expressive arts, art, core belief, parents, feel, therapy, clients, create, question, color, adult, people, black, understand, creative writing, speak, space, deep, thinking, express
Michalla Bohon, Megan Swan
Welcome back to energetically you where we will be talking about integrated wellness, abundant mindset and wealth ownership for ambitious women. Women who are looking to have more magnetic energy confidence from within. So ultimately they can make more empowered decisions for themselves. My name is Megan Swan and I'm an integrated wellness and business coach specializing in helping wealth runners often optimize their wellness so they can into a CEO mindset, magnetic energy to start to keep lying to actions to follow their dreams. I am so thrilled today to have a very special guest Her name is Michalla Bohon. She is a humanistic and existential registered clinic mental health counseling intern. Wow that's mouthful. She is all about the expressive arts and therapy she's Certified Life Purpose coach and past life regression coach and energy healer do shoot as a Heart Math I have a very dear friend who does Heart Math therapy as well. She's located in sunny Florida mashallah is an author inspired speaker, the founder and former CEO of a home for art and the creator of the healing arts and berry patch books. My goodness she has a lot going on. Can't wait to pick her brain. She is an online course creator game designer for youth. She is a former Disney entertainer robot handler, voiceover actress, commercial model, party planner, professional singer and foster care worker, my goodness. Michela has been featured in inspiring lives magazine on the chyme army podcast on fierce women pot project. The list goes on what I particularly love, she holds a bachelor's degree in both human development psychology and creative writing from Eckerd College. And she's currently working on her master's in clinical mental health counseling from the University of Cumberland sorry, she already did that what she's doing right now is at Harvard University, where she is working on completing her second master's in creative literature and hopes to obtain her PhD in expressive therapies. My goodness, she, in other words, is an expert on art and therapy. So let's dive in. Welcome, Michalla. Ah, oh, my goodness, I just read off of your bio. And there's just so many things that I'm excited to talk to you about. I have to, you know, decide where to start. But first, how are you? How's your morning going? Tell us all the things.
Thank you, Megan, I'm so excited to be here. My morning is going really well. I have gotten back into a routine. So I'm very focused on that abundance mindset, going for walks outside getting some sunshine, seeing a few clients having a nourishing breakfast, so I can't complain.
Amazing. Well, I really am so curious about your trajectory, where where do you think we should start because I really want to pick your brain in terms of, you know, our therapy in general, and then how you really have a unique spin on it bringing in energy healing at the same time. So where did those sort of cross for you? And it was a personally or was it with a client or a patient?
Yeah, I can give a mini story, I'll call it that kind of summarizes all of that up for us. So I was born and raised into an impoverished gypsy lifestyle. My parents were professional ice skaters. So I traveled all over the place with them for the first decade of my life. And when I moved in with my grandparents around 10, or 11, that was the first time someone asked me, What would you like to do with your life? What are your dreams? What are your goals? So I started exploring, and I always preface my I'll say my biography with that. Because once I started discovering that creative writing was something I really wanted to do. I got my bachelor's in creative writing. And I said, Oh, I want to add depth to my characters. So I decided to get a second bachelor's in psychology so that I can understand myself, my family, but also so that I could add realistic depth to what was going on with my characters. What I found was a second passion. And so I ended up getting my first master's in clinical counseling. And along that road, I found that I was drawn on to working with youth in impoverished settings that had been through similar things that I had been through whether from the parents perspective, substance abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, being impoverished and struggling in that sense. And so from that point, I created my nonprofit, a home for art. And I began to discover this thing called Art therapy. And it was a way for these youth and these individuals who were in foster systems going through extreme circumstances, to not have to verbalize their teenage angst, but to be able to express themselves in a way that was very natural. And once I graduated, I started working with adults and opened my own practice. And I've been able to see and recognize that Expressive Arts is not only universal, it's a language that we all speak on every cultural level, it is primordial, right, because we have cave paintings, the very beginning of time, so it, it transcends time, it transcends language. And it is such a beautiful way to reach deep into the subconscious and to help others heal. And to address your final question, and kind of summarize a conclusion here. When I was speaking with my adult clients, I found a lot of them, we're looking for more holistic modalities outside of the band aid fix medication. I am a huge proponent for medication, when it's a chemical need an imbalance, maybe with schizophrenia, or bipolar, severe depression. But so many of my clients didn't have that, and really wanted different opportunities. And that's where my certifications in meditation, Heart Math therapy, with the hypnotherapy and past life regression, and a couple of other paths that I took really came into play. And again, I noticed that need for the Expressive Arts for us to be able to dive deeper in a safe setting in a safe place.
