To deal with stress and other mental illnesses today, the School of Design and Arts (SDA) - Arts and Culture Cluster (BACC) and Benilde’s Central Student Government (CSG) presented new wellness creative modalities by inviting a sound healer, physical therapist, and a coffee expert to “Get Wired! Wellness From Home'' last June 14 to 17. This program is a continuation of BACC’s initiative and response to the growing mental wellness advocacy and the approved Mental Health Law in the country.
Combating mental wellness deterioration with trends
Alongside Kaagapay student volunteers Mr. Anton Arevalo and Ms. Audrey Rosites, Benilde’s Well-Being Center (BWC) counselors Mr. Manuel Correa, RGC (Registered Guidance Counselor) and Ms. Melanie Lourdes Dionisio, RGC, RPsy (Registered Guidance Counselor and Registered Psychologist) opened the four-day event to discuss the positive coping skills that one can do and the negative responses that one can avoid.
In the roundtable discussion, they discussed coping strategies that came up during this pandemic like being a plantita or plantito and binge-watching favorite TV shows or series.
Serenading the tides of restlessness with music
Yoga and Meditation Teacher Ms. Tonette Asprer guided the audience through a calming meditation exercise, encouraging acceptance and focus, during the session titled, “Healing and meditation through the use of sound and music.”
“Sound and music allows us to just transition to different states of emotions… physical state, mental state [...] Just listen to your favorite tune,” Ms. Asprer said.
Among the steps for meditation she enumerated were to sit in the most comfortable position with a relaxed posture, close the eyes, place the hands on the lap, and lay the feet flat into the ground. The shoulders must be stacked directly above the hips with the head directly above the shoulders. As one inhales, roll one’s shoulders forwards up then back to exhale; then reverse.
“Breathe in your own rhythm and pace,” she reminds. More so, she said when minds wander during yoga, “our practice is to say thank you to our distractions, and come back to the breath.”
Connecting more to the audience, Ms. Asprer read James Van Praagh’s “The Soul’s Journey'' lesson cards that were chosen by some of the students. She explained the meaning behind each card, from happiness, judgment, and perseverance, among others.
“Mistakes are our gateway for transformation… It is the right conditioning for us to plant our seeds,” she explained for the “judgment” card.
Before the session ended, she introduced energy healing in a Reiki session, “a very gentle and effective way of using our Divine energies for healing and empowerment.” In this session, Ms. Asprer explained that a person lays its hands gently on different parts of the body for the various centers of the body to receive the natural energy flow; which initiates the natural healing process and restores mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Physical therapy as stress relief
During this COVID-19 pandemic, most people are now working or studying at home to lessen physical contact and keep themselves safe from the virus. It confines students and workers in front of their computer or desk for a long period of time, resulting in muscle stiffness and soreness.
With that, International Federation of Physical Therapists’ associate member and University of Santo Tomas’ (UST) College of Rehabilitation Sciences professor Ms. Zyra Mae V. Sicat, MOH, PTRP shared her expertise in “Let’s Talk About Stress Baby: Work from Home Ergonomics and Exercises,” a discussion on how ergonomics and exercises can be beneficial to people who are working in the four corners of their home.
Brewing inclusivity and serenity with coffee
Meanwhile, Philippine Coffee Guild Communications Officer Ms. Jo Alomazar started the session titled “Just one more sip: Coffee & coffee making to de-stress” with a brief history on the waves of the “revolution” of coffee.
Instant coffee and flavored coffee drinks thrived in the first and second wave, respectively. Unlike the second wave which introduced baristas, the third wave introduced the farmers. “It is about the beans more than the method of brewing,” Ms. Alomazar highlighted. People are now called to consider that the beans are “ethically and responsibly brewed.”
Coffee, according to her, provides a sense of structure, mindfulness, focused behavior, and sensorial practice. It's also a good conversation starter, out-of-work routine, and social activity.
During her breakout session for beginners, she discussed the dark side of instant coffee. Health-wise, she said that it has more sugar than coffee, and the beans are roasted “really really high” or “dark” to cover up green bean defects. Apart from this, she added that “it’s not ethically sourced,” where there is no assurance that the farmers are well-paid.
Using medium roasted beans, she demonstrated coffee-making which she said required a “good bean,” grinder, and paper filter. The light brown-colored coffee smoothly swirled around the pot after the demo.
“You don’t just drink the coffee to get the kick of caffeine [...] It’s what you want to journey within the cup… It’s the flavor,” she said.
In another breakout session for intermediates, Benildean Export Management alumnus and “The Curator” barista Mr. Karl “Kiko” Kristof Victor, shared the step-by-step process of brewing coffee. Almost over the spiraling process, he mentioned how pour-over coffee is “ever-changing” in which its execution involves trial and error yet “the whole process of it is relaxing.”
“The best cup of coffee is the coffee that you enjoy,” Ms. Alomazar stated.
After the session, Benilde Wellness Center counselor Ms. Ria Bayot shared, “During this pandemic, it’s important that we engage in wellness activities,” emphasizing the relevance of the event for the well-being of the Benildean community. Moreover, Faculty Consultant Project Director Ms. Maria Angelica Viceral mentioned how the third wave coffee revolution “teaches us how to express empathy to the farmers.”
The four-day wellness event concluded with the acknowledgement of the departments, offices, volunteers, organization partners, organizing team, and resource speakers of the event.