Category Archives: Creativity

Meditation in Motion

by Veronica Daub

It was difficult to watch the smiling faces of my friends spinning in and out of view, their limbs contorting and stretching in ways that resembled circus ballerinas. A plastic circle—a hula hoop; well, I thought those died out with elementary recess. But between laughter and silent moments of concentration, it was clear to see their minds were snagged on something deeper. I could see the spark resulting from accepting a challenge flare across their face; a look of accomplishment upon the landing, or the seamless retrieval of their plastic dance partner as it tried to roll away. Their facial expressions danced with the rest of their bodies, and with all the focus in the limbs, naturally the control over the face slackened—their blatant joy was genuine and not forced. As they twirled within their circles, I could tell I was invisible to them, sitting on the lawn while mindlessly tearing grass from the ground. I looked on with fascination; I couldn’t stay on the sidelines for long. Finally: “Hey, teach me something.”

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Three years later, my hoop and I have been through much reflection. People have called me “high-strung,” and I’ll admit I’ve always grown annoyed when attempting meditation. Sitting still doesn’t work for me—perhaps I need practice, but the combination of stilling my mind while allowing my body to convey the thoughts that flutter through my head has proven to be much more than useful. The hoop offers something much similar to meditation while including the action of my entire body. Whether it’s a distraction from any hurt or hardship that falls into my lap and wraps itself round my brain, a vehicle to release tension or stress from work or relationships, or a tool that magnifies a celebration—my hoop aligns me.

My hoop has become an extension of my limbs, and of course, it did not begin that way. Just like picking up a guitar for the first time, your fingers don’t know what to do, they’re awkward on the strings and it feels as though they’ll never feel at home on the neck of the instrument. The same is with the simple circle—it’s a foreign object that, just like a new friend, you need to grow familiar and comfortable with. When I first began, I would play for ten minutes before growing frustrated and tossing it aside. However, I always tell newcomers (because I try to spread the love of the circle further and further) the more you learn, the longer you’ll practice, because the more fun it will be. And then fun gives way to tools that benefit your headspace; within the circle is a place of comfort, a way to blur away and ease the frustrations of day to day life.

Plus, just wow, is it a great workout.

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There are many different ways to experience your hoop. On the wings of my favorite playlist, I drive myself into a dizzy stupor as my body tries to keep up with the tricks my mind tries to convey to my limbs, and I stumble around while panting through a huge grin that’s typical of a fiery session. But other times, my features are like still water, and my movements are slow and calculated. It’s during these times that the music is off, along with most of my senses. From the hoop to my fingertips, up my arm and to my shoulder blade, there is a direct connection to the stresses of my head which melt away as I let myself play with a toy like a child again. It’s necessary to embrace the child within us all, and the hoop has taught me to let the qualms of my life roll by like the hoop over my chest—contemplation rather than dwelling, and letting go rather than clenching on for dear life.

 

The Creative Mind (Part 2)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

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Many people have learned to use their creative thoughts and behavior to resolve any frustration or unhappiness that comes their way.  They use their creativity to overcome their sadness and depression, anxiety, anger, and to deal with important people in their lives that matter to them.  There are also those who use their creativity to resolve conflict with others in ways that may only slightly ease their unhappiness and frustration but cause other problems in doing so.  We see these behaviors manifested in such ways that are being called, Obsessive Compulsive, relying and becoming addicted to drugs/alcohol, anxiety attacks, mood swings (Bipolar), and other behaviors that seem unusual or “crazy” to anyone who witnesses these behaviors.   Others don’t often see what another person is facing with their frustration and unhappiness.  Nor do they understand that the person’s odd or unusual behavior is serving the purpose of easing that frustration and unhappiness, even if it is only slightly, and created as a result of their “Creativity.”  You can hammer a nail with just about any other hard object if you don’t have a hammer.  Using something other than a hammer is a person’s creativity to get a desired result.  Unusual behaviors are creative behaviors utilized by those who haven’t created a more effective tool to ease their frustration.

Our creative abilities allow for our general happiness.  Some create effectively and others create maladaptive behaviors because it’s all they created at the time.  Our creativity can get us out of many unhappy situations without the need for counseling or therapy or prescription drugs.   Those who have created ineffective behaviors to resolve their unhappiness are diagnosed and judged as someone needing psychiatric help in the form of “brain meds.”  These types of medications inhibit a person’s natural ability to be creative and to be able to create ways to resolve their unhappiness.

