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It is a well-known fact that art has healing effects on an agitated or a glum mind alike. I for one have always been aware of this and have often encouraged friends to find creative outlets to manage stress, anxiety, depression or even anger management. Things like this always happened to ‘others’, I would never be in a situation where I would need that advice myself. I managed my stress with cups of tea or by spending time with friends, their kids, watching movies, listening and swaying to music or a good meal out always worked, apart from creating a life on Pinterest of course. Life was good and in control.
A sudden job loss last March followed by a brusque relationship crisis stopped me in my tracks by June. Feelings of disillusionment, betrayal, hopelessness, denial and basically devastation ensued. Depression followed naturally. But I was a trooper; moreover these things happened to ‘others’. I didn’t need advice – not my own, not that of others.
How would my popular craft or beading jewelry ever build back my exhausted confidence? What could drawing something on a paper do to your dying spirit? Music, even listening to it was all just noise. My eyes were too misty to read anything from a book and attention span shrunk enough to leave sentences midway – written or read. Of course none of this would help, said my state of mind. All that I preached confidently to others, felt futile. Despite being firsthand witness to success stories, it felt pointless to be pursuing anything creative, or anything at all. Being a screen zombie, scrolling through other people’s art on social media was nice and most of all convenient from my cocoon. I was surviving.
Surviving more often means that motivation is all too downbeat and ‘focus’ is a word for the camera. But I woke up, survived and went back to bed, day after day, until one day my sister brought home a bunch of 6”x 6” plain white cards and began drawing mandalas. A pen, a compass and a protractor were the only other things she needed. Many afternoons I saw her filling petals of mandalas with tiny details, one getting better than the other. A couple of weeks down the line and she had also ordered some drawing pens online, a set of 6 pens with tips of various thicknesses, which meant more scope for detailing and creativity. I had to give this a try.
I have always been fascinated by mandalas – something about the simplicity within the complexities. There was a form yet there were dimensions and intricacies within that you could fill in as you like. I would probably call this free-style mandala or simply mandala art because in essence we are digressing from the authentic form that we know as Hindu and Buddhist symbols. While the basic form used in mandala art is round in its first impact, what you fill in is completely at your free will.
Drawing mandalas has been therapeutic. I spent 6 hours experimenting with designs on my first mandala. This was my first healthy distraction in months. By the end of it my shoulders and arms had stiffened, but still something felt nice. Just completing the mandala felt like an achievement. The repetitive patterns felt relaxing. I made a new one the very next day and then another. I hadn’t felt enthusiasm since my heartbreak 9 months ago, but it revived and I knew I could help myself. A self-taught jewellery designer, I have my brand that had been latent as well for a while, but I made a few quick neckpieces that got sold almost as quickly. A beautifully timed push, I knew the mandalas were working.
Mandala art is now popular as art therapy and I am not an artist. This is the block I would like to clear for anyone who feels this obstacle. One does not need to be an artist to pursue mandala art for therapy or otherwise. You begin with a few concentric circles and you go with the flow; finding, making and repeating patterns – that is the therapeutic part. For me, with each mandala I drew, there was a sense of positivity. If I did them at night, I also felt a bit meditative, slept a little better and most of all, regained focus and perseverance. The only thing that changed in the past 9 months was my energy into mandala art, and I credit this slow revival of sprit to the release I gained from it. This is my thing for now. I can confidently claim I am a mandala art enthusiast, looking forward to build on its therapeutic benefits while also just enjoying the process. I am now also clearing dust off my jewellery making passion and other pursuits, creative and otherwise.
The process of mandala art (my creative outlet by chance, thanks to my sister) has cleared some blocks I had developed the past year. These blocks consequentially created further blocks in mostly all aspects of my life but hope is restored that the positivity and focus I am regaining will clear these too, one at a time. My patience is honed and I am back to where I stopped in my tracks last year; in complete acceptance of the phase that is fading away into oblivion. Everything in my life had changed; my routine, my home, my free-spirited being, and just everything else. But hope is fully restored.
Creative outlets are essential. It needn’t take a downtime to find you one but make that a constant pursuit and dabble in anything that makes you happy, relaxed and insightful – do it now and do it often is my two bits for anyone seeking a balance.
