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Whitney Freya : How to Create a More Intentional Life

How to Create a More Intentional Life

With Just 30 Pieces of Paper

By Whitney Freya

ButterflyAre you living "intentionally" or by "accident"? This is the question at the root of the self-help industry, the science of Quantum Physics, and the current Spiritual Movement. This trifecta of human development is all coming to the same conclusion, that our world is what we make it. It is this essential element of the role of our creative minds, our ability to choose our thoughts AND create our realities, that has led to a new emphasis on neuroscience and human potential.

We now know that we can create new neural pathways within our minds by taking new action, choosing to focus on different thoughts, and opening up to ulterior outcomes. My passion, since 1996, has been to create this opportunity for my clients using the visual arts as the tool, the vehicle, for personal, transformational change. By learning to "make your mark" on the canvas or journal page you are accessing the physiological skills that anyone needs to turn life in a new direction.

In his book, Zen & the Art of Making a Living, Laurence G. Boldt quotes Nietzsche as saying, "Art is the proper task of life." Boldt writes that while most readers may not identify with the statement, that he will insist that unless one adopts an "Artist Mentality" they will not be able to CREATE the life they desire. He is not talking about painting on canvas, but the opportunity each of us have to take responsibility for the role we play in creating our lives; in other words, living intentionally rather than by accident.

It was these words by Boldt that inspired me to actually pursue the arts and the path to the "artist mentality." Without any formal art training, a business plan, or financial backing, I followed my intuition and opened The Creative Fitness Center in 1996. I started my own creative "laboratory" to research if art making would lead to a more intentional way of living. With simple art instruction and a supportive, inclusive environment, my clients painted, sculpted, and sketched their way to an entirely new way of living. Instead of resolving themselves to a life that was to be tolerated, dictated by routine and others' expectations, they started to create change, change in their daily schedule, change in their activity, that, step-by-step, led them to their new inspired life!

The art making was the catalyst for the change. The art making is what was bush-whacking new neural pathways within their minds because none of my clients were "artists," in the traditional sense. Are you still thinking, "I could never paint or draw"? This is exactly why the paint, markers and the blank page hold such potential.

Ellen Langer, Harvard psychology professor and author of the classic book Mindfulness, discovered much of the same thing in her research. Her discovery of the natural relationship between mindfulness and creativity led her to the artist canvas and to writing the book On Becoming An Artist. Ellen Langer discovered for herself the joy and psychological benefits of painting and now exhibits her work internationally. Like myself, without any formal training, but with a passion for expanding her own mental potential, Langer now encourages others to pick up the paint brush and create an intentional life.

From another angle, Dr. Herbert Benson, reported in his book The Breakout Principle, that his scientific research had proven that creative and meditative activity produce the same brainwaves. This mental state is what we need to create in order to experience what he calls a "breakout" experience. Whether the breakout is in the sports, business, or personal arena, the process is the same. The "left brain" skills and facts must be developed, but, then, one must diverge completely from the logical, left hemisphere to access what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow."

The first example in Dr. Benson's book, tells the process a highly successful business consultant in New York, hired to appoint the next CEO of a major corporation. After doing all of his "left brain research," the consultant goes back to his hotel room to needlepoint and wait for his "shazam" moment. The creative activity of needlepoint physiologically got "Mr. Consultant" out of his left brain, connected him to his subconscious and intuition, and produced the true answer to who the next CEO would be. The needlepoint was the portal to access complimentary thinking and to create a more mindful, as Langer would say, solution.

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Updated 1/14/14