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


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Feeling stressed out about homework 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 July 23-24. This workshop will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 23 and from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 24.

Allysa Peyton, student engagement manager, said mindfulness and meditation were themes the museum had explored in recent years. The museum aims to do three UF student workshops per academic year. The museum connects wellness and creativity in everyday spaces throughout this workshop, she said.

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

The museum connects the art of the Harn Museum to students and gives them time to slow down and reflect, Peyton said. In addition, this workshop will also provide students with new skills related to visual analysis.

Due to the privacy required to facilitate a workshop, there is a limit of 25 slots for UF students. Peyton expects the workshop to fill up quickly. Registration is available on the Harn 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 raising mental health awareness in everyday spaces.

One of Handmade Dream’s initiatives is called the Artistic Wellness Exchange, Witherspoon said. Students will use art from the museum’s collection to explore various topics. Students will be presented with a work of art in the museum and explore the connection between the work and self-care, coping, empathy and healing.

“The past two years haven’t been the norm for a lot of us,” Witherspoon said. “We missed a lot of celebrations and face-to-face time.”

Witherspoon said attendees will practice empathy. Empathy is especially important in student life, as it’s essential for building friendships and building relationships with classmates throughout college, she said.

After this session, the students will be guided in artistic creation activities where they will learn Chinese ink brush painting and calligraphy. Students will express their creativity through painting and writing.

The second day of this workshop will focus on mindfulness and meditation. UF Mindfulness Director Sabrine Grunwald and Associate Director Kim Holton will lead students in mindful movement and meditation practices. These practices will allow 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 Certified Meditation, Yoga and Energy Healing Teacher. Adams is the owner of the Heart and Mind Healing Center.

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

Mindfulness is a special type of meditation that focuses on stabilizing the body by removing it from heightened awareness and stress response, Adams said.

Numerous scientific studies have shown how meditation and mindfulness positively impact the brain, Adams said. Mental health awareness, mindfulness and meditation are now much more common practices, she said.

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

Mindfulness is a very important part of student life that is underrepresented, Adams said. Strict deadlines and assignments can cause students to become stressed and anxious. She said students can begin meditation by lingering in their practice with self-guided meditations.

The positive effects of mindfulness and meditation practice can be increased self-awareness, increased creativity, and increased patience and tolerance, Adams said.

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

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