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Finding Meaning in Life Through Continuing Education Classes at The Jung Center

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Do you need to find meaning in everyday life? The Jung Center is a nonprofit resource center that does just that. This organization, unique to the Houston area, says their mission "is to support the development of greater self-awareness, creative expression and psychological insight- individually, in relationships and within the community." For nearly 60 years, the center has helped with day-to-day living and boosting the human spirit with its continuing education classes.

Stemming from the work of noted Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, the Center lets students ask important life questions, such as 'What does life mean?' or 'Why am I here?' Executive Director Sean Fitzpatrick says that Jung "believed that creativity is necessary for healthy human development, no matter how old you are," so the Center began as a way to provide opportunities for students to "learn for themselves how to live."

The Jung Center, which opened in 1958, annually serves more than 20,000 students and visitors. Taught by well-known