Blog : Integration

Quiet the Analyst & Honor Your Shadow:

Quiet the Analyst & Honor Your Shadow:

5 fun and safe ways to express your “wild thing”

What is your Shadow, and how can you honor it? In Jungian psychology the Shadow is an unconscious aspect of your personality. The conscious ego does not fully identify with this aspect of self. However, our Shadow is often the seat of creativity and recognition and integration of our “darker side” can actually be freeing and revitalizing.

While the Analyst in us – the part that wants to “make sense if it all” and interpret the meanderings of our minds and psyches – means well, it isn’t always helpful. Sometimes it is important not to “tame” these “darker” parts, but rather to find healthy, fun and appropriate ways of expressing them. Here are 5 ways to express your inner wild thing:

1.       Howl at the moon

I mean it. Go outside. Feel your feet on the earth and take time to moon gaze. If you want to make a sound – do it. You might be startled to hear yourself and – dare I say it – even enlightened by these sounds, be it guttural or simply a whisper.

 

2.       Messy your hands

Grab some acrylic paints or chalk pastels and simply play with mixing the colors using only your fingers. Absorb yourself and delight in how the colors mix. Notice how your fingers slide over the paper when covered with this media. Don’t worry. It isn’t “supposed” to be anything. It is just fun.

 

3.       Dance unabashedly

Put on a tune that you can’t help but move to. We all have at least one. I’m a little embarrassed to admit mine. They are The Lion Sleeps Tonight (listen to the original Zulu version) and, yes, ACDC Thunderstruck. Find a clear space where you can move as much as you want to. Let go. Your body will do the rest – if you let it. My inner head banger deserves to be let out on occasion, if only in the confines of my home. (This song actually came on during my partner’s and my first date. He said it was a “high risk” move to begin to head bang to it, but I literally could not help it. I’m glad he didn’t judge me – too much – for it.)

 

4.        Free write

This can be a bit tricky for people. It is finding time to disengage from our internal critic and allow ourselves to just write – about anything. There is absolutely no thought about grammar, spelling or punctuation. Our 8th grade English teacher would hate this. You might even notice that your penmanship looks different. That is a good thing. You have tapped into a different part of your brain.

 

5.       Go on an adventure

It can be in as little as 5 minutes or much, much longer. Take time to not have an agenda and see what you might experience and learn. Have fun!

* If you liked this article, you might like our upcoming retreats.

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Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where she shows stressed out professionals how to reignite their creativity and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives through the power of brain science. Take the 7 Day Creative Brain Challenge to reclaim and recharge your creativity – in 10 minutes a day or less!

 

 

Mindfulness and Growth

Mindfulness and Growth

As a counselor and art therapist, I am honored to work with people who are seeking greater happiness, improved health and well-being and more fulfilling relationships and careers. I often describe my job in the following way: I help people cultivate the optimal conditions for growth and healing to occur. While the conditions are unique to the individual, one of the most powerful practices that I teach is mindful awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings and sensations.

Consider for a moment something you do habitually that you would like to change.

Have you been meaning to eat more whole foods? Perhaps you feel you deserve a loving relationship and want to stop dating people who mistreat you. Another common experience is to wish you can “let go” of anger or resentment you feel toward the person who wronged you. Despite your strong will and determination, you find yourself pulling into the donut shop, calling your ex, or seething at the mere thought of that person who brings out the worst in you.

Before we order that donut…

dial the number or vent to our friends about how awful that wrong-doer is, there is a very crucial moment. There is a moment of discomfort. Within this moment of discomfort resides great opportunity. The opportunity is to experience the arising and dissolving of that discomfort. When we bring our objective awareness to present moment experience, we notice that a feeling or sensation that seemed to have no end actually does have a life cycle, however brief it may be. It will likely arise again later that day or with the very next inhale. With regular practice of mindful awareness, it has been shown that those moments “in-between” increase in duration. We will notice anger or craving and then notice no anger and no craving. As such, the practice begins to poke holes in experiences that had felt solid and lasting. We begin to experience (not just in theory but in practice) spaciousness even in tight places.

By applying objective awareness to pure experience, we liberate ourselves…

even for just a micro-moment, of any punitive and shaming inner dialogues that, while well-intended, actually impede growth and change. Approaching even the least appealing aspects of our experience with an open-minded curiosity carves out a little space that wasn’t there previously. From this more spacious perspective, we can see new options and choose to act in ways that are more aligned with our values. People report feeling more calm, confident and competent in handling the inherent challenges of life. After nearly twenty years in the field of personal growth and development, I can say with confidence that mindful awareness is one of the most empowering tools that I both practice and teach.

* If you liked this article, you might like our upcoming retreats.

 

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Camille Bianco MA, NCC

Camille Bianco MA, NCC earned her Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology & Art Therapy from Naropa University. She began formal training in Art Therapy and Meditation in 2000 and continues to incorporate researched-based creative expression and mindfulness approaches into her professional consulting practices. Connect with Camille on Goolge+.

Creativity & the Brain

Creativity & the Brain

Why and how does creativity affect the brain?

