Y Now? Art & Healing Festival
(The Philippine Star) - May 12, 2019 - 12:00am

In one of the board meetings I just attended, the HR officer was reporting on the rising personnel issues of mental health, stress and burn-out. Especially for the young millennials. They love their jobs, but they are wired to work 24/7 for some accounts they are handling. This issue has been building up in the past decade with an intensity that has brought HR practitioners and corporate management to search for ways of handling employees. No surprise. It is actually the norm. What would surprise me would be to find companies that have good programs to help manage the work-life balance of their employees.

In a study conducted to analyze 500 locations worldwide, Manila ranked more stressful than war-torn Damascus in Syria. The research was based on pollution, traffic levels, public transport, percentage of green spaces, financial status of citizens including debt levels, and physical and mental health. The rise of depression and illnesses in the city continues to affect lives and we see so much spirits broken. A frightening fact is that the young are so vulnerable to suicides, reflecting a sense of hopelessness for a sustainable future. Disruption of the norm is what is being experienced in all walks of life and in fields of industries. Fears are forcing everyone to find new tools to cope with living.

Enter the opportunity for me to create an event at Yspace. This is a new event space at the ground floor of the cone-shaped Yuchengco Museum. When someone sent me a video of people doing yoga at the Metropolitan Museum of New York telling me that they were reminded of me (museum curator+yoga teacher-practitioner), I said “Ynot?”

And so here we are with an Art and Healing Festival coming up. Titled “Y Now? Art & Healing Festival (in a Time of Critical Disruption),” I thought it an interesting idea to bring discussion of contemporary spirituality and consciousness right next to the expressive arts of our culture. Art after all is healing. Art is therapy, and expression, and is a way to release emotions. But because I know so many people in the field of healing, I said again, “Ynot?” Let’s just bring them all together. So, from May 24 to June 23, the month-long festival will bring together a series of thematic activities within the complementing fields of art and healing. While the event team continues to plan it, I was thinking of how companies can be helped with certain programs should they wish to expand their employee engagement programs.

Therapy using the visual arts, theater movement, poetry, music and sound always enhances self-esteem and gives people back a sense of control because it takes the anxious mind off problems and stress. As a fantastic outlet for emotions, either actively doing art, listening and learning about it, or even appreciating beautiful images and objects creates healing in the psyche. Art healing is, in essence, self-help art therapy. In international museum spaces, there are formal art therapy sessions that are aligned with medical hospitals and other wellness initiatives just to combat the stressors of our present world and the issues of mental health.

So into my list of resource people came the in-demand art therapists Kara Escay, who focuses on children using multi-arts and storytelling while Karl Jingco uses theater as a form of release and expression for adults and special children. But we go a little further with this Y Now? Art & Healing Festival. We bring art appreciation closer to the context of addressing contemporary spirituality. For example, a talk by architect Manny Miñana is not just on architecture, but the tenets by which he strives to create peaceful sacred spaces. Photographer Denise Weldon’s photography and poetry session focuses on creativity coupled with deep meditative mindfulness. I will give talks that include art and spirituality, looking at comparative religions and belief systems of contemporary spirituality seen through the visual arts images. Likewise, our Filipino cultural icons reflect our unique Filipino spirituality which can give us a deeper appreciation of our cultural and national identity.

The workshops we have brought together address work-life balance, understanding the self, and understanding the many levels of energy and how to manage these. The “Happiness Doctor” Lia Bernardo speaks on Self Love and the Reason for Being. Master Del Pe is giving a number of talks from The Art of Moving from Success to Fulfillment, the Hidden Dangers of Meditation and Yoga, and Sexual Alchemy and Divine Intimacy, among other topics.

Environmentalists Karla Delgado and Amena Bal offer a new take at the interconnectedness of the earth and organic produce in Eat Your Colors. Healing circles also include alternative therapies with sound, movement, yoga and meditation led by Francesca Enriquez and Lee Grane specifically for the Cacao Ceremony: Spirit Songs and Soul Rhythms and Roots of Wisdom Healing Circle. I will also give talks that focus on transpersonal topics such as Enneagram and Astrology. My objective after 35 years of reading charts is to mentor younger people interested to read the soul message of the cosmos. Ayurveda will be introduced by Arogya, while Cathy Sanchez-Babao continues her specialized grief and healing workshops. Imee Contreras leads centering workshops and talks with mindfulness at the center.

Oracle days offer one-on-one sessions of readings and therapies led by psychic sensitive empaths Tina Lebron and healers from The Healing House, intuitive healer Moni Platt, and tarot card reader and life coach Nico Reyes. Either through traditional massage by Mount-Banahaw trained specialists under the The Hilot Hub, Indian pulse reading by Dr. Sonita Laddha, micro-current acupuncture for anti-aging by Luna Garcia, or other energy medicine modalities, these sessions bring balance back and let the energy flow.

Mainstream directions for such work-life balance, issues of mental illness, emotional imbalanced will often bring together psychiatrists, doctors and therapists. Y Now? Art and Healing Festival brings the alternative therapies into mainstream. The festival brings together a curated group of resource people and specialists in arts, culture, creative industries and the healing arts. Their special practice, expertise and gifts will add value to this festival to help many that are searching for direction, deeper meaning and connections in a time of critical changes happening on our society and planet today. 

Life is from the inside-out. So another way to support the balancing of our youth and millennials (actually any age group) is help them build a deeper resilience by knowing themselves deeper, offer them new perspectives, and give them new practices towards wholeness, which they can bring into their daily lives.

* * *

(Yspace is located at the ground floor of the Yuchengco Museum, RCBC Plaza, Buendia corner Ayala Avenues, Makati City. For more details on the calendar of events, e-mail yspace@yuchengcomuseum.org or visit bit.liy/2PmU2sx, @YspaceattheYuchengcoMuseum on  Instagram and Facebook or call Cassie at 889-1234.)

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