Yeah, so much to pull from there. Um, where I live is in the south of Mexico in a state called Chiapas. And there are lots of really cool places, but so many of the caves have these pre Hispanic drawings. And so that's what that I also feel like. Yeah, there's just so much in terms of helping really, adults and children alike have other ways of expressing these things. And do you find that helping them find their self expression is usually a conduit to them than verbalizing? Or is that even necessary? Is it like a step by step thing there or not necessarily?
I think that it's different for each person. Some people come in wanting to do the Expressive Arts in order to reignite creativity, and some come to heal from trauma. I think that they go hand in hand, though, like you're saying, so individuals who come in looking for ways to self Express end up finding in the arts a partner to process with. And on the other end of the spectrum, people who come in, who have been through horrible traumas, who can't verbalize without shutting down and need that other form of expression along the way, rediscover their creative side or their inner child, and that becomes part of the healing process and really an unlocking point.
Yeah, I wanted to ask you to dive a little bit deeper into, like, how would you define a safe place? Because I mean, I have very my only experience with being trauma informed is in terms of teaching yoga, in that sense, and really, understanding how much the original sort of style of dialogue that I had been taught was not trauma informed. And, you know, just really not assuming that someone wants to go deeper in their body or once you know, that it's comfortable for everybody to be, you know, in the moment or inside their body and all these things and that there might be you know, just even saying that you invite them suggesting things opposed to everything being sort of an authoritative direction is really important. So how do you define like a safe space for self expression.
Yes. So specifically as it applies to the creative arts and therapeutic settings, creating a safe space for me, means that I'm drawing from the person centered theories that I love with Natalie Rogers, and they like to first present myself as authentically as possible, so that that person feels equally able to be vulnerable, to be silly, to be honest, to be relaxed, to kind of set that example to begin the mirroring process. I think the environment plays a big role. So having peaceful music on having shades and light and space that feels comforting, turning the lights down if they need something dimmer. And I think, finally, it also has a lot to do with being able to read their body language and understand when something's becoming too much. And to help guide them, I always tell my clients, I hold the lantern, you walk the path, because it's not my job, to hold their hand or to walk it for them, or to tell them what to do. I want to empower them. But I can hold the lantern and provide that light, and that comfort and that validation and that empathy and acceptance in the moment. So that they feel safe to fully express everything that they're going through. And in a nurturing environment. Yeah, I love that.
Can you talk a little bit about quantum healing? And how you know what that means to you and how you sought need for it?
Yeah, absolutely. So I have a goal, to create a PhD around this research. So I'm still new, and budding myself, as it applies to the topic. But when we think of quantum healing, we're thinking of it on a cellular level. And if we look at that, again, through Expressive Arts, which is their main topic here today, when we're diving that deep into our subconscious, we are creating quantum leaps, right leaps in consciousness, we're awakening we're becoming. And through that we alter our perception growth, is all about altering the perception because perception is life. That's everything we know. So if we change perception, we change the way we think we're changing on that deep quantum level. I'm also looking a lot into epigenetics right now, which right is how the environment affects our DNA, so to speak, or how our body reacts to that. And when we talk about the arts, that is an outside environmental aspect. So I think bringing these things together and looking at how does the environment if we create it, there's a little bit of structure, right? The arts and the therapy, tie into this deep cellular healing?
Oh, my goodness, I'm so excited to see what all becomes of it.