When you have weird or strange dreams at night or even dreams that make sense . . . that is your brain being creative.  So if you have dreams that don’t make any sense, does that mean you’re mentally ill?  If your brain is capable of creating when you are asleep, it is also capable of creating when you are awake.

CREATIVITY . . . it’s behind most of our choices of behavior . . . logical and illogical.

The Creative Mind (Part One)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

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Creativity can be found in all of us.  Many people consider creativity to be limited to the ability to make something materialistic, or to express one’s self in art, cooking, inventing, writing, or music.  While these things certainly require creativity, creativity is not limited to talent in those areas alone.   Everyone uses creativity each and every day of their lives for many different things.  We rely on creativity based upon the knowledge that we already possess about specific things, logic, and willingness to go beyond our knowledge.  We use creativity to make decisions that are primarily designed to result in happiness or pleasure.  We use creativity to solve or resolve problems in business, discussions/arguments, and in our relationships.

All we do, each and every day of our life is behave.  We choose our behaviors to satisfy our needs of survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.  When any of these needs are not being met to our desired level of satisfaction, it is human nature to rely on our creativity to satisfy and maintain those unmet needs.

If you have ever watched Naked and Afraid on cable TV, then you have watched individuals using their creative skills to satisfy their survival needs.  In relationships, we tend to put our best food forward when we first meet someone.  Behaving in a manner to cause another person to hopefully be drawn to you in a relationship relies on creativity for love and belonging needs.  Musicians, Artists, Chefs, Writers, Dancers, Educators, Athletes, and Inventors rely on creativity to be appreciated, helpful, competitive, to win, and to be respected as a result of their creative abilities.  These are ways of satisfying power needs.  Investing wisely for the future, making decisions and planning ways to free one’s self from confinement or from poor relationships relies on creativity.  Planning events, vacations, learning, and recreating requires creativity to make these things happen.

Have you ever been in an argument with someone and you just couldn’t come up with the things you wanted to say at the time in order to make a point?  That’s a silly question.  We’ve all done this.  Later, after the discussion or argument is over and both have gone separate ways, you continue to use your creativity thinking about it and suddenly you come up with whatever it is that you wish you had said or done during the discussion.   “I should have said . . . . “or “I should have done . . . .”  That’s creativity.

Here’s an exercise to utilize your creativity:  You wake in the morning and notice that it’s raining and you have a flat tire.  This is surely a frustrating situation.  So what will you do?  Some would say, “I’d change the tire by jacking it up and putting the spare on.”  But what would you do if you had loaned the jack to your neighbor several months ago and he never returned it?  “I’d go next door and get it back.” But he left for work an hour ago and no one else is at home.  “I’d call a friend to come get me to take me to work.”  S/he’s already gone and at their place of work.  “I’d call a cab to take me to work.”  These are examples of creativity.   Some may not use their creative skills very much and say, “I’d go back to bed.”  There are even more examples to this scenario that I could add but you get the idea.  Creativity is being used to overcome a frustrating situation.  With each creative endeavor that fails, another creative method is created until one of them eventually satisfies the frustration and need.

Reflection: Take the Second Step: Use Your Brighter Lights

By Debbie Crinzi         

For a driver, bright lights are helpful to illuminate the road so it stands out clearly on dark nights. Road debris can be avoided.  You can see details much better with your brights. Use these lights when you don’t have a clear map for where you are going and when you sense anxiety rising. You also need them when feelings plummet and your body is tired—when emotions cloud your mind.

In the last blog we talked about turning the bright lights on. This involved relaxing your body and calming your mind. The truth is that our mind becomes our worst enemy. When problems arise, the mind creates a lot of chaos trying to out-think the problem. In order to hear even ourselves, we have to quiet the mind all the stories we are creating that increase anxiety and despair. We turn our lights on by relaxing our facial muscles, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. We concentrate on our breath – breathing in and out — until only the breathing in and out occupies our brain. When sneaky thoughts filter back, set them aside and go back to focused breath. After you are able to concentrate on your breath despite stray thoughts distracting you, it is time for the next step. Now bring into your thoughts something beautiful and meaningful.

