Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shaving Cream, Paint, and Happiness

To celebrate spring in the Art Therapy Studio, we did some Happiness Paintings. First we said what we were happy about and then squirted shaving cream on our papers to celebrate. Next we sprayed paint to create Happiness Paintings. Happy Spring everyone!  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Are You an Extrovert or an Introvert?

I am five and I am an extravert.

If you are an extravert you are outgoing and become energized in groups. You usually want to share your experiences and ideas with others and you like to talk and have conversations with others. You think and make decisions by talking to others. You don’t seek out solitude or alone time and you need others to feel approval and acceptance. Feedback and sharing refuels your energy. Extroverts are impulsive, fun, and easily express their feelings. They want to have many friends and love group work.
If you are an introvert you usually prefer to watch and listen before you join into an activity with others. You enjoy doing things by yourself or with one or two other people. You find it draining to be around large groups of people and you don’t want to share your thoughts and feelings until you ponder them. You have a strong sense of personal space and you enjoy being alone in your own space. Unlike an extrovert, you may find it hard to share what you are feeling and you do not process well with others. Being social drains your energy and you need alone time to recharge. You like to reflect and think about problems and you need uninterrupted work time. You may not have as many friends as your extroverted friends, but the friendships you have are deep and long lasting. You are able to entertain yourself and you often become a master of the delayed minimal response. You like to work alone and need to find ways to lower the sensory overload that you often experience.
The world encourages us to be extroverts. The school system rewards extroverts who work well in groups, share and easily bond with others. Introverts often grow up feeling that there is something wrong with them and they quickly learn to become extroverts. There is an attitude that introversion needs to be cured not valued in our world. Our preference to enjoying the internal world (introverts) or external world (extroverts) is fixed and we can learn to act outside our preference, but we can’t be forced to leave it without feeling overwhelmed, lost and knocked off centre. Some of us fall in the middle ground of both, but regardless the world is a healthier place when both types are allowed to operate in their comfort zone.

How can introverts and extroverts get along?
When you see an introvert reading, sitting alone, don’t assume that they are lonely and want to be interrupted. Respect their space and ask if they are busy before interrupting them. Introverts need to learn that it is okay to say that they are in the middle of something and would rather not socialize. Introverts work out their ideas by thinking inside their heads and they often need to remind extroverts that they are not ignoring them, rather they are silently processing what they just heard. Extroverts are talkers. This is hard and draining for introverts. Introverts need to remember to get alone time after being with a talkative extrovert to recharge and not blame extroverts for their need to talk or take it personally. Both types need to remember that the other type is drained by what energizes them. The world is filled with introverts and extroverts and we need to be more understanding and accepting of each other.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Art Therapy and Colour

Focusing on a single colour can help create a sense of calmness and wellbeing. It helps centre and focus us when we reduce number and choices of textures, colours, and shapes that usually flood our world. Sitting and letting yourself sink deeply into a single colour can wake up your senses in an interesting and inspiring way. Try this Art Therapy Exercise for exploring a single colour.

Art Therapy Exercise and Colour Meditation

Gather some watercolour paper and a set of watercolours. Start by getting comfortable, feeling grounded in your chair and noticing your feet and legs. Take a minute to notice if your feet are tired, energized or relaxed. Are they cold or warm? Take some time to relax your feet and let them make contact with the floor. First push your heels then your toes into the floor. Notice the chair under your legs and buttocks and adjust yourself to get even more comfortable in your chair. Take a deep breath into your stomach. As you pause here, staying with your stomach, notice if you sense a colour. Bring awareness to your back. What are you noticing here? Is your back tense or feeling relaxed? Now move to your chest. Can you breathe freely? Is your chest open or closed? Now move your awareness to your hands and arms. Notice if there is any tension and gently release it. Take time to sense into your hands, stretching the fingers. Do your hands feel different or similar? Bring awareness to your neck and head. Release any tension in your jaw and neck area.

Now gently turn inward, sensing into your inner throat, chest and then resting in the belly area. As you stay Present and aware of yourself sitting in the chair, give yourself a gentle invitation to focus on a colour. Take some time to notice where in your body you sense this colour the strongest, and sit with it for a few minutes. By bringing a quality of gentleness and acceptance to that part of you, you can hear from its point of view, what it has to tell you. You might write down or draw its response. Now while staying in presence, take your watercolours and paint on your paper the colour that you sense in your body. You may want to start with making circular movements on the paper or any shapes or lines that feel right. Stay body centered as you continue to move your hand on the paper. 

When you feel finished, you may want do a journaling exercise. Sit with the one colour and remember three objects that you may own or have seen that had this colour in them. Paint or write these objects. Now write or express in images the feelings that you experience with this colour. When you are ready to bring this exercise to a close, simply return to the colour that you have been meditating with and use it to create a closing circle on your paper.


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