Thank you, I'm excited as well.
So let's talk a little bit, we were sort of chatting before we hit record about color. And, you know, you you alluded to the safe space and sort of like setting in an environment and, you know, I know, or maybe maybe it's not common knowledge, you know, that there's sort of common hospital colors or, you know, a psychiatric ward colors on this, these theories and how much it's, you know, helps or not, I don't know, but I certainly think that everyone can identify with this, you know, this idea that we have colors that we're attracted to, and, you know, maybe they're only something that you'd like to have in your home, but it's not necessarily the color you would wear, or vice versa. So what can you tell us about we were riffing on black which. Every time I'm in a big city in North America, I just noticed how much more people wear dark colors, in comparison to where I live here in Mexico, and I used to do the same thing. We're all black for many, many years. Because it was slimming because it was easy because everything went with everything. You know, I think I thought it was intellectual on some level. Sometimes it was, you know, practical and that it would like work with any scenario. But really it was you know, now hindsight looking back, I think more reflective of the emotional state I was in which was, you know, at least mildly depressed, self medicating with alcohol and just not entirely Returning with my life and feeling lost and all those things, but I felt it was like some sort of weird armor. I don't know if that makes sense.
That makes complete sense. When we speak about color, and we can talk about black too, towards the end, I think that there's three main points that popped into my mind. And that's mood, culture and comfort. So I can only speak from my bias beliefs and my limited experiences within the scope of consciousness in the world. But for me, we select what we wear, or what is within our homes based off of our mood based off of the culture that we're in, right, you mentioned, where you live, everything is a bit more bright, there's whites and blues, and it's just very integrated into the culture. And when we speak specifically to black, I tend to believe it is for comfort. You know, armor is comfort. There's a safety in the nothingness that black tends to represent. And I love what you said, it's poetic and moody, right? There's something there as well, a deep intellectual, it's easy. And I talk a lot with my clients and with people in general about how we get comfortable in our discomfort. So Black could represent the life stage that you were in in that moment, because you were comfortable waking up every day, and doing the exact same thing and sitting in the depression and sitting in the anxiety because it was what you knew, even though it was uncomfortable and horrible. It was easier to wake up and do the same thing every day and know what was expected and move mechanically through the emotions and the pain. What is difficult is to get out of our comfort zones to wear bright colors to be seen and heard. And to make those changes. So I think colors definitely play into mood. And I will throw in the black is a wonderful color. We are not speaking ill of it. It just happens to fall within you know, a very specific, I still do a lot
I just don't. I don't I don't remember the last time I wore all black I guess if I'm wearing a dress or something. But yeah, I always feel now like the needs something like a splash of color somewhere into the mix. The scenario, but
my favorite outfit is a black tank top and black workout shorts and black sandals. I'm still in that. Because again, right it's easy, it's neutral. I don't have to think or apply a lot of effort. And I'll be honest here to to deciding who I'm going to be that day. Right? Because I'm comfortable doing the same thing I always have.
Yeah, totally. So what does red represents to you? I noticed the the bio pics that we're gonna share with this episode, you have a gorgeous red dress on. And you happen to be wearing red today. Yeah.
So I think that for me specifically, the color red represents energy and power, heat, fire, love, emotion, passion. So it is a very vibrant color of desire, and accomplishment, higher achievement of, of knowing what you want and going after it. Yes.
