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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Holistic Alternatives to Pain—Local Voices: JOHN MURACO, Expressive Therapies

How does expressive therapy work to address pain?

Instrumental sound therapies and meditation exercises awaken the parasympathetic nervous system and can decrease stress hormones, calm the body and bring openness to lessen tension from personal histories and physical distress. Art therapy, a powerful relaxant, provides a platform with which to externalize the physical and emotional pain of life transitions; in a feeling of emptiness, it can spark insights and self-knowledge. The practice of yoga, with its heritage of healing and supportive technologies, can empower a broken heart, impassion our lives and goals and grace a wounded body with fluidity and flexibility.

Pain is different for everyone; it has a multitude of inner and outer manifestation, from acute pain after injury, to private pain from loss or major life change, to lifelong pain from past traumas and events. But pain’s infinite recesses all share a constant: the truth that we cannot work through pain without giving honor, time and thoughtfulness to the process. When a shapeless pain haunts our internal landscape, the question, “How do you feel?” can seem unanswerable. As a therapist and wellness practitioner, I welcome ambiguous answers, or an “I don’t know” as a gateway to exploring alternative, safe approaches to self-care, self-expression and self-understanding.

John Muraco is a Registered Art Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher and founder of Heartwell House at 58 E. Oakland Ave., Doylestown. For more information, call 267-733-7261 or visit

June 2017