Mission of Creative Wellness Services

Creative Wellness Services provides unique, creative and experiential wellness programs for individuals and groups, such as your work place environment. Services are facilitated to include the use of art, creativity and self-reflection to promote enhanced teamwork and individual wellness.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

When There is Dark Then There is Also Light - One Cannot Exist Without the Other

Did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its Being.
We all remain


I can imagine, like most people, you might be experiencing a mixture of emotions, such as fear and uncertainty during this global pandemic with Covid-19.  It is a time in our lives where many of us, if not all of us, are having to rethink the way we do things.  It is not business or life as usual, instead we are all having to develop new routines and different lifestyles.  Many people are working from home now, some are trying to figure out how to manage with reduced hours, or potential losses and changes.    These feelings you might be experiencing as a result from these fast-paced changes are real, and with some mindful practices, gentleness and compassion, these feelings you are experiencing can be honoured.

Perhaps in this current situation and with the feelings we are experiencing, we can find ways to transform them from fear, worry, anxiety, and misfortune into hope and opportunities.

Many of us are practicing physical distancing, or what the media is calling it social distancing, at this time, as am I.  I have fully transitioned to online counselling and/or some phone support, where appropriate. The online platform I am using is both PHIPA and PIPEDA compliant and fully encrypted.  Clients have told me these past several weeks that they have found online counselling to be as effective, as in person counselling, where I am able to be fully attuned to you and I am able to offer the bi-lateral processing required for EMDR, the mindfulness practices and exploration of the parts of you that are being activated.  Many clients shared how pleasantly surprised they were at the end of their online sessions, at how well it went and how easy it was to transition to this new normal.  With a simple encrypted link that you are provided you are able to join me for an online session, there is nothing for you to download.  

In the meantime, stay safe and be well, practice physical distancing and maintain social connection by reaching out to others, ask for assistance and use all the resources you have worked hard to establish to maintain a mindset of calm and peace.  Fear and stress contribute to the breakdown of our immune systems, so more than ever using the de-stressing techniques is important.

Look for the light in the darkness.  Be the light, it is inside of you.  Focus on what you can control, and the only thing we can control is our own responses and the environment of our own inner mindset.  Be generous, kind and patient with each other and know that the way through this is together.

I am here for you, you are not alone.  

Here are some resources that help with the triggered feelings of fear and anxiety to help calm the internal system so you can see a pathway forward more clearly:

Peter Levine’s Voo Sound:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7zAseaIyFA&t=2s

Artwork by Supria Karmakar "Uplifting Our Hearts", Encaustic Mixed Media 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Self-Compassion can Unite us all

“We are not the survival of the fittest, we are the survival of the nurtured.”
~ Louis Cozolino
Even more than ever we need to magnify the nurturing of all things in order to heal, and a key to this is to begin with yourself. To practice self-compassion can bring about a deep nurturing for the world and all species living on the planet. Specifically, practicing the three steps of self-compassion that Dr. Kristin Neff speaks about, mindfulness, seeing the common humanity and sending kindness can bring a softening to the pain and suffering being experienced in your life, as well as, providing an opening and a connection to others in their suffering. This may seem counterintuitive or it might even go against what you might have been taught. Often, I hear from those I work with, that to care for oneself, to practice self-compassion, is to be ‘selfish’, or is thought of as being self-centred or even more ostracizing, to be narcissistic. Who wants to be labelled selfish, self-centred or narcissistic? I would venture to say that these labels keep us segregated from our true healing and from each other. 
Self-compassion can unite us. Now, practicing self-compassion doesn’t mean striving and having yet another thing we put on ourselves as we “should” do, or I “shouldn’t feel this way", or “I deserve to do this or have this ”or “ others have it worse than me”, Dr. Kristin Neff speaks of this as diluting self-compassion, it doesn’t work with these conditions. Instead true self-compassion involves a need to directly recognize that something is hurting right now. Saying to yourself something like, “I am suffering, and this hurts”, “this belongs right now”. The practice of RAIN, helps with this connection to oneself for healing. First, Recognize that this is suffering; Allow it to be there, not to judge it or fix it, bravely let it be there; Investigate the suffering, being curious about it, not in a thinking way, but in an embodied way, how does your body feel with this suffering, and ask yourself, what does your being need right now to be Nurtured? Tara Brach speaks to this practice in her new book Radical Compassion and shares that after RAIN practice there is a blossoming of space in ourselves and for others. 
For those who have trauma and/or childhood adverse experiences, (and this is more widely prevalent than we might think), the first step of self-compassion might mean to provide yourself with some kindness, some safety with mindfulness and then recognizing the common humanity in that experience. This may mean mindfully recognizing the need to say YES to your NO; this is different than shutting down the experience of suffering, instead be aware of your suffering, and mindfully with kindness placing some boundaries of safety for yourself in that moment. It is okay to be with your NO, this is kindness to oneself.
Self-Compassion notes and resources:

