T The Art of Living an Integrated, Creative Life. Being caught in the business of life, often we don’t have the energy and desire to be creative. Even the most successful often face feeling disconnected from what is essential in their lives. Luckily, there’s a scientifically-based method that makes it possible to embrace a fresh perspective, to recharge one’s life and feel satisfied again.
That’s why I was thrilled to meet Dayna Wood and Jennifer Carey. Both Dayna and Jennifer are Licensed Mental Health Counselors and hold a Masters of Education and Education Specialist degrees. Dayna is a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist, Founder of integrativecounsel.org and Jennifer is a certified Reiki Master Practitioner. They bring these skills together, and combine creativity and mindfulness, to offer corporate consulting and coaching, counseling and retreats. Meet Dayna and Jennifer!
Jen: We believe our secret is the combination of our personalities and skills. For example, we share many parallels in our healing approaches. We’re both client-centered, Jungian-influenced therapists, but also have differences that really come together well in our work.
Dayna has this ability to be grounded and focused in a way that I (Jennifer) admire. While Dayna appreciates my ability to see the big picture and connect with people. Together we mix these attributes and it works really well. Dayna comes up with creative ways to pullout hidden qualities many don’t know they have, and helps them blossom. The mindfulness techniques she teaches can assist in this process, and can help bring awareness, compassion and the opportunity to create a grounded mindset based in the present moment. This can act as a powerful tool in overcoming obstacles to one’s own creativity and gifts.
Dayna: It’s important that we first define what we mean by integration. Essentially, we help people realize there are many facets to whom they are, and explore how to utilize all aspects. We aren’t just focusing on one area; we work with it all: the mind, body, emotions and spirit. Our relationship with ourselves and others, music, art, expression and nutritious foods. There is a unique power in that!
We start first by creating a safe place (sort of a community) to help spark imagination and connection, and feed growth. Once the imagination is flowing and one feels connected, we then work on replacing the old thinking which caused the obstacle, with new thinking to help them break through and flourish. Our techniques are based on research proven to be effective.
Dayna: We have a limited definition of creativity and almost everyone has a scar from their youth of what it means to be creative. We’re taught to fulfill checkboxes on a resume in order to succeed. This is outdated. Many are stuck in one way of thinking and they’re missing out on the power of being fully engaged in living. Not everyone is a Picasso, but everyone is born creative.
Jen: I feel like we’re becoming isolated. We’re spending more time on phones and computers, rather than with people. Facebook gives only one glimpse of someone’s life. Part of our mission is to help people fully connect with each other and their inner selves. Our culture isn’t making time for that, so Dayna and I provide the opportunity for those experiences.
Pause and breathe
It sounds deceptively simple, but it works. Inspiration cannot be consciously reproduced. Effort, or to aspire to, grasp, struggle, or crave something are all attributes of the left-brain. They must give way to stillness to receive what is unsought by the right side of the brain. By taking 3 – 5 deep breaths, we begin to oxygenate the PFC (prefrontal cortex portion of the brain) so we can think more clearly.
Embody your body
The right hemisphere of our brain is directly connected to our body. Our body is how we engage with the world. Do a body scan. We often get caught up in our heads that we forget our bodies. In 30 seconds, check in with each part, going from your head to your toes. Is there an area that feels achy, tight or numb? Give it a little love by pausing to rub or flex it as tightly as you can, for 5 seconds, and then release. Feel the sensation of blood flow!
Insights (aha moments) occur when we relax our focus and become receptive to seeing the whole – the big picture. This is akin to a lens zooming out to take in the entire panorama. We spend most of your workday staring at a screen. Take a minute to “step back” and notice everything. Get out of your seat and look out the window. If you don’t have a window, find an image of nature and put it on your wall or desktop. Research has found that even looking at an image of nature can reduce stress. * Tip: To remind ourselves to actually do this, set an alarm on your phone or computer.
The right brain attends to and comprehends the living. Even better than looking out a window is going outside. You’ll notice when you come back, you’ll be more refreshed and productive. Nature can do that!
All humans are creative. Creativity is hardwired into our brains. Certainty, a left-brain attribute, is the greatest of all illusions (hubris). It is NOT the possession of the truth, but rather the pursuit. To be an amateur used to mean to love an activity (amare in Latin means to love). Now, amateur is seen as a derogatory term. However, creativity and change require a willingness to be seen as naïve. Abandoning certainty gives you the ability to lighten up and laugh at yourself. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” ~ Brené Brown
The act of breathing and taking a moment to connect with breath, is one of the most powerful tools for me. I even have a mindfulness app on my phone that chimes every hour, to remind me to stop, connect with my breath, with what I’m feeling and thinking, or simply with nature and other surroundings in that moment. Our breath connects us to the present moment, and there is an openness and flow, as well as a wellspring of creativity, when we can simply be present.
My favorite is “zooming out.” One of my strengths is focusing on the task at hand. I, therefore, need to consciously remind myself to pause and look at the larger vista.
Our office is surrounded by art from Creative Clay, a local non-profit organization in St. Pete, which provides educational, expressive and vocational opportunities in the arts for people with obstacles. They serve people with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities, as well as people in healthcare settings, and children and veterans. They provide outreach art experiences in our community. Having their art on our walls is a way of supporting their incredible mission and the meaningful things they do. It is a beautiful story made visible.
We have a four-day retreat in October, on Anna Maria Island, Florida. It’s what we call an Imagination Retreat. It will help attendees dive into their own creativity and imagination with just the right combination of activity, personal exploration, rest, pampering and beach time. And, Anna Maria Island is beautiful and breathtaking, so what better place to do it?
We are also booking corporate retreats to help inspire focus, innovation, employee satisfaction and fulfillment in the workplace. It lets them dig deep inside and discover things about themselves they never knew they were capable of. When an employee is creative, feels empowered and happy, he or she produces at a higher level and are loyal to the company. Therefore, it’s beneficial to the individual, while being a major asset for the company as a whole.