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Harn Museum offering two-day wellness and creativity workshop for UF students

BY GABRIELLA WITKOWICH

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Finding yourself stressed over assignments and school? Make peace of mind a priority. 

The Harn Museum of Art is offering a free two-day wellness and creativity workshop for University of Florida students on July 23 and 24. This workshop will last from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 23, and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 24.

Student Engagement Manager Allysa Peyton said mindfulness and meditation have been themes the museum has been exploring in recent years. The museum aims to do three UF student workshops per academic year. The museum is connecting wellness and creativity in everyday spaces throughout this workshop, she said. 

Creativity is useful in all students’ academic endeavors, but also in holistic good health and well-being, Peyton said. The health and well-being of students at UF is essential to their success, she said. 

The museum is connecting the art of the Harn museum to students and offering them time to slow down and reflect, Peyton said. In addition, this workshop will also offer students new skills related to visual analysis. 

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Due to the intimacy needed to host a workshop, there is a limit of 25 slots for UF students. Peyton expects the workshop to fill quickly. Registration is available through the Harn’s website.

The first day of the workshop will include an empathy and emotional intelligence session with a licensed physiotherapist. 

Ashley Witherspoon is the founder and CEO of Handmade Dreams, a mental health platform. She is a guest speaker and plans to focus on mental health awareness in everyday spaces.

One of Handmade Dream’s initiatives is called the art wellness exchange, Witherspoon said. Students will use art in the museum’s collection to explore various topics. Students will be presented with a piece of art at the museum and explore how the piece relates to self-care, coping, empathy, and healing.

“The past couple years has not been the norm for many of us,” Witherspoon said. “We’ve missed a lot of celebrations and face-to-face time.”

Witherspoon said participants will practice empathy. Empathy is especially important in student life because it is essential for creating friendships and relating to classmates throughout college, she said.

After this session students will be led in art-making activities where they will learn Chinese ink brush painting and calligraphy. Students will be expressing their creativity through painting and writing. 

The second day of this workshop will focus on mindfulness and meditation. The UF mindfulness director, Sabrine Grunwald, and associate director Kim Holton will lead students in mindful movement and meditation practices. These practices will enable students to practice meditation in the future, Peyton said. 

Grunwald and Holton could not be reached for comment.

Caitlyn Adams is a 32-year-old licensed meditation, yoga, and energy healing teacher. Adams is the owner of Heart and Mind healing center.

“There are so many different types of meditation,” Adams said. “I encourage everyone to try different styles ’til they find what works for them.”

Mindfulness is a particular type of meditation that focuses on settling the body by taking it out of heightened awareness and stress response, Adams said.

There have been a lot of scientific studies that show how meditation and mindfulness positively impact the brain, Adams said. Mental health awareness, mindfulness, and meditation are much more common practices now, she said.

Adams has been teaching full-time for five years. When she started, she would have to explain everything that she teaches to people; now people are coming in with a baseline knowledge about meditation and mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a really important element of student life that is underrepresented, Adams said. Strict deadlines and assignments can lead students to become stressed out and anxious. She said that students can start meditation by easing into their practice with self-guided meditations. 

Positive effects of being mindful and practicing meditation can be increased self-awareness, increased creativity, and increased patience and tolerance, Adams said.

“Mindfulness and meditation are for everyone, and anyone can practice it every day,” she said.

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