Friday, November 15, 2019

Oh Sweetheart - You are enough as you are - Not too much or too little....

Oh Sweetheart - these two simple beautiful words have the power to so soothe my heart.  This week during a peer networking meeting a colleague shared Jeff Foster's Poem - A Prayer for the Overwhelmed.   I had heard this poem once before at a silent meditation retreat, and the revisiting of this poem was so timely.  My heart burst with gratitude to hear it again.

What a lovely way to greet oneself  - hearts open wide with these two simple loving words.

On days like this, grey gloomy ones, I notice how extra hard it is to move, to motivate my body, my parts of my self, to get outside and do the one step at a time dance....So I am reminded to lean into these feelings, to be with them, greet them with these two simple words...."oh sweetheart"....There is no other way I have to be, there is no need to push through, to be 'strong' or no need to pretend.   Instead I can choose to be just what I am right now....As I notice leaning into the grey of the day, I feel a softening.  This is what it means to be with all the good, bad and the ugly....The part of me that can get melancholy on days like this needs comfort and cozy, an acceptance to be slow and mindful...I don't need permission to do this, I need acceptance of self to do that, to listen deeply to what my blue part is saying and to allow her to just be as she needs to be.  And this shall pass as quickly as it arose...

Here is Jeff Foster's Poem:  A Prayer for the Overwhelmed

Oh, sweetheart.
Life is overwhelming for you at times, l know.
Don't listen to the ones who call you over-sensitive or too weak for this world.
Your sensitivity is exquisitely beautiful!
But you must learn to stay close to yourself.
You must learn to breathe.
To invite curious attention deep into your body.
Allow yourself to feel overwhelmed,
and you won't be overwhelmed, I promise.
It's just a feeling.
A precious part of you longing for love.
It will pass when it's ready.
Let it stay awhile.
Don't pretend to be strong, the one who has it all 'figured out'.
There will be time for answers soon enough.
Now, simply give 'the overwhelmed one' safe passage in your heart.
Drench the feeling of overwhelm with gentle attention; bathe it in overwhelming love.
It's okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes, it really is.
Even the strongest feel overwhelmed, for their strength lies in their vulnerability.
Your sensitive nervous system is perfect, and l love you for it. 
And it's all okay, here.
It's really okay, here in the arms
of the present moment.
- Jeff Foster 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Eco-Anxiety also known as Solastalgia - Do you have distress caused by climate change?