It feels different when we are in a “creative flow” and this is due to the structure of the brain. The brain is divided both vertically and horizontally. There are three distinct, but interconnected, hierarchies of the human brain that evolved overtime. They are

1) the brainstem (our “lizard brain”),

2) the limbic system (our “mammalian brain”) and

3) the neocortex (what makes us human).

The brainstem is like our autopilot. It controls the things we don’t have to “think” about such as balance and heart rate. The limbic system is the source of our emotions and instincts, and the neocortex is only in the brain of higher mammals. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), at the front of the neocortex, is responsible for cognition and reasoning.

Our brain is also organized horizontally and is divided into two hemispheres,

connected by the corpus callosum. The left hemisphere specializes in language, logic and facts. It is linear and conscious. The right hemisphere is the seat of emotion and is non-linear. It is beneath consciousness. One of the extraordinary aspects of creative expression is that it bypasses rational thought and logical assumptions.

Creative expression

targets the right hemisphere and limbic system of the brain, which are visual, sensory and emotional in nature. (The right prefrontal cortex is deeply connected to the limbic areas of the brain and is central to affect regulation.)This allows art and imagery to circumvent psychological resistance, which is typically analytic in nature. The Arts (in all their forms) also allow for the externalization of these very inner experiences and gives them shape and form outside the body and mind. Creativity gives expression to that which cannot, because of the structure of the brain, be spoken. This, in turn, provides opportunity to re-imagine concepts of self and identity. Scientists have also discovered that the very act of creating – integrating the brain both vertically and horizontally – reduces anxiety, depression and pain, decreases blood pressure, strengthens immune functioning and improves attention and concentration.

* If you liked this article, you might like our upcoming retreats.

Dayna-Wood-Blog-Post

Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where she shows stressed out professionals how to reignite their creativity and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives through the power of brain science. Take the 7 Day Creative Brain Challenge to reclaim and recharge your creativity – in 10 minutes a day or less!

Balance is Not an Achieved State…

Balance is Not an Achieved State…

It is ever shifting.

I grew-up in the mountains of Idaho, so I am going to give a snowboarding analogy; however, this can be easily translated to surfing or longboarding which are staples in this paradisal climate. While snowboarding, I didn’t find one position atop the board and stay there. With every variation in the terrain, I had to alter my balance by flexing a hamstring or lowering a shoulder. After years, this can became second nature and I didn’t have to think about the many components that went into balancing. At first though, it was painful and full of falls and bruises (and some more expensive doctor’s visits).

What would you include in your Personal Wellness Plan to practice an “ever shifting balance”?

Perhaps you want to re-evaluate your Personal Wellness Plan quarterly or whenever you feel a major shift in the “terrain” of life. A good starting point is to begin each day by asking yourself, “What does Wellness mean for me today?” and let that guide your actions and interactions from moment to movement.

* If you liked this article, you might like our upcoming retreats.

Dayna-Wood-Blog-Post

Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where she shows stressed out professionals how to reignite their creativity and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives through the power of brain science. Take the 7 Day Creative Brain Challenge to reclaim and recharge your creativity – in 10 minutes a day or less!

 

 

To Be Well

To Be Well

Wellness is a word we see used more and more frequently and can be applied in a wide variety of settings.

An online search of wellness in St Petersburg, FL brings up over a million hits with services ranging from OB-GYN, chiropractic, acupuncture, gym membership, counseling and mindfulness to laser scar therapy and cellulite reduction. What could such a wide array of services have in common? Practitioners often use the word “wellness” to mean something other than “this is where you go only when you feel sick” or “we will treat you only as if you are sick”. The wellness movement emerged as a reaction to modern medicine, beginning when Descartes philosophized about the separation of mind and body.  While there have been countless advances in medicine as a result of this paradigm shift, many have begun to feel frustrated and fed-up with being seen solely as a broken arm, ailing spleen or a diagnosis with a list of symptoms to be met. We are eager to be treated as whole beings with histories and hopes.  Health is more than not being sick! It is to live and be well.

Other words you might see side-by-side wellness are “holistic” and “balance”.

Holistic refers to the consideration of the many parts that make-up a person: mental, physical, spiritual, social, occupational and environmental. And, what about “balance”? Balance is not an achieved state. It is ever-shifting. It can be likened to snowboarding or surfing. You don’t find one position atop the board and stay there. With every variation in the terrain, you need to alter your balance by flexing a hamstring or lowering a shoulder. This can become second nature, but often only after much practice. The learning process is usually full of falls, bruises, and the need for instruction.

According to the Wisconsin-based National Wellness Institute, human health is an “active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence”. It is a view that health is the result of personal initiative and ongoing development that emphasizes the entire being across multiple dimensions. This often includes attending to: our physical bodies through healthy diet and exercise, our social spheres by maintaining balanced relationships, mental and emotional clarity by speaking with a trained counselor or coach, and a spiritual practice through participation in that which we highly value.

* If you liked this article, you might like our upcoming retreats.

Dayna-Wood-Blog-Post

Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where through the power of brain science she shows stressed out professionals how to reignite their creativity and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives. Take a complimentary wellness quiz to learn the areas of your life that could use the most attention and receive free brain-based tools to reach your personal health and wellness goal!