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Art Therapy With Synjin Mrkvicka

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Tell us about your journey to becoming a holistic health advocate?

I grew up between Illinois and Wisconsin in Rockford, IL as a classic 90s American kid hooked on on cans of pop, McDonalds kids meals and Bagel Bites. My mom worked three jobs so the easier the meal the better, what I'm getting at is; I wasn't raised to be conscious of my intake. When I moved away from home for the first time to work at a summer camp in New Hampshire, my friends introduced me to good syrup. Where there's an address on the bottle that's likely in your zip code. From then on I transformed from microwave food queen to discovering what my surroundings had to offer, and it turned out to be tastier and even easier at times.

What is your favourite treatment that you like to spoil yourself with?

Right now I spend all my extra guap on essential oils! Summer is as busy as it is fun, which narrows the gap for relaxation at home. I can carry oils with me and they're very potent, I like eucalyptus oil/mist if I need a pick-me-up and a citrus blend if I need an outlook adjustment. I get oils from co-op stores and some of my friends home distill oils.

What do you do on a daily basis that you find keeps your life on track in a holistic way?

I want to say yoga, but that practice is more instrumental to replenishing my mind and body. Affirmations are what keep me on track every single day. Written or said out loud, because I can actually picture the words written down or hear the words I'm saying out loud (a few times over). There's an artist's career that I admire who posted her list of affirmations on Instagram, that lifted a weight off me, knowing people I view as more successful than myself also need to drown out the doubt.

Where is your favourite place to nourish yourself?

My kitchen, being conscious of what I put in my body and how good not putting crap into it feels is an easy way to feel strong all the time.

What practice or treatment can’t you live without?

Drawing is how I process life. I try to encourage friends who have put down their pencils and markers along the way in life to let themselves get lost in drawing once in a while. No one has to see what you've made, but you!

Who was your great mentor/teacher?

C Mae Jones-a true friend and inspiration- who introduced me to yoga and veganism (still doing yoga, not still eating vegan). She showed me how listening to yourself can be a transformational experience and that it can happen at any point in life, she went from waitress/journalist to owning the yoga studio she teaches at/owner of the Cruelty Free Kitchen.

Why is yoga so important for the times we’re living in?

We live in a pretty "scroll" centric time where it's hard to break from your phone screen. This is where yoga's importance is for me, the practice is an hour or so commitment to yourself, it's a really short period of separation from the digital world.

Do you feel that the United States is in the forefront of the move toward alternative and complementary medicine?

I think we appreciate other cultures practices deeply and are quick to learn, adapt and adopt. Our curiosity is definitely a pioneer.

Who do you admire in the holistic world?

Tara Stiles. She has used YouTube to make yoga very available in a time when it's not the most affordable interest to have which is unfortunate. I admire her effort, a world class instructor democratizing a practice and sharing it.

Which ancient systems attract you most?

Geometry. It influences my visual decision making especially in times where I make visuals to escape stress or boredom. There is a methodic simplicity in drawing geometric shapes, I find it meditative to cover a surface in shapes, try it.

How do you remain authentic within a commercial world?

I remember that getting caught up in likability and pleasing aesthetics only goes so far with anything, and no two people are the same and that's a good thing!

Tell us about your company and where we can find you?

I operate as a moving art circle, encouraging friends (new and old) and their friends to join me in gathering to make art in a non-judgmental environment. In these circles I provide the materials (that have mostly been donated by artists) and set intentions that we are making art to decompress not impress. I find it empowering to have remnants of days I have overcome and enjoyed amongst my things. You can find me through my Instagram (@synjstagram) where I update what city I am in and post updates about art circles, my own art and shameless-ish selfies.

Tell us about your studies. What did you like and dislike about your training? How did you build on previous educational experiences?

I went to school for studio art and art history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Going to a big ten school challenged where I would chose to live, I had to push myself and make the most of my time in a place where I didn't connect to the culture. I started practicing yoga near the beginning of college and over time yoga went from something I thought about and made time for, to the way I live and process my life. The shift to conscious living and breathing and listening to your body takes time.

What do you find is the easiest way for you to connect to your holistically minded community?

Sharing everything; resources, knowledge, experiences, materials, anything and everything. Being open to others and not coveting any possessions allows for unexpected and powerful possibilities. Social media helps too :)

How do you morally react to practicing new age spirituality and using western medicine?

Big sigh. My mother was a pharmaceutical representative for the first seventeen years of my life so I got my fair share of antibiotics early on, I only think it hurt me so I took a stance to use simple remedies (tea tree for cuts and disinfectant, mullein and honey for lungs). It's also on us to take care of our bodies when we aren't sick to prevent illnesses and that takes effort (hydrate!!!!!)

What unique challenges and rewards come from working with your patients in an independent holistic health counseling setting?

People often giggle at the thought of art therapy. It amazes me how anxious the thought of drawing makes some- that's the first challenge-to help people believe that picking up a pen and drawing is totally doable. When people start to feel uninhibited, like a kid with a pack of crayons, it always makes me smile and is great reward for me.

What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?

Long term I hope to have a space for exchanging knowledge and sharing art, short term I really hope I can sustain a non 9-5 life with my work for as long as I can.

Describe a typical day (or week) of work for you.

I do my circles every few months, planning for them can take a week or a month depending on the interest level I find in a city. I work for a visual artist and make my own art as well which calls for deep, deep focus sometimes 12-15 hours of work. I wake up and read-I try not to judge myself all day so I make a 20 min goal of reading, 15 min sketching or writing, work, and lots of biking.

On a basic level, what skills does your job demand?

Responsibility, if I'm not together as a person I can't help others to my best ability. I have to be organized and believe in what I'm doing otherwise art circle won't work.

What are some common myths about the holistic health counseling profession?

That there isn't real progress accomplished which I think comes from the instant satisfaction expectations western medicine has kind of poisoned us with.