What are your thoughts on? It seems to me that, or maybe it was just me personally or my, you know, immediate culture. It was easier to express anger, even though I wouldn't say like, it did that in a like outwardly way it was more like an inner anger. It was easier to go to anger than it is to sadness. Do you think that's like a just a common thing across the board or it's a spectrum for people? Because I feel like as a culture in terms of, you know, European, Canadian American culture, we're not that great at holding space for deep sadness for people. You know, it's like very uncomfortable. And I'd love your insight
on that. So again, I'm from a perspective and this is mine and mine alone, that beneath the sadness beneath the anger, the sole emotion might be fear. Yeah, totally. So often I find that that I will say 95% of the time when I speak to people. It is a fear of abandonment of rejection of failure of success. Those are the ones that I hear most commonly. So if we then move up to the higher levels, if we're thinking of this as I always use the onion, right? The deep core is the fear of those things and we move upward into anger. There's anger at the self at society. and not feeling accepted it feeling rejected at not having done what you wanted to do. And from all of that, of course, we can feel the sadness as well. So I think it becomes about addressing, I'm about addressing the core root beliefs. So I might, you know, a person might say, I'm really sad. And I'll say, Okay, well, why are you sad? Well, I'm, I'm really angry at myself for not accomplishing my goals. And we look then at well, why, what holds you back? Right? What are the blocks that keep you? Well, I'm afraid of success or failure. And then we look at where did that core belief stem from? Oh, well, I never thought about this before. But I saw and notice that my parents always said, you have to work for what you want, it's not handed to you. And Society said I couldn't have that dream because it wouldn't pay enough money. And now we find that the core belief is, I'm not worthy, or I'm not good enough. Those are always the main two. And that it was a learned and observed and absorbed belief from others that we took on, it was not our core belief. And I think when we discover that so many, not all, but so many of our beliefs are ones that we took from others and decided to carry. And that can be let go and replace that as a free moment, because we recognize that they were not necessarily ours that we had to take on. You. Yeah.
So how might you walk someone through that whole thought process, but in an art therapy form?
So it works a little bit different than talk therapy? I can only maybe I can't speak exactly to that question. Because when I do expressive arts, I do everything off the cuff, right off the cuff, I have very specific tools that I will go to and return to, but everything else has to be created on an individual level. So when it comes to the art, I might literally have them draw an onion, because we want a visual for this and create the layers so that they have the core belief going through the phases that I just talked to you about. I have instances, I'll show you, I'll tell you like an example of one thing that I do. And this goes a little bit away from your question, but it's all I can think to share. So yeah, so well behind me. We have a sigma series. And they are for images that are eight feet tall, where I traced my body or had it traced for me. And it was a form of re parenting the self because I recognized through my onion through the talk therapy aspect that I had core beliefs that were not my own that were picked up along the way. So the first image represents being in the womb, the second is childhood. The third is teenage years. And the fourth is now as an adult, and I hope to create more. And what I would do is they each took about a month, day to day, week to week, I would slowly go and add what I was called to add based off of the growth that I was making throughout my time, right? And as I'm going I'm very focused on let's say like the womb, right, who was I? Before I even came into existence, what was I supposed to be what was my purpose, what is the meaning coming from source, etc, etc. And I was able to see just it naturally came out. Like for an example the child one I have a chain around my ankle. And I wasn't, it was natural to add it in the moment, but I wasn't thinking about it. After I was done, I stepped back and that's when you do the processing. And I could look at it and say Okay, now let's analyze why is that chain there? Where's it coming from? What did I feel changed to? Or bogged down by? And so it creates a way to unconsciously create and then you go in and do the processing to find the answers.
That's incredible. Well, as you're telling me this, I feel like, you know, kids are still in this state where it's really easy to access this reading without thinking, yes. I'm not so sure with adults. So if there's like a process that you've helped sort of like, help them like stop overanalyzing how it looks or what they're doing in that sense.
A quote comes to mind, I cannot remember who said it or what book it was in. So I apologize to the author who I'm not getting credit to in this exact moment, but it was a gentleman who had gone into In a kindergarten class, and he said, Who here is an artist, and all the kids raise their hands. And then he went into a college. And he asked the same question and only two people raise their hands. Because we get, as he described it, so stuck in this idea that an artist means trained and educated. And we forget that we're all artists. And that expression is about song, dance, movement, art, writing, reading, I mean, and so many other things. So I think I always start out with that, quote, and helping adults realize that, again, we are born and it's not taken away from us as artists. And the second way that I do this is to create, again, that safe, authentic space. Expressive Arts and expressive arts therapy are never about judgment, or psycho analyzing. In an extreme sense, it is very much about allowing the person to scribble scrabble, their anger, to draw stick figures, to create masterpieces, whatever they need, they're going to get the message that they're looking for. So there's no pressure, there's no teaching, I'm not trained in art at all. That is not in my background. So it's in letting them know that this is not about the art itself, or even the creativity. It's about accessing the subconscious to find the answers that are within us already and unlocking that. I think that alleviates the pressure.
