Gilah Yelin Hirsch: Positive Energy of Art and Altruism Foster Physical Healing
Professor of art Gilah Yelin Hirsch is a participant and discussant at the 2010 Council Grove Conference of the Center for Environmental and Energy Medicine next month in Council Grove, Kan. The closed invitational conference, limited to 100 international participants, was first convened in 1969 to explore all aspects of consciousness. Within this context, popularly recognized medical techniques, such as biofeedback, have been invented. Hirsch has been affiliated with the conference since 1982.
Over the last three decades, Hirsch has developed a series of hypotheses showing a relationship between physiological systems and perceptual patterns that affect behavior, health and healing. Her research has led her to the conclusion that consciousness of intentionality is hard-wired in the human body and tends toward behavior benefiting the greater good.
Hirsch says that those who risk alienation by not allowing themselves to be absorbed into mainstream thought – which often hinders creativity and altruism – are the ones who advance humanity.
“Desperation and feelings of helplessness in the face of social, political, economic, and relational forces often restrain innate creativity of thought and independent behavior aimed toward the greater good,” she says. “People too often allow themselves to be suppressed into ‘sheep’ mentality and are reluctant to trust their intuition for fear of retribution and exile from the community. However, when we look at the history of civilization we see that progress was made only by those who dared risk independent vision and farseeing experimentation.”
In June, Hirsch will present an illustrated lecture “Bio-Theology, Imagery, and Healing: An Exploration into the Relationship Between Calcium and Bodhicitta, Health and ‘Right Action’” at the 20th annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM) in Westminster, Colo. Hirsch’s discussion, which also appeared in the Hungarian Journal of Anthropology, Shaman, examines the psychophysiological affects of the Tibetan Buddhist tantric visualization practice of bodhicitta (compassion), as it parallels the ingestion of the mineral calcium, as prescribed in allopathic medicine. Through disciplines including art, science, psychiatry, and theology, Hirsch will demonstrate how this approach has been used in healing.
Many of Hirsch’s art pieces, particularly “Who Will Live and Who Will Die?” (1999) and “Ruach/Wind Spirit” (2001), depict bodhicitta as molecules of calcium and compassion that circulate through the human body. The artist says that “A volition to heal – to restore a harmonic pattern both spiritually and physically – is a foundational element of healing.”
“Gratitude for all that does work, even in the tiniest of increments, is how positivity can provide a nourishing medium for the process of healing to occur. Believing that health and ability are to be used in creative service for others helps focus the resulting strength outward toward the greater good and gives meaning and purpose to life.”
In 2008 and 2009, Hirsch led a group of her painting students and alumni on a yearlong project to provide murals for the Watts Health Center. She has also conducted healing art workshops for the Sunshine Kids, a national nonprofit that focuses on pediatric cancer patients. She is currently at work on “Reading the Landscape,” a film that illustrates the relationship between forms in nature, neurology of perception and cognition, and alphabets of the world. The project evolved from requests for a children’s version of her 1995 film, “Cosmography: The Writing of the Universe.”
An exhibition of more than 30 of her paintings has been traveling in Europe since 2005. The exhibit will next open in Bielefeld/ Werther, Germany in September. Hirsch’s paper, “Eskimos Have No Word or Concept for ‘Future’: Cultural Suicide in Nunavut” was recently published in the Russian Academy of Sciences Journal on Medical Anthropology in both Russian and English.
Hirsch’s home has been featured in the Rizzoli book, “Cottages in the Sun: Bungalows in Venice, California” by Margaret Bach. The house, which was built in 1904, was rescued from the wrecking ball by Hirsch in 1974 to be recreated as a sculptural environment, and will be featured in the annual Venice Garden and Home Tour on May 1. Her work will also be featured in the invitational "Incognito" exhibit which also opens on May 1 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.
To view more of Hirsch’s work and for more information, click here.
- Joanie Harmon