 Worldwide there is an increase in humans experiencing mental health distress about the corresponding science that reports on the climate crisis and emergency. This mental health condition has been termed as ‘eco-anxiety’ or ‘Solastalgia’ (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18027145)

Recently, the Global Climate Strike Week of Action events saw millions of people taking the streets protesting and demanding government action now for change, before we reach the point of no return. These protests were spurred on by Greta Thunberg’s strike almost a year ago. Her solo strike was a way for her to do something about her emotional and mental health distress about the future and feelings of being betrayed by the inaction of governing forces not caring and corporate greed. See https://www.fridaysforfuture.org for more information on the movement she created. For the Global Climate Strike Action week, 1,000,000 people were Canadian; thus 1 out of every 6 strikers globally was Canadian, as well as we were 3rd globally for total # of strikes.
Getting involved in some way with your community helps with the mental health distress.
Other ways to help alleviate feelings of anxiety, depression regarding the demise of our home, the planet earth are:
· Talk about how you are feeling with others, friends, family, other activist groups, a therapist who understands this issue – this would help with the isolation, release some tension and stress
· Take action - join community groups, write letters to your local politicians, take part in local peaceful direct action, participate in art activism – this helps with feeling less stuck
· Switch Off Social Media – taking a break from all the alarming news, the data, statistics and science being shared about the climate change/emergency
· Look After Yourself – participate in self-care, meditation, create art, get back to nature, listen to music
· Participate in individual lifestyle changes – reduce or eliminate use of single use plastic, eat plant-based meals, reduce fossil usage, walk, bicycle, buy locally, practice minimalism, shop at second hand stores, reuse
Above all else know you aren’t alone with this feeling of eco-anxiety/Solastalgia.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Forming a Habit

Forming a Habit

Habits dictate our experiences in life and can embody our identity

Habits can be helpful or unhelpful.  How do we develop the ones that bring us closer towards our highest and most authentic self?    

I was recently inspired by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits and interview on the Rich Roll podcast, take a listen for the full details and inspiration

As humans we experience problems big and small, and when we do, we look for solutions to those issues.  These solutions can become behaviours; which when repeated enough times can become a habit; sometimes these habits might work for a while and sometimes they do not work over the long haul.  By the time we realize a habit is no longer serving us it might be hard to break and develop new ones to replace it; but it is not impossible.  The fantastic thing about our human brain is that we can change the way it fires and wires.    Creating and establishing new habits are the foundation for self-mastery, and can dictate new life experiences. 

Developing new habits and keeping them small and manageable helps with their success.  Additionally, treating ourselves, and our attempts to develop new habits with gentleness and non-judgment is key when we slip up; as we will slip up from time to time. James Clear shares his 4-laws for habit and behavioural change in his book and on this podcast, they include: 

1.    Making the new habit obvious  (the cue)
2.    Making the new habit attractive(the craving)
3.    Making the new habit easy (the response)
4.    Making the new habit satisfying (the reward)

Like wise breaking unhelpful habits and behaviours, the opposite factors apply:

1.    Make it invisible (the cue)
2.    Make it unattractive (the craving)
3.    Make it difficult (the response)
4.    Make it unsatisfying (the reward)

For example if you have a desire to drink more water in a day or week; to make it obvious could mean to have several bottles of water (the cue)available everywhere you spend time, a bottle in the car, office, home, by your desk and/or couch etc. Making it attractive (the craving) might be having it in bottles you feel good to drink from, i.e.: glass bottles.  Making it easy is similar to the first point making it readily available (the response) vs. having the other more unhealthy options such as juice or pop invisible. Finally making it satisfying could mean having the water tasty, infused with fresh fruit or vegetables such as cucumbers etc.  Satisfying also means being aware of the rewards, such as feeling more satiated, being more hydrated, having more energy, experiencing less achy joints, noticing better skin complexion and the flushing out of toxins from our bodies, and better stress management overall.  Enjoy setting a new habit today, focus on the starting line vs. the finishing line, and keep an eye on the path vs. the mountain peak.  Enjoying the vistas along the way. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Benefits of Laughter