Can you touch on the relationship between the central nervous system and that sort of innate need to express?
That's a very interesting question. No one has asked me that before I have to ponder it here. So when we talk about the central nervous system, a lot of people are coming in because of anxiety. Because they're stuck in these high levels of cortisol that are released in our fight or flight, we come into the world in a neutral state, and our jobs and the stresses of life push us up into this constant state of high cortisol levels where we actually become addicted. And so our brain changes to allow us to think that high stress is our new norm. So that when we decide to rest and relax, that feels weird and uncomfortable, we want to get out of that. We can't sit we need to keep busy. We feel guilt and shame, right? Because our brain is saying something's wrong, this isn't our normal because we've trapped ourselves in those high stress states and retrain our brains to think that that's okay. So when we look at expressive arts, and how it affects that particular system, myself, and my clients have all stated that creating art, no matter the facet, is very therapeutic and very meditative. Because we go into the space where we're thinking a little bit less, there's less pressure, we're learning how to let go. Oftentimes, I'll have clients draw with their non dominant hand, because that's harder, and they're forced to just make it messy as the inner child hand. So I think that creating in that sense allows us to remember how to be youthful and in that childlike space of not caring, and it's very meditative and soothing and relaxing. And I have yet to ever work with someone who has come out of an expressive session and still felt heightened.
Love that answer? Thank you. Thank you. So one, I want to be respectful of your time I can't resist going back to how you open the conversation with your your gypsy pass. So can you share something about that? I'm curious, I'm sure you've reflected certainly with the artwork, you're just talking about that you've done but, you know, the, the blessings and sort of maybe the things you had to reparent that were a result of, of that sort of, I'm guessing
unstable childhood. So to clarify as your question, what were the things that I needed to repair and or what were the things that were gleaned?
Yeah, so on the one side, like what did you feel that you needed to repair it and and on the other side, like what was really a gift of that unique experience?
I think for me, and I'm human and admit that I'm still working with this. My core is the self worth Because I understand from a rational space from my adult mind that my parents did the best with what they had that they made their choices. And that that's okay, that's completely fine. They had their struggles. But my inner child still struggles to understand how the two people that were supposed to care for me and love me, right made me even if it was an unconscious effort feel rejected, not worthy, not loved. And so that is the core belief that while my mind was developing, I grew up trying to understand my grandparents gave me a whole other set of opportunities, different generation. And with them, sometimes it could be conditional love. And so that was another layer of feeling unworthy. So again, right, so all four parents did the best with what they had, and I love them individually for it truly. But that was where the root and the core were really stemming from. And I think, as I'm re parenting myself, through the art, and through my own growth, it might be a lifelong experience, it might be lifelong learning. Because I still definitely have senses of that now. I myself, which is why I specialize in it, sit with the do more, be more, right to be enough to feel loved. And I know that at the end of the day, it comes from within. And the confidence comes from within. And I feel very blessed to have support around me. So I think, to directly answer your question. Expressive Arts provides me with the knowledge that my universal source is my parent. And that's not going anywhere. And that has always been there. And that will always be there for me. And that provides nurturing and strength and resilience. And there is such a huge amount of universal love and knowing and safety in that space.
Thank you for sharing that. And I mean, in my professional opinion, yes, you're always going to be you know, what the sort of core things that we deal with, I think we get faster at reframing and sort of not letting it hold us back. But it's it's a lifelong practice of sorts. And and maybe that's the journey.