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Step Two involves switching lights into brighter lights by reminding yourself that you have much to appreciate and be thankful for. Your worries are just one piece of a whole life. Take your calmed mind and focus on something beautiful or peaceful. For some people it is the image of the object of religious worship; for others, it will be a close person or a pet who is special to them; for yet others, perhaps a place such as a personal garden, the ocean or the mountains – a place representing joy and beauty. For someone else it will be saying an inspirational chant, prayer, song, or poem.

Which is it for you? Take some time right now. Choose something that makes you happy. Relive the experience in your mind, dwelling upon the things that make you smile. Acknowledge these positive memories. Surround yourself with them. Again, you are in charge of your mind. If sneaky, anxious thoughts creep in, consciously set them aside and go back to these joyful memories.

Until you take charge of your thoughts, it is difficult to think rationally without strong emotion tearing you down. You need this time of calming, then of rejoicing, before you are ready to listen to yourself reflect and work out issues and concerns. So take the time. Remember, controlling your mind instead of allowing it to control you is a habit that only occurs through practice. You don’t need to wait for crises to rain down upon you to practice. Take a moment each day to relax yourself, focus your mind on breath, and then fill your mind with happy experiences.

World Peace through Laughter

By Denise Daub

Today, May 1st is World Laughter Day.

Laughter Day was first celebrated on January 11, 1988 in Mubai, India and was founded by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga now practiced worldwide.

laughterLaughter has proven to be instrumental in lowering blood pressure and stress levels, not to mention it just makes you feel good … and happy!  Interestingly, the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter.  This is where Laughter Yoga comes in.

We all know that emotions stimulate physical expressions… when you are happy you smile, but it can also go the other way.  Studies have shown that physical expressions can stimulate emotions. So fake it till you make it will actually work when it comes to laughter.

Laughter is contagious, has the power to bring people together and creates happiness.  It  strengthens your immune system, boosts your energy and triggers healthy physical changes in the body and…. it is totally free!

Laughter helps to create a positive mental state to deal with negative situations and negative people. It gives hope and optimism to cope with difficult times. – http://www.laughteryoga.org

Improve your mental health and happiness and take some time to laugh 🙂

 

New Pictures and New Developments

by Mona Dunkin

We think in pictures or symbols. If we don’t get the picture we don’t get the concept.

If I mention a car, your mind sees a car of some sort, even if it’s fuzzy. The longer we explore that subject, the clearer your mind-picture comes into focus.  More than likely, your own car would be your familiar point of reference or perhaps your dream car.

Unknowingly, we associate new stuff with familiar stuff. We also, unknowingly, self-assess whether to like, dislike or simply store it in our vast mind/body warehouse as additional information. For later recall.

Everything is created twice; first in the mind and then in reality. Your computer runs by an operating system and so does the mind. If you don’t like a TV program, you don’t even try to change the screen. Why not? The TV operating system is pre-programmed to bring in that program on that frequency.

Here is where reality sets in.  You cannot change what you do not have control over. You do not have control over the programming slated for that channel but you do have control over changing the channel. To change the picture on the TV screen you change the channel to another frequency.

Change is an Inside Job. Truth be told, we have limited ability to change anything outside our immediate scope. Goodness! It’s hard enough to change something within our self (i.e. attitudes, habits, prejudices).  When we work on self we have something we can work with. When working on someone or something outside our selves – especially without forethought and training – we may be jousting at windmills. Don Quixote’s selective vision of the real world contributed to his unhappy relationships and the fall from the rotor blade certainly curtailed his health.

Will Power = WALL. Even if you are using every ounce of will power that you can muster to change personal habits, attitudes or – alas – other people, it doesn’t compute. Why? Because the old operating system still has chocolate cake as the focal point.  You fall off the wagon and don’t understand why.

Adjust your mind-pictures and grow into them. This simple step promotes self from employee to Management.  From lackey to Taking Charge of Your Life™. And that is power. It’s real power because it’s empowering.  Once the light comes on, it is like a rogue grass seed pushing up through concrete to grow, blossom and bloom. That seed idea that seemed so impossible takes root and produces amazing results.

Yeah But!  I hear you; it’s the I-agree-but-I-don’t-agree-or-I-don’t-think-I-can.  Okay, here’s how:

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Stop whatever thought processes you have going through your head and – just for a minute – experience a different sort of reality. Get out of your head nonsense into a beautiful place. Through loving imagination, tune your TV-mind to your Discovery Channel. Tune in to pictures of adventures that you would love doing or being or creating. Whet an internal mental appetite for those things. Act on those new aptitudes and the old picture begins to fade as you become the new you.  You become energized by what you act like and feel like and look like and what life tastes like as you grow into the person living your dream.