Recently I decided I would take on some brave things in my life, face the places and aspects that make me uncomfortable. One of those things was to join an 8-week improv class at The Making Box, (https://www.themakingbox.ca) here in Guelph, we are 4-weeks in and I am both loving it and acutely aware of the angst I feel whenever I have to do something spontaneous, living from my heart vs. being in my head with a group of 15 other people.
   I have noticed that I tend to live in my head, it is my fall back; so I have begun to stretch those improv muscles, diving in and embracing going with the flow. What I have loved about this experience so far, is witnessing and experiencing the generosity of the group. A kindness towards each other is exchanged in all of our discomfort and the ability to laugh at our own quirkiness. Most of all I have loved laughing a lot.
   This got me thinking and noticing the benefits of laughing and crying, and generally the whole spectrum of human emotions we can experience.
   Emotions do not lie, and there is great value in paying attention to them. Too often we can fall into old limiting habits that we either learned growing up from our families, friends and from society overall. Such judgments as, “she is too emotional”, “you are too sensitive” or “boys don’t cry”; all of these sentiments seem illogical. Being emotional, or sensitive and/or to cry, no matter your gender, is to feel alive and something to celebrate. I believe it is the thoughts associated with these emotions that keep us stuck. Or the behaviours, the way in which we treat ourselves for having these emotions, the self-critical voice, which can rear its ugliness and keep us down and stuck.

   So the practice of loving kindness, both in tone and the actual words we choose to use, towards others and ourselves is so important to pay attention to.

   Try laughter as a remedy. You might find it helpful too. Here are some other links you might find beneficial in exploring how laughter can be thy medicine:
  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/articles/200504/laughter-the-best-medicine
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-athletes-way/201609/how-self-initiated-laughter-can-make-you-feel-better

Saturday, February 17, 2018

4-In Response a short film by Sandy McLennan

I have had the most fun with this current exhibit at the Elora Centre for the Arts (ECFTA), called Response (and Responding) a collaborative art exhibit with Beverley Hawksley, Carmen Hickson, Tanya Zaryski and myself, Supria Karmakar.

Our process started in November/December of 2016 when Shelley Carter, a board member of the Elora Centre for the Arts suggested my name to the curatorial team as a possible artist to show in the gallery.  I knew that I wanted to show with others - doing things as a group and in community is so much more meaningful.  Beverley Hawksley was suggested as a possible creative partner, whose work I had become very familiar with and loved deeply; and I have also always admired Carmen Hickson and Tanya Zaryski's work, and so we were formed.  I was delighted they said 'YES' to working together.

From there unfolded a series of emails and a few meetings, to discuss a possible theme for our collaborative.  While discussing our process and the meaning of our works, it became very apparent that there was a common theme and thread in the way we each worked.  We found that each one of us responds to our creative energies from within, and that this is a deep and sacred relationship with our creative muse; one in which we give ourselves over in complete trust and allowance. So that the works can be birthed organically and authentically in commune with our creative muse.    We decided that our exhibit was going to be about RESPONDING, to our calling to create, both to produce individual works but we also knew we wanted to create work with each other, to have the opportunity to respond to each other's work by working together.

So in October 2017 we all got together at the beautiful home and studio of Beverley Hawksley and Sandy McLennan in Huntsville, Ontario.  I remember the drive clearly, the beautiful fall colours were inspiring and I was filled with anticipation knowing we were going to work together in a creative unfolding for our group exhibit.  Each one of us brought a piece of art work from either its rawest form or in the beginning stages to share with one another, with our creative muses.  We did not know how the day was going to unfold.   That was the first step in trusting the calling of our creative muse.  It was a meeting of our creative muses as much as it was a day for us to work together.  We spent the day over food and connection discussing our works, ideas, what we were being called to create and discovered a beautiful unfolding.  Sandy McLennan took 4 hours + footage of our day together and created a beautiful short documentary called "4 in Response".  The short film is a wonderful piece of work and captures the magic of our process.  Thank you Sandy.  The art works are still being exhibited at the Elora Centre for the Arts until March 8th, 75 Melville St. Elora.    Very worth a drive to Elora for a visit.

Love to hear your comments and thoughts on this film and our process.  Thanks to everyone that came out the night of the showing.  For those that couldn't make it here is another opportunity to see the film:  https://vimeo.com/251804502