Seven Ways Wayfinding: How we’re claiming rest and rejuvenation this season

December can be a whirlwind of shopping, gift-giving, reunions, and food. These are all joys in many ways, especially when we share our time with dear loved ones. But this year, we at MAGIS HQ reminded each other to give ourselves the gift of self-care too. Here are some of the ways – our Christmas Wayfinding – we’ve resolved to do that, at least for the next twenty days.

1.   Do something for yourself every day

Christmas is a giving season – don’t forget to give to yourself, too.  Our Dance and Movement Therapist Joey encourages you to do something for yourself every day this holiday season!  One of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is the gift of time.  In the hustle and bustle of the next few days, take time to be yourself, remember yourself.  Return to your body and rediscover how vital your presence is in this world.

2.   Organize your space

The space you have to yourself plays an important part in stewarding your time to breathe, relax, and reflect on the year that’s passed.  Clear out the clutter.  Place a picture on the wall that inspires you.  Paint the room!  Whatever it is, our Administration Superwoman Imee says good space will help with a good start to the new year.

3.   Inhale the essential

Did you know that our sense of smell sends signals straight to our amygdala, the seat of our emotions? This means it by-passes the fog that can bring us into analysis paralysis or stress in the form of mental clutter. For our Managing Director Kathy, who is also a management consultant and leadership coach, clarity and inner calm are important.  For all this, she’s realized that finding time for the mind and soul to rest in each other is essential.  This holiday season, essential oils will help her carve that time and space for herself.  She recommends Lemon as an energy booster, and Sandalwood for staying in the present.

4.   Be with the early birds

Day in day out, our Management Team deals with timelines for projects, concerns, people; they take care of our business direction.  For Miah, making the effort to wake up early for quiet time with the birds is helping her keep up with everyday matters.  Starting the day this way can help ground you and set you up to take on a full day powering through a to-do list.  This season, she’s accompanied by a meditation app we all love: Headspace.

5.   Savor the treats of the season

Christmas gatherings are full of food! Overeating can make us sluggish and tired. Bambi, one of our Program Developers, is committing to a mindfulness practice in eating, so that the digestive system doesn’t take up too much energy that could keep her from staying present and fully experiencing the joy and love from gatherings with family and friends this season.

6.   Open your heart to magic

The story of Christmas is one of a great, miraculous love – and if we rush past the season, we might miss the magic this story brings. For our Director, Gina, the work she does brings her heart in many different directions – and to return to herself, she’s committing to keep her heart open through the solitude of good rest, writing, and painting. What opens up your heart?

7.   Write a gratitude list – and make it as long as you possibly can

This season is often also one of reflection, whether it’s over a glass of wine or cup of tsokolate, or in the solitude of your own room or a sacred space you find yourself in. Being a writer and a crafter, Communications Officer Adi appreciates how list-making can help tendencies of being hyper-organized and organic find middle ground. Gratitude also has a positive impact on our outlook and behaviour: check out this video from The Tremendousness Collective to learn more about the research on the impact of gratitude on our lives.

We hope these help you keep a mindful disposition this season. When we give ourselves time and presence, we can give others our time and presence, too.

Seeing Social Work in the Philippines through a Psychosocial Lens: MAGIS at NASWEI book launch

We commemorated Human Rights Day this year with the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (Philippines), at their book launch of The Human Costs of the Philippine War on Drugs: a collection of case studies that poignantly capture the landscape in which social workers all over the country currently focus on.

We were in the company of professionals who have dedicated their careers and lives to the incredible and unique calling of Social Work. This professional field is all too familiar with contexts with profound needs for human dignity: conflict zones, disaster areas, national borders, and communities of poverty. To have a heart in these margins and knots in society is both a tall order and a natural inclination of the human spirit. As keynote speaker Evelyn Balais-Serrano said, “we have common humanity.”

As the field of Social Work goes through a paradigm shift from dealing with welfare, to involving themselves with the all-encompassing and currently controversial landscape of human rights, we are also significantly moved by the need for further deepening of resilience and strength in body, mind, and spirit.

We sincerely thank everyone we met yesterday and for the stories that were shared. We look forward to sharing in the journey of, and helping how these brave helping professionals help themselves and help each other.