Love and light,
The best way a child learns to stay away from danger is to experience it. Guardians may even allow the child to go through it as long as they can handle the situation, and use other methods for situations they cannot. These real experiences create a deep understanding at the intellectual, conscious and subconscious level, resulting in long lasting behavioural change.
Obviously anything learnt from experience has the best impact on the learning curve. Unfortunately as we grow older, neither all real experiences are safe, nor will we be fortunate enough to be given second chances based on real experiences. And no guardians to protect us from the unexpected.
So what is the next best tool for learning? – A simulation of the stark reality in a safe environment?
In modern times, technology helps create some beautiful simulations. We can play around with these to create companies, design & market products, plan financials, acquire, sell, build, and just about do anything when it comes to interacting with inanimate commodities. What happens when real people, real conflicts and responses are needed? When connections beyond the intellectual realm influence results? The easiest (and cheapest!) technology here is to pretend-play with each other and/or to sit back and watch our points of view come alive, in our simulated safe environment that allows for experimentation.
Using theatre as a tool for training by involving every participant in the process, stimulates varied perspectives. It immediately showcases the conflicts, the impact of decisions, styles of communication, team chemistry, leadership challenges, personal strengths/improvement areas, understanding of organizational values, unconscious biases, impact on diversity and a whole range of human emotions that will need attention.
The effectiveness of using theatre can be measured firstly for identifying improvement areas, and secondly for involving the participants to be solution providers. Since this is done as part of the role play and storytelling, it brings about a deep emotional connect and the truth of the moment, resulting in very high ownership and involvement for the solutions. Multiple intelligence engagement promotes profound understanding and very high retention of the ensuing drama. The safe and fun environment of imagination and human emotions, opens the mind and helps bring out the child inside to respond with delight, honesty, recognition and hope. It raises awareness unconsciously and helps in building an environment of trust, education, reflection and debate, resulting in ACTion for progress and change.
Asana, Pranayama & Meditation,
Hatha & Power Yoga,
along with nuances from Ashtanga Vinyasa, BKS Iyengar and Dance.
Conducted by an RYT Certified Trainer
Venue: #90, 4th Cross (Park road), AGS Layout,
New BEL Road, Bangalore – 54
I recently taught a workshop on hip openers for a group of enthusiastic yoga teachers in Helsinki, Finland. As the hips are said to be the trash bin of ignored and trapped emotions, I decided to start the workshop with a short (that turned out to be rather long, really) talk about the issue.
All out past traumas cause a kind of a residue that settles in the hips and get stuck if we don’t learn to release and let them go. Asanas that work on opening and softening our hips can help release the residue , resulting in a rather emotional experience for the practitioner.
When I first started yoga I kept hearing people tell me they’ve experienced sudden onsets of emotions during a completely ordinary, routine yoga session. I, in all honesty, never really believed them. I must’ve be one of the most cynical aspiring yogis in the world! But to be honest, my practice was very superficial for many many years. Only about four years ago when I started deepening my practice, I understood what a deep connection there is between body and mind. I mean I always knew it in a sense that I had heard stories and read yoga books that talk about this unity, but I never felt it. My body never knew it.
So there I am, talking about hips and emotions, when I suddenly realise that the only way we can let the emotions out and release them in a healthy way, is to surrender. It hits me like a ton of pricks. I thought I was the teacher in this workshop and here I am having a little epiphany. Just surrender! That is the key. Just let go of the horrendous need to be in (unhealthy) control all the time. Surrender in an asana instead of forcing your body go any further than it needs to. Surrender in life, in a sense that learn to go with a flow instead of mapping and planning every turn. Give it a try and see where it takes you.
I am not saying it is simple or easy. Surrendering and letting go take a huge amount of courage and willingness to walk the path that opens up to you. We tend to think that surrendering means being a push over, but by surrendering we actually can empower ourselves much better that if we constantly fight to be in control. Blend in with the universe! It will take care of you, if you let it.
So my little talk about hips and emotions turns into an excited yapping about all of the above. And a studio full of fellow practitioners nod in equally exited agreement. So we surrender to our hip opening, water element focused asana practice and afterwards we fully succumb to platefuls of delicious aloo gobi in a near by restaurant.
– Anna Olkinuora