WRITE WELL, BE WELL WORKSHOPS begin at Atlantic Center for the Arts, January 15th, 2018. Read more about the workshops.
CHI recommends learning more about Daoism, Tai Chi and Chi Gong at https://daousa.org/. Or, for just a healthful mountain retreat: http://daohouse.com/retreat-program/. Dr. Axelrod is an Elder on the Board of DaoUSA.
Fitness and well-being spotlight
Poet talks about the healing power of poetry
Words can hurt and words can heal, said local poet, author and retired university professor David B. Axelrod. As a form of expression, poetry can focus people’s intense feelings for the sake of wellness. He will discuss the healing power of poetry as well as present the documentary, “Healing Words: Poetry & Medicine,” on Sept. 7 at Cinematique Theater, 242 S. Beach St., Daytona Beach. Axelrod, the founder of the Creative Happiness Institute, spoke to The News-Journal about the power of poetry.“It’s the idea that you can express yourself, feel well, feel empowered,” he said. “Get your gripes off your mind and feel more open. Those are the intentions of poetry and writing therapy.”
How do you use poetry to help people?
My own technique for letting people get in touch with their deepest emotions combines meditation exercises and altered image exercises. I help participants relax into the moment and from there I guide them to picturing experiences charged with emotion. The acronym for my organization (Creative Happiness Institute) is CHI, the Chinese word for “energy.” When I write, I feel an energy rising inside me that finds its way to my fingers and the pen/keyboard and into words. That happens when I am trying to write my emotions.
Yes, poets can use poetry as a hobby or even for simple humor. But putting one’s joys and pains into just the right words is liberating. It is personally therapeutic and it also can give rise to very powerful art.
How can it be an emotional outlet?
There is an American Poetry Therapy Association that trains and accredits therapists. They use a set of poems that their participants discuss and then those poems become a model — even a template — for individuals to write their own poems. The process helps people get their feelings out and into words. Generally, I don’t worry about the form the writing takes at the outset. I will help someone find the poem within the words they first write. Whatever the methodology, yes, poetry, and story writing, can be a healthy outlet. The results of poetry therapy, if not forced into any specific form, can also trigger marvelously original creations.
Do you thinking creative writing/poetry teaches empathy for others ?
Candidly, much of poetry is either obscure or trivial, and that kind of poetry is easily dismissed. When one reads an important poem, it triggers a strong personal reaction and that is what I mean by “empathy.” Not just surface sympathy, but a real connection between people through the poem — its words and images.
How has poetry helped your own health ?
I have been a lifelong poet. I started writing in third grade and poetry by the time I was 12 or 13. The muse has been my faithful companion all through my life. Certainly, it has been a source of stability. I write about every subject. I’m not inhibited. I don’t think of it as extroversion. I think of it as sharing.
What is the documentary about ?
The film recounts the work of health professionals in the hospital who encourage people to put their deepest feelings into words and share those feelings. The result is that same release of pain, discovery of others who feel similarly. It is a very powerful set of examples of how writing can help people feel better. I am also trying to get some of the American Poetry Therapy practitioners to come down from Jacksonville to talk with us at Cinematique. I note that poetry comes to us through traditions of prayer. People pray together, chant and sing together, recite a poem/creed together and with that, healing takes place.
Fitness & Well-being Spotlight is a weekly feature profiling area residents who have made healthy habits a priority in their lives, or those dedicated to helping others make healthy lifestyle changes. If you would like to nominate someone for a profile, email email@example.com. Copyright © 2014 News-JournalOnline.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.