Photos:
1: Keynote Speaker Evelyn Balais-Serrano
2: NASWEI VP – NCR and Executive Director, Dr. Elsa H. Ruiz; with MAGIS Managing Director Kathy V. Ponce
3: NASWEI President, Dr Melba L. Manapol; and VP – Visayas, Ms. Rose Sequitin with MAGIS representatives Kathy (Managing Director), Miah Tanchoco (Assistant Director for Program Management), Adi Santos (Communications Officer)

A Morning with Asian Hospital and Medical Center: Fit for Good

 

AHMC-FitforGood

Join us Saturday, November 18 as we share the therapeutic experience of dance and movement through a short talk and workshop with Dance Therapist Joey Atayde. Fit for Good is an initiative of the Asian Brain Institute for raising awareness about living well over the age of 50. The morning will cover a range of topics including physical and mental health and fitness, and an introduction to the Institute’s brain wellness program in context of dementia.


About the Speaker

Joey is a Registered Dance/movement Therapist with the American Dance Therapy Association.  She finished her graduate studies in Dance/Movement Therapy at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.  She has worked with children and adults with mental illness, using movement as a form of psychotherapy and using this to integrate the body, the mind and the spirit.

7 Groups and Projects Changing the Conversation on Mental Health in the Philippines

The last decade has changed the conversation about mental health in a significant way. Here are just a few of the amazing activities happening around the country this week, and local organizations working on helping the country address mental health.

MHACTNow is the official campaign for the Philippines’ first ever Mental Health Act. The petition gathered more than 20,000 signatures, and together with the campaign, it was enough for the government to take action and spark nationwide discourse about its importance. The Bill was approved by the Senate on May 2, 2017, and is currently going through amendments for its final reading. Hopefully, this month of Mental Health Awareness will be topped off with the fantastic news of the Bill’s approval in the House of Representatives.

The Youth for Mental Health Coalition is a 1-year-old organization that has taken leaps in a short span of time. Their strong social media presence that has given Filipino youth a platform to be heard and acknowledged in context of mental health issues, and the Coalition has representatives all over the country.  They are holding the National Youth Congress on Mental Health this September 14, 2017. Check out their lineup of activities for this week as published on Facebook, as well.

MentalHealthPH is an online advocacy that, this week for Mental Health Awareness Week in the Philippines, is taking to universities to be part of talks, forums, and other events. They publish story submissions that capture a poignant snapshot of living with mental health issues, which you can find here.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Philippines is a professional community that provides psychosocial interventions to victims/survivors of disasters, crises, and emergencies in the Philippines. One of the head trainers and Program Director for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support at the National Center for Mental Health, Ms Thelma Singson Barrera, has activated thousands of psychosocial care providers all over the country through capacity-building in psychosocial support, and been involved with key first-response teams in some of the country’s most devastating disasters. We had a chat with her recently for Mental Health Awareness Week.

“I feel and believe that the awareness on Mental Health has improved in the past years,” she said. “More mental health programs have been established and are successfully in place… and as a post-disaster response, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support is now being recognized as important to be provided to survivors of disaster.” In her career of more than 27 years, Ms Thelma, who began as a hospital-based Mental Health and Psychiatric Nurse before moving into the fieldwork and training she does today, has encountered also the kind of response that stigmatizes the matter: “… if people know you work in a mental hospital, they will give a silly laugh and ask: ‘Don’t you get the disorder too for taking care of the mentally sick patients?’”

As seen in the conversation that transpired after Joey De Leon’s comment about depression and the consequent apology, how we as a society deal with battling stigma is crucial to support and advance mental health initiatives. Responding to lack of awareness with a sincere intention to share and help educate can bring out the lessons in difficult situations.

Self-expression can be a powerful partner for mental wellbeing – it is at the core of what we do at MAGIS as well.  It is not a surprise that there are also wonderful groups and projects that use the arts to have conversations and build an empathic community around mental health: Silakbo PH, Tala: Mental Wellness, Stellar Stranger.

Today, World Mental Health Day, we recognize and salute all the initiatives that have helped to achieve where we are right now with Mental Health. Mental Health can be a sensitive topic. It takes courage to continue the conversation in brave and empathic response to the need of understanding, awareness, and acceptance… and even more so to start it.

 


 

Featured image: A mindful prayer activity with MAGIS Creative Spaces, The Learning Child School, and Cartwheel Foundation in THRiVETrauma-informed Healing and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments; a teacher-training program conducted by MAGIS Founder and Director Gina Alfonso.

Thank you to Ms. Thelma Singson Barrera, from the National Center for Mental Health and long-time friend of MAGIS, for speaking with us this week.

Are you part of or do you know of more organizations making a difference for Mental Health in the Philippines? Let us know in the comments or contact us.

Kick off August with Super Science Saturdays

We’re super excited for these first two Saturdays of August! Find out about the world on a microscopic level, and create paths for electricity to power a lightbulb!