What you think is what you become.  Picture it.

Creative Endeavors

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

 

Are you a creative person?

If you answered no to that question, what is your evidence? Do you point to the lack of artwork you have produced, or claim there is no original song or lyric that you composed? Perhaps you have never designed a building or the interior of any space, including the interior space of a book.

All of this may be true, and yet there is no doubt that you are a creative person.

For instance, what have you done today? What else do you plan to accomplish this week? Is anyone else on the planet going to experience their day exactly the same way you are? This is all of your own making based on  your moment to moment decisions, accomplishments, and creations.

The problem for many of us when considering the question of being or not being a creative person is the limited definition we give to the idea of creativity. Please take a moment and realize that not only are we creative, we are incredibly creative. Our creation starts with how we begin our day and continues with each choice we make. These choices include what we will wear, to what we eat, to what we say. All of these choices are from our own design and creation.

Even if you wear a uniform, not everyone in your school, hospital, military troop, or company looks exactly the same even if everyone is following the dress code. Originality, uniqueness and creativity is at the root of these differences even when they are subtle.

singingWhat has creativity got to do with Mental Health & Happiness? Some claim that spending time in creative endeavors is what feeds our souls. Glaser’s need for fun can be understood as our genetic instruction for play, creativity and expression of our originality. Mark Twain defined fun as the thing that you do when you don’t have to do it.

What ever you call it, which ever definition you abide by, spending time in creative endeavors significantly improves and maintains our good Mental Health & Happiness.

And yet there are some of you reading this who believe that you just aren’t creative. Let me invite you to approach this from a different angle.

Do you have any hobbies? Let me list a few and see if you can find something that resonates:

Gardening                                                                   Playing a musical instrument

Dancing                                                                       Doodling or noodling

Writing                                                                         Building

Sewing                                                                        Furniture arranging (and for some re-                                                                                                              arranging, and more rearranging)

Cooking                                                                       Knitting

Wood working                                                            Calligraphy

Story telling                                                                 Repeating movie dialogues

Amateur theater, including costume design, set design, etc

Table-scaping                                                             Pet training

Pet grooming                                                              Home staging

Get the idea? Any time you participate in any of these, including your own hobbies you are engaging with your creative endeavors. Your creativity does not need to be publicly acclaimed or acknowledge. Creative endeavors are all about the personal, internal joy, happiness and satisfaction you experience while participating.

Want to improve your Mental Health & Happiness? Start noticing and acknowledging all the ways you are a creative person. You are an absolute original, inventing, re-inventing, creating and re-creating yourself every day. Talk about creative endeavors . . . !

Coping Skills

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

We all have those overwhelming experiences and stressful times in our lives when it feels as though everything is falling apart. The upset can be a failing grade on an important exam in our high school class, or hearing the news that our family pet has died, or being laid off from our job and only source of income, or the pain and heartache that comes with a love break-up. Let’s not forget that many are now struggling because of environmental and whether challenges. These include floods, flash floods, out of control forest fires, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes.

What do you do when faced with these kinds of things in your life? Do you have coping strategies and self-soothing comfort skills? Have you developed and practiced these skills? Or are you like many people who aren’t quite sure what you do until faced with the emotional upheaval of life?

I have recently begun working as a nurse in a psychiatric emergency room of a regular hospital. Most of the people I see are in the worst moments of their lives facing terrible circumstances. This is the time when coping skills are really needed. Too often however, people tell me they have very few or no coping strategies.

When I asked one fellow, who was terribly upset and distraught, what he did to help himself he told me he asked his girlfriend to hug and hold him. If she wasn’t available he told me he then took drugs, whether they were prescription drugs or street drugs. He was in search of something that would help him numb the pain he was experiencing. These were the only two strategies he had. Amazingly he never considered seeking some kind of solution or help to solve his problems. Even this emergency room visit had been initiated by the police and not his idea.

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For improved Mental Health & Happiness start now developing, learning and practicing your coping skills. This is best done not when you are faced with the crisis or upset, but when life is mostly in balance and you feel calm and in control. Chances are good that you already have a few of these self-soothing strategies. Perhaps you just haven’t considered these to be part of your coping repertoire.

