Blog : Wellness

Integration & Flamenco

Integration & Flamenco

The written history of flamenco only goes back about 200 years, but there are oral accounts of flamenco that are much older. There is much debate about “what is true flamenco.” My aim is not even to attempt to answer that question, which is a very slippery slope indeed. Rather,

I would like to share with you what the spirit of flamenco means to me and why it helps explain the concept of integration.

Flamenco originated as an art form in Andalusia (southern part of Spain) as an expression of the cast-aside, the Gypsies (Gitanos), Sephardic Jews and outcast Moors. It began as song (cante) – more like a call or cry – and percussive rhythm, often a wooden cane beating in time on the floor. Only later, were the guitar and dance incorporated. Flamenco is ever-evolving and still finds itself making headlines. (Click here to read a recent example of the fluid and contrasting nature of flamenco and how it is being used as political statement.)

Flamenco is many divergent things…

and one, admittedly, includes polka dots, large skirts and dancing for tourists for money. For me, however, flamenco means not only living with, but celebrating, dichotomies. It is recognition and incorporation of many different parts, the crux of “integration.” Integrating is about bringing multiple pieces together in some sort of unified fashion – even if that “something” is in flux.

Flamenco is – no joke – about the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It kicks my butt regularly, yet I am still dedicated to being a student of its many mysteries. I know it will take a lifetime and beyond to learn, and I’ve become okay with that. I’m forced not only to think about, feel, and hear the complex rhythm (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12…) all the while moving my feet, legs, hips, arms, hands and head – optimally with duende (this is an entire other article, but roughly translated means “authenticity/spirit”). Flamenco is fiery and fierce, yet also has moments of surrender and true softness. I love that it makes fun of itself. It is first and foremost music, then movement. I come up against my many resistances while learning it. To name just a few of these inner obstacles: the “analyst” that keeps a safe distance from things that might feel uncomfortably true,  the perfectionist who has a hard time letting go, the timid part that would rather stand back than take center stage, the part that is quick to judge and the one who wants to quit. But, I don’t. I keep coming back for what sometimes feels like torture. It is a genuine type of therapy for me.

I practice facing these parts, learning from them and inviting them all in.

And then there are those moments when it all comes together – left and right, light and dark, absolute freedom from thought, feeling and time, a complete surrender of my body to the invitation of the music.  I’m dancing – not just the right steps, but I’ve become a part of this continual flow of the art form of Flamenco. These moments are rare and come with numbers of hours of dedication, but they happen. This is integration for me.

* 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!

 

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.

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!

 

 

Pause & Reflect

Pause & Reflect

Some of you may know that I was in the hospital in late May due to complications with Shingles. I thought it was a pesky bug bite, but when it started to spread down my face, scalp and eye I knew something was wrong. I went to the ER hoping they could help relieve the pain, itching and swelling and send me on my way – all the while thinking I was going to be back at work the next day. I was very wrong. It was four days later that I was released and though feeling bruised and tried, very grateful for my health. Why did a relatively young and in good health person get Shingles? Stress they told me. This is from a person that talks about the benefits of balance each day. And, yes it had been a stressful period, but I thought I was taking time for ever-so-important self-care. While in the hospital bed I had bit of time to reflect.

What I realized is the self-care I practice each week is all very busy –

swimming, yoga and dance. Rarely, if ever, did I stop to simply pause and reflect. Even before bed, I try to get caught-up on my professional reading. So, I am learning the importance of stopping.

Even in the cycle of creativity (Paul E. Plsek)

in the second phase, imagination, there is a period of “time in”. It’s a moment of spacious emptiness and it is crucial to inspiration. ‘Time in’, coined by Professor Tal-Ben Shahar who is a leading researcher of Positive Psychology, means allowing ourselves not to know. It means a time of silent reflection. It’s a time when we allow the mind to be a blank page. It is being, rather than doing. This is my lesson and goal – to remember to pause.

* 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!