AT THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN CREATIVITY AND psychology, where the intellect and art collide, Alena Ahrens begins her work. After years in academia, Alena merges together the worlds of positive psychology, mindfulness, and contemporary art methods to bring new ways of being to those seeking health, wellness and creative expression.
Raised in an Asian and Caucasian American family, with a first-generation Chinese-Thai father and an American mother, Alena’s childhood saw her growing up with exposure to multiple cultures. This gave her a deep sensitivity to how internal and external structures shape identity.
It was her mother who first showed her the world of mindfulness. With a deep interest in Eastern thought and a long-standing practice in Transcendental Meditation (TM), Alena’s mother introduced her to a practice of a mantra-based meditation, one she would hold twice daily without fail.
With exposure to such a powerful practice at an early age, Alena’s consciousness was given boundless space to grow, sparking curiosity and an approach to life that would later MINDFUL + PRATIQUE: ART AS A CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE alena ahrens enforce her life’s work.
During her college years, Alena pursued a graduate degree that would deepen her critical thinking skills. While studying the impact of the performing arts on psychological well-being, Alena was accepted to work alongside esteemed performance artist, Marina Abramović, at New York’s prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
During this period of her life, while pursuing expansion of the intellect and deepening of artistic expression, Alena came to recognize that it was her spiritual practice that contributed to her ideation and creative process. She started incorporating these principles into her academic studies.
Alena began investigating literature on mindfulness and the arts. Her research By Alena Ahrens 18 MindBodySoul.media | Spring 2022 explored how mindfulness, combined with various performance and artistic protocols, encouraged introspection. This work led Alena to a residency at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), the Abandoned Practices residency in Prague, and later to an MFA at SAIC. Here, she pursued a practitioner-scholar route that enabled her to investigate the relationship between self-awareness and art.
Throughout her graduate career at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, Alena delved into research and literature in character education, positive psychology and social-emotional learning. What followed was a three-year period in which she’d explore methods and strategies designed to improve character, refining a deep interest in positive psychology—which would soon form the basis of her career and work.
Alena takes inspiration from her many experiences in life; from her formative years exploring TM and mindfulness to her training in contemporary performance and creative arts, and finally her studies in the realms of positive psychology. This path has led to the synthesis of new methodologies for wellness and wellbeing.
She makes her mark on the world through her entrepreneurial venture, Mindful + Pratique, a space that shares practices and rituals in the form of yoga classes, creative arts intensives, workshops and courses. These practices all draw from the fields of mindfulness, positive psychology, and performance and are designed to foster key character strengths, in a methodology Alena has pioneered called Symbolic Transformation.
Summer Clouds (2016) Dimensions: 2’x2’
Media: Oil, enamel, raw canvas
Sincere Affection (2016) Dimensions: 2’x2’
Media: Oil, oil stick, graphite, BFK Rives paper
To know more about Mindful + Pratique contact Alena Ahrens, Founder, Holds an MFA in studio practices from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Holds a PhD in Education with a focus on Teaching and Learning Processes from the University of Missouri – St. Louis:
Exploration of Self
Visual and written tools can be vehicles for self exploration.
Think about what kinds of media you enjoy that might help you
discover new aspects of yourself and express who you are.