For instance, do you close your eyes, take a deep breath and count to 10? Or maybe you call a dear and trusted friend just to hear his voice knowing he will offer wise words of counsel. Some people get regular massages and when needed get an emergency massage. Others take a bath, or meditate, or take a nap, or go for a long or short walk in nature. Still others go directly to the ice cream shop, local bakery or fried chicken joint to eat their comfort foods because that is what is needed — some comfort.

A crisis is not the time for judgment about what is the healthiest choice. Now is the time to evaluate only based on the ability of your strategy to give you the kind of immediate comfort, relief and help you need.  Once the crisis is resolved you can decide whether or not to cultivate healthier and more effective coping strategies. It is always appropriate however, to evaluate whether or not your coping strategy is putting you in greater danger like my patient who was hospitalized for perilous drug consumption.

Start today. Follow these three simple steps:

  1. Identify your present coping strategies
  2. Evaluate how healthy and effective they are
  3. Start cultivating and practicing more strategies to add to your  repertoire. To get more ideas you can always ask friends and family  members what they do to help them cope when under stress.

Dealing with a crisis involves more than relying on good and effective coping strategies to help keep you calm. Understanding the step-by-step of handing the crisis you face is also essential. This will be discussed in a future blog.

For now, improve your Mental Health & Happiness today by cultivating, practicing and improving  your present coping strategies.

Finding Your Passion

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. — Joseph Campbell

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. —  Harriet Tubman

Ever read these kinds of quotes before? Does it help you feel inspired, fired up and ready to go out into the world and take your next step to conquer your fears and realize your daydream2dream? Or do you feel annoyed and irritated instead? Do you wonder what your dreams and passions are? How are you supposed to follow your bliss when you don’t even know what that is?

Here are a couple of stories that just might help improve your Mental Health & Happiness as you consider or reconsider your bliss, passion and dreams.

Once upon a time I started a college program where I was able to create my own course of study. I knew I needed the program to be interdisciplinary. And I knew some of the academic disciplines I was already interested in. But what else?

Following the direction of a well seasoned college professor, I gathered together all of my purchased books as well as borrowed books and articles (from the library and friends). I discovered something amazing! There, right before my eyes, were two very clear categories of subjects I had been studying on my own, driven by my own interest and curiosity: women’s studies and religion. I had unearthed some of my hidden curiosities, passions, and desires!

Once upon a time in another person’s life, my friend went on a great European summer adventure with his old and reliable camera in hand. His great adventure was filled with learning, fun and picture taking. He could hardly wait to return to the states in early September to develop all of the wonderful pictures he had taken of all of the beautiful women he saw in each new country and city.

Imagine his surprise when upon developing all of his many photographs he saw building, after ruin, after architectural angle and  points of interest. He was completely surprised by his own inner knower that led him to his life’s work. He is now a successful architectural photographer!

Want to start following your own bliss and passion? If you already know your driving dream then get going or keep going.

 There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. — Nelson Mandela

And if you are one of the many people whose passion, bliss and dreams are a mystery to you, then start your detective work now. Gather your books, pictures, articles, saved quotes, mementos, souvenirs, collections and any other clues you can about who you are, what you care about, what lights you on fire and sets your heart soaring. With these discoveries you too can start creating the life that is all you are capable of living. And your Mental Health & Happiness will hold steady at a bliss-filled level.                                              

Colors

By Dr. Nancy Buck,

This is my favorite time of the year! Finally the world is waking up and is full of the complete spectrum of colors, not just the black, white, brown and grays of winter.

Now the grass is turning green, the tulips are popping into bloom, the red bud emerges, sweet daffodils declare themselves yellow, and white, purple, and lavender hyacinths burst forth in color and fragrance.

canstockphoto0374035What is your favorite color? Do you have one color dominating your closet or wardrobe? Is this the color you’ve been told looks best on you or one that you really love?

What colors do you live with in your home? Was this your choice or one made by someone else? Are you happy with the choice?

Have you ever noticed your mood changing because of the colors that surround you? After I painted and wallpapered by babies’nursery yellow I learned that yellow brings out crying and whining in babies! Luckily this seemed to only be a notion declared in a magazine article and not one shared by my children.

Why not take a moment today and consider how color affects your Mental Health & Happiness. I know I’m a woman who craves, loves and is affected by color. When Im surrounded by too many neutrals of navy, beige or gray, I grow tired, flat and less happy.

How about you?