For 30 days, Amy Puente stayed away from most social media. Puente stands at the front of the room and quizzes the class during the presentation of her experiment. She asks about phone use and opinions on Snapchat to determine whether or not her her peers are social media dependent. The projector depicts a familiar shade of blue. The class groans and admits that the color could be nothing other than Facebook. While Puente missed the brief glimpses into the lives of her friends and family that social media allowed, and she didn’t start regularly working out as she had hoped she would, Puente spent her free time making recipes from Pinterest.
With only a week left until the holiday break, many students at Santa Fe University of Art and Design scramble to finish finals, say farewell to friends and pack for their travels. While some students are too focused on assignments to think about self care, Shanna Marsh’s Integrative Health class reflects on a challenge to spend 30 days breaking or forming a habit with the intention of improving an aspect of their lives. “This class is about coming into wholeness,” Marsh says. “It challenges you to attend to your personal health…so you can become a better artist and person.”
The class began the semester by exploring nutrition, exercise, meditations, the nervous system, healthy thoughts and active positive thinking. Each presentation depicts an intimate portrayal of the individual and how they used what they learned to make self improvements.
Some students worked to lessen anxiety or battle all-encompassing self loathing. Julian Williams, a senior Graphic Design major, decided he would spent 30 days learning the Dutch language. “Not just learning a language,” Williams says. “But seeing how [that new language] affected my mood and my thought processing.” Williams was raised speaking German and English and went on to learn Spanish as an asset to travel. “I didn’t think about how [Spanish] was changing me when I learned it.”
Marsh emphasizes the importance of self awareness as an element of her class. For Williams, practicing breathing awareness exercises called Pranayama improved his ability to retain the Dutch he learned each day.
Hawie Reyne Veniegas, a senior Photography major, stands at the front of the class while students pass around delicate, hand-bound sketchbooks. “You don’t have to [care] about what anyone else thinks,” Veniegas says. “Shut your mind off to the things that are around you.” This is what Veniegas repeated to himself as a mantra for 30 days in an attempt to change how he creates art.
One student, Johanna Mariel Vega, shows a before photo of her heavily blemished face beside a photo of herself with smooth, evenly colored and unmarred skin. Vega’s acne disappeared when for 30 days, she drank only water.
While Vega detoxified her body with water, Van Nguyen, a junior Digital Illustration major, detoxified her living space by sorting through everything she owned, throwing out anything that didn’t make her happy and donating five large bags of clothes. Nguyen, based her project on the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. “I had all this stuff and nowhere to put it,” Nguyen says. “My life was a mess. The rooms reflected the state of my mind.” When her roommate, a longtime smoker, threw out an ashtray, Nguyen said to herself, “Yeah. It’s about time for all of us to change.”
The book that inspired Nguyen focused on the idea of only being surrounded by items that are symbols of happiness. “Even if [something] is sentimental, does it spark joy? If not…why are you keeping it?” Nguyen asks. “All of those things I was just carrying around. That’s not who I am now.”
Integrative Health will once again be available for students to enjoy in the spring semester.