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Poetry Writing with Clients

Writing a poem for the first time can be intimidating, but there are many possible ways to get started. In this post I’ll talk about just one of them, which is a list poem.
Defining a Poem
The first step when introducing poetry to clients is to define poetry. Show what a poem looks like on a page. Explain that a poem is usually short, and that each line has a fixed length. It uses carefully-chosen language to express a feeling, and sometimes uses rhythm, rhyme, or repetition.
Writing a List Poem

A list poem is a poem in which each line begins the same way. List poems are wonderful for beginning writers especially, because the start of each line is provided, creating a comfortable way in (at least I have this part that I can write, and know I’m spelling it correctly). A list poem can be simple and powerful. One client, who struggles with depression, wrote a poem in which each line begins, “I love” followed by one thing that makes her feel happy.
5 Tips for Writing a Successful List Poem:
Read poems together as a group, to get clients familiar with the sounds and rhythms of it. After reading a poem, ask if there is any line that clients like or find interesting. Ask why they like it, what makes it stand out. Keep your ear open for things clients say—does something sound like a list poem? “Every morning I…” “I want to read…” “If I had a million dollars I’d…” “I love the way…” The possibilities are endless.
When clients are ready to begin writing, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Be specific
Help clients bring their poems to life by including specific details. In other words, show, don’t tell. “I wake up early,” becomes, “I wake up at 3:00 am every morning to go to work.” Instead of “I cook Chinese food” help the client write, “I cook catfish with spicy sauce.”
2. Five senses
Can you see this poem? Can you hear it? Smell it? Feel it? Taste it? Is this poem bringing a world to life? If not, think about describing with the five senses.
3. Order
Pay attention to the order of the list. Does it have a beginning? A middle? An end? Does it need an additional line to bring it to a close?
4. Word Choice
Think about word choice. Could another word be more effective? Sometimes beginning writers want to use the word “beautiful,” but write “nice” instead because it is easier to spell. Help the writer actualize the poem in her mind.
5. Edit
Don’t be afraid to edit. ‘Make it Messy’ is a good mantra for first drafts. They should have crossed out parts and additions. Are any items in the list extraneous? Are there unnecessary repetitions? Help students build the confidence to edit themselves.

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Is an Optimistic Mind Associated with a Healthy Heart?

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” — World Health Organization (1946) Many poets, philosophers, and thinkers throughout history have recognized the intimate link between physical and mental health. The ancient Roman poet Juvenal once declared “A healthy  mind in a healthy body”.

However, until relatively recently, most psychological research has focused on the link between psychological difficulties (e.g., anxiety, depression) and physical health. But things are changing. Over the past few decades, a growing number of studies demonstrate that merely alleviating anxiety and stress don’t necessarily lead to better life outcomes. Positive characteristics, such as optimism, vitality, meaning, and subjective life satisfaction are immensely important in their own right. The related fields of positive psychology and health psychology focus on rigorous scientific investigations of how people adapt to life’s inevitable challenges, and how that is related (or even leads to) a better quality of life. This process of resilience across life is the idea of thriving, successful aging, or flourishing.
See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/is_an_optimistic_mind_associated_with_a_healthy_heart

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creative thinking

When the task at hand requires some imagination, taking a walk may lead to more creative thinking than sitting, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking,” said Marily Oppezzo, PhD, of Santa Clara University. “With this study, we finally may be taking a step or two toward discovering why.”

While at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, Oppezzo and colleague Daniel L. Schwartz, PhD, conducted studies involving 176 people, mostly college students. They found that those who walked instead of sitting or being pushed in a wheelchair consistently gave more creative responses on tests commonly used to measure creative thinking, such as thinking of alternate uses for common objects and coming up with original analogies to capture complex ideas. When asked to solve problems with a single answer, however, the walkers fell slightly behind those who responded while sitting, according to the study published in APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

While previous research has shown that regular aerobic exercise may protect cognitive abilities, these researchers examined whether simply walking could temporarily improve some types of thinking, such as free-flowing thought compared to focused concentration. “Asking someone to take a 30-minute run to improve creativity at work would be an unpopular prescription for many people,” Schwartz said. “We wanted to see if a simple walk might lead to more free-flowing thoughts and more creativity.”

Of the students tested for creativity while walking, 100 percent came up with more creative ideas in one experiment, while 95 percent, 88 percent and 81 percent of the walker groups in the other experiments had more creative responses compared with when they were sitting. If a response was unique among all responses from the group, it was considered novel. Researchers also gauged a participant’s total number of responses and whether a response was feasible and appropriate to the constraints of the task. For example, “Putting lighter fluid in soup is novel, but it is not very appropriate,” Oppezzo said.

In one experiment with 48 participants, each student sat alone in a small room at a desk facing a blank wall. When a researcher named an object, the student came up with alternative ways to use the object. For example, for the word “button,” a person might say “as a doorknob on a dollhouse.” The students heard two sets of three words and had four minutes per set to come up with as many responses as possible. To see how walking might affect more restricted thinking, the researchers also had the students complete a word association task with 15 three-word groups, such as “cottage-Swiss-cake,” for which the correct answer is “cheese.” Participants repeated both tasks with different sets of words first while sitting and then while walking at a comfortable pace on a treadmill facing a blank wall in the same room.

With a different group of 48 students, some sat for two different sets of the tests, some walked during two sets of the test and some walked and then sat for the tests. “This confirmed that the effect of walking during the second test set was not due to practice,” Oppezzo said. “Participants came up with fewer novel ideas when they sat for the second test set after walking during the first. However, they did perform better than the participants who sat for both sets of tests, so there was a residual effect of walking on creativity when people sat down afterward. Walking before a meeting that requires innovation may still be nearly as useful as walking during the meeting.”

Students who walked in another experiment doubled their number of novel responses compared with when they were sitting. The 40 students in this experiment were divided into three groups: One sat for two sets of tests but moved to separate rooms for each set; another sat and then walked on a treadmill; and one group walked outdoors along a predetermined path.f-202.jpg

To see if walking was the source of creative inspiration rather than being outdoors, another experiment with 40 participants compared responses of students walking outside or inside on a treadmill with the responses of students being pushed in a wheelchair outside and sitting inside. Again, the students who walked, whether indoors or outside, came up with more creative responses than those either sitting inside or being pushed in a wheelchair outdoors. “While being outdoors has many cognitive benefits, walking appears to have a very specific benefit of improving creativity,” said Oppezzo.

More research will be necessary to explain how walking improves creativity, the authors said. They speculated that future studies would likely determine a complex pathway that extends from the physical act of walking to physiological changes to the cognitive control of imagination. “Incorporating physical activity into our lives is not only beneficial for our hearts but our brains as well. This research suggests an easy and productive way to weave it into certain work activities,” Oppezzo said.

Marily Oppezzo, Daniel L. Schwartz. Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 2014; DOI:

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heart

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. Mahatma Gandhi 

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Creativity

Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous. Bill Moyers

 

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Self-control and Success

Most of us believe that a certain amount of self-control is crucial for success. In order to succeed in the modern world, you need expertise in some area. Gaining that expertise requires work and practice. The discipline to work or practice at something means that you have to give up things that might be fun right now in order to engage in actions that will be rewarding in the future.
Research by Walter Mischel, Yuichi Shoda, and their colleagues supports this link.
They looked at the relationship between the delay of gratification task developed by Walter Mischel in the 1960s and later performance.
See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/self_control_and_success
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