That's the gift because you mentioned what good came from it. I wouldn't change a single thing. Because my parents were entertainers. And my grandparents gave me opportunity to explore the arts. I did professional modeling and television work and art and cheerleading and theater classes. And I worked at Disney, and I worked in foster homes. I took everything from my experiences, and I combine them into healing through expressive arts. And I don't think that I would understand it on the level that I do, had I not had my own experiences in those facets.
Definitely. I'm curious, so the piece where you felt like that you're deducting the lack of self worth? Is it because you perceive your parents is choosing their own career or their own desires over parenting.
So a little bit of context, and I always speak about this gently, because I am aware that it's not my place to tell their story. My father struggled with drugs, and he passed away from what is assumed to be an overdose on muscle relaxers a few years back, and he had a temper. And both my parents were not the best with finances. My mother has in the past been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar. And she and I used to be best friends but the relationship is now very detached because I've had to set boundaries for my own health and understanding. So I think addiction and mental health played a huge role in what they were able to do and not able to do and that's the acceptance It's part for me and understanding. But at the end of the day, I, the inner child, not the adult self, but the inner child very much looks at it as choices, right all along the way. There were small choices and opportunities for change, for a different path for a different connection. And I do not believe that those were often taken.
Long, so sorry to hear about your dad.
Thank you, I appreciate that. I will admit that he and I were not extremely close. So it did not hit as hard as maybe it does. For others. I feel the loss more now. Because I recognize that so many of my beliefs about him, or what others told me behind his back, and I did not get the opportunity to get to know him, and thus parts of myself that I now have questions about, because I let others define his being for me. Yeah,
I can relate to that a little bit. My father committed suicide when I was 17. And for a very long time, and just kind of like, remembered his alcoholism and that piece, and kind of defined him by that instead of, you know, really sitting in the sadness that I wouldn't get to know him as an adult. And all the other spin out of that. And, yeah, we were very good at telling that story and sticking to it right back to the conference.
And I love workshops and books and things that talk about rewriting the narrative for that very purpose, you know, deciding to take control of the story, and to change the perception perspective, so that we have that sense of peace, and we have so much more clarity in it. Yeah.
So tell us how I mean, you sound extremely busy, I did want to tell you like, you are enough, you're doing enough. Like, you could probably stop here and you're good. But are you currently like with all of the other things going on, and you're currently working with clients private?
Yeah, so I will preface this very, very briefly, that the do more be more, I recognized as a huge part of me. And I in the past two years have learned to slow down, I finished all of the projects that I started, I closed some of the ones that no longer could take my energy so that I could wholeheartedly give my full self to projects instead of being spread all over the place, which I was. I love education I always have that I've learned is not to do more, be more it is I can have three days off, and I truly get bored, I need the stimulation I'm always questioning. So future, I am starting my second master's at Harvard Extension School on June 20, in creative writing, because I really want to continue to follow that passion and purpose. I would love to produce films and young adult fiction, a self help book, kind of talking about everything we've discussed today. And some more children's books, very patch books is my website for the children's books that I have published. Now, my six one will be coming out hopefully in November. And outside of that my full focus is on the new practice. I just opened on tu tu, tu tu, which is the healing arts LLC. And that is where I provide all of my holistic services and life coaching via in person or online. And then again, in the future, there's that PhD, I want to adopt a few children and do some traveling. And we'll see where it goes from there.
Just a few things on the list, just a
few things. And I think that's good, right? I love having that drive and that purpose. And for me, I am here to experience life in general, and to taste the flavors and to understand things at a deep, complex level. And that's what I enjoy. So each of those things, provides that and I'm very excited about them.
No, I'm gonna have to check out those children's books. I'm a huge fan of children's books. I feel like we could talk for hours, but I'll be respectful of your time. We'll wrap it up for at least for today. And maybe we'll have another conversation in the future. But yeah, just thank you for sharing your energy and your time and your wisdom and for all that you're doing for the for everyone. I know that you're really just helping so How many people with with your work and can't see? Can't wait to see how it all turns out all the things you produce in the future?
Thank you, Megan. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me on today.