential Workshop,”  at the American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly and Wonca 2004 meeting.

By implementing creativity and the arts in healthcare systems, patients, families, staff, healthcare professionals and local communities all benefit by enhancing collaboration, harmony, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, empathy and self-care.  Below are a few creative interventions worth considering…

Artist-in-Residence program





Laughing Clubs

Creative exhibits with work created by patients, families, staff and healthcare professionals

Drumming circles

Indoor and outdoor gardens

Art at the bedside for patients and families




 And now I leave you with this poem by one of my favorite poets…Rumi

Rules About Restraint

There is nourishment like bread

that feeds one part of your life

and nourishment like light for another.

There are many rules about restraint

with the former, but only one rule

for the latter, Never be satisfied.

Eat and drink the soul substance,

as a wick does with the oil it soaks

in. Give light to the company.

~Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)

translated by Coleman Barks 

 Email me if you want the bibliography.


Drawing as a diagnostic tool in lupus patients

Here’s another interesting article on the use of drawing as a diagnostic tool in Med-U-Gdanskassessing people diagnosed with lupus, aka, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).   A qualitative study was conducted at the Medical University of Gdansk, Poland with 2 main goals.  First, to examine the ways illness is perceived and experienced by patients with lupus and second, to assess the use of drawing as as a diagnostic tool.

But first, let’s look at some facts about lupus…

What is lupus or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)?

According to the Lupus Foundation in Washington, D.C.,  “lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, kidneys”, heart, blood vessels, lungs and brain.

Lupus, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmunie disorder where the immune system cannot tell the difference butterfly_lupusbetween foreign substances and its own cells and tissues.  The immune system is designed to attack foreign substances in the body, but in lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system and begins to make antibodies that attack healthy cells and tissues causing inflammation, pain and damage to the body.

  • The primary feature of lupus is inflammation and is characterized by pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function, either on the inside or on the outside of the body (or both).
  • For most people, lupus is a mild disease ususally affecting a few organs.  But, for others, it may cause serious and even life-threatening problems.
  • Lupus affects more than 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million persons worldwide.
  • There is no known cause, but is believed to be triggered by a number of factors, such as environment and genetics.  Environmental factors triggering the disease are infections, antibiotics (sulfa and penicillin groups), UV light, certain drugs, hormones and extreme stress.
  • Scientists believe there may be a genetic predisposition to the disease, as lupus is known to occur within families. But, there is no known gene or genes which are thought to cause the illness.
  • More than 16,000 Americans develop lupus each year.
  • Lupus is more prevalent in women of African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American culturesmulticultural
  • Symptoms may be sporadic. The times when a person is having symptoms are called flares, which can range from mild to severe. New symptoms may appear at any time.
  • Common symptoms include: pain or swelling in joints,  muscle pain, fever sad-sunwith no known cause, red rashes on the face, chest pain when taking deep breaths, hair loss, pale or purple fingers or toes, sensitivity to the sun, swelling in legs or around the eyes, ulcers in the mouth, swollen glands, and feeling fatigued.

(Sources: Lupus Foundation, NAIMS/NIH)

 And now, back to the study on the use of drawing as a perceptual and diagnostic tool in assessing persons with lupus.  To summarize, the key points are below:

  1. Patients’ perceptions of their disease influences emotions, behavior, health care needs and expectations, and these perceptions results in differences in attitude, coping and functioning among patients with similiar clincial symptoms.  Which means patients’ personal views and attitudes of their disease differ despite similar clinical symptoms and diagnosis, and are important in promoting self-care and self-responsibility.
  2. Perceptions of illness can be a better indicator of future physical damage to the body and health condition than clincial signs and symptoms.
  3. Currently, the primary draw_crayonassessment tool in measuring illness perception is verbal communication.  By drawing their disease,  it had patients think about their disease in a different way, and produced “incredibly tangible” insight of the impact of lupus to the patients themselves and healthcare professionals.
  4. The study concludes there are a variety of symptoms and different clincial pictures based on the drawings, rather than ‘general’ symptoms experienced by patients with the same diagnosis.
  5. Drawing as a diagnostic tool can help healthcare professionals avoid forming and categorizing patient symptoms with the same diagnosis.

Asking patients to draw their disease provides a wealth of information  they may not be able to express in words.  The old phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ definitely applies here.  This is helpful in developing more individualized treatment plans that take patients’ perceptions and attitudes of their disease into account.  By actively engaging patients’ to take interest in their own treatment plans, the tenets of self-care and self-responsibility are more readily accepted by patients, thus leading to better patient outcomes.

Drawing provides valuable sensory and cognitive information to health professionals in understanding and treating patients with different disease conditions, not just lupus.

Note: email me if you want the bibliography

Below is a favorite Rumi quote…


Have you figured out what your particular work is?

What’s the REAL purpose of an arts program in healthcare?

Halloween Week to those living in the States!



I was on a forum dedicated to integrating creativity and the arts in healthcare about a week ago.  Someone inquired about research on the type of visual art suitable and appropriate for healthcare settings.  To sum up the responses that developed from that simple inquiry, it made me think about the importance of developing a vision statement and the need to periodically re-evaluate the REAL purpose of arts programs in hospitals and medical centers.

All too often, the vision and purpose of why a program was initiated in the first pquestion_mark4lace gets lost…to hidden motives, change in leadership, securing one’s position, time, etc.  The arts are especially vulnerable to becoming snobbish, hoighty-toighty, and intimidating.  This attitude and ‘air’ actually scares people from really enjoying and embracing art.  You can see this going on when you visit some art galleries – people talking in hushed tones, tip-toeing around, staff with attitudes — don’t let arts in healthcare programs, especially healthcare galleries, get to this level.  Now, not all art galleries are like this…there are some that are very welcoming and friendly.  Art should inspire and move you, make you question, reflect, think and ponder – not intimidate you.

question-mark61The purpose of arts programs can range from simple to comprehensive. From having a small gallery that rotates its’ exhibits or keeps it static to a full-blown fully integrated arts program, one that is part of the mission statement of the hospital system.  An arts program that offers art-making at the bedside; rotating exhibits of patients, families and heathcare staff’s artwork which can include paintings, poetry, sculpture, ceramics, handcrafted works, transformed books, etc.; musicians playing on patient units, the main lobby, cafeteria, diagnostic areas, on the campus; comedians; dance performers; readers (people reading to patients); storytellers…

If the real purpose is to have a simple gallery, then fine, then that’s the real purpose and nothing more.  By simply remembering the what’s, why’s and who’s of the arts program, the real purpose of the program will remain intact.  Why was the program started?  Whom does the arts program really beneft?  What is the real purpose/goal of the arts program?  Is the arts program attuned to the population it serves and the larger community?

(Rumi quote)

For next week’s post, I want to talk and explain the differences between creativity and the broad category of ‘the arts.’