Contact Erika at 0917 842 4247 to reserve your slot today, or head over to register online via the Eventbrite Page.

August 5: Microscope Discovery Lab 
Go skin-deep and know what your skin cells look like or see a leaf the way ants and other insects would!

August 12: Circuit Making Lab 
Why do the lights in a house turn on when you flip a switch? How does a remote-controlled car move? Demystify electricity by getting your little engineer busy with some of our awesome hands-on projects.

WORKSHOP FEES
Per session: P750 per parent-child pair
Both sessions: P1400 per parent-child pair
Extra parent/child: P300
Each session includes the facilitator + materials + snacks.
You’ll go home with worksheets from the first lab and circuit cards from the second.

 

on now

 

Thriving Creatively: the promise of art for healing

Last month, we launched our first run of THRiVE – a psychosocial training program in expressive arts-based approaches to healing and learning in the classroom.  This program is an opportunity for us to create and hold the space for educators to rediscover and be themselves through the ageless method of and tools for expression: art and creativity.

Training educators as people

We started the 4-day intensive standing in a circle, feet hip-width apart, arms stretched out and palms open on either side of us. This moment taught me the power of a standing being. I looked around at our circle. We had come together as 33 educators, coordinators, managers, community builders; but in that moment we were 33 people who were right where they needed to be, 33 stories to be told. The gravity of this collective presence was enough to build us up, a mountain beneath our feet.

To give these individuals space in this way was very important for lead facilitator and MAGIS Director Gina Alfonso. “Each of us has the right to be here. Each of us has a place in this circle and a reason for being here now.” she said.  With so many different journeys that led to the one moment, it was crucial to establish a sense of safety and belonging at the very beginning.   At THRiVE, educators learn to improve the way they work by improving their sense of self, first.

Trauma-informed practice

MAGIS developed THRiVE – Trauma-informed Healing and Resilience-building in Vulnerable Environments – with trauma in mind. Considering it in the broadest sense of the word, the activities over the 4-day intensive addressed both shared community and personal trauma, toxic stress, and the need for resilience. Through arts-based activities, the psychology of play, and individual and communal mindfulness practice, the group learned how to improve their professional work not only by being informed by the science behind the practice of the arts for psychosocial interventions in the classroom, but also by the experience of taking care of themselves first – the same way they take such thoughtful care of the students and colleagues they work with.

One participant described the experience as a realization of the blessings despite issues and everyday challenges. Through activities designed with self-awareness and mindfulness, there was also an element of healing. “I am able to say that I am healed and free from the heavy feelings I was carrying because of my own perception, thinking, and doing,” she said.

Mind the brain

The storytelling, self-awareness, and self-care practice doesn’t end with arts-based activities. From our year-old partnership with Mindworks self-awareness for us as their technology provides a detailed portrait of our brains: brain maps.  Mindworks uses EEG technology to depict brainwave activity, which can accurately show the current state of brain, and which neurotherapists analyze to inform customized programs for improving brain function and mental agility. The brain maps alone, along with interviews about them, provide a wealth of insight into the impact of personal history on how we think, our natural inclinations, and areas we can improve. This greatly helped participants of THRiVE to understand their strengths, their needs, and how they can better work together in their chosen professions.  Most importantly, knowing their needs helped them create their own plans for a self-care practice.

Creative souls

Bambi, one of the co-facilitators of THRiVE and Assistant Director for Community Relations, said the experience for her brought her to deeper appreciation of the arts as a vehicle of self-discovery and healing. Kathy, our Managing Director and a participant of the program, described it as life-changing.  Working behind the scenes, I was moved by the creative fluidity in the program’s facilitation: it was alive, responding to emergent needs of the participants.

Whichever side of experience, we all witnessed people heal, learn, and thrive through the arts. Visual art was a self-made, embodied mirror that someone may have been introduced to for the first time. “I didn’t even know I could do this,” one participant said in surprise. The a-ha moments were resounding by the end of the program. Movement and music gave life new rhythm, whether shared or individual.  Even the thoughtful selection of symbols was a creative experience in itself, giving new meaning to everyday objects around us.

We are deeply grateful for the vibrant participation of the inspiring educators of both The Learning Child School and Cartwheel Foundation, Inc.‘s partner Indigenous communities. We have learned as much, if not more, from each of you.

We also thank our friends at Cartwheel who co-facilitated this program with us.


Were you part of this program? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

To learn more about THRiVE, or to express interest in organizing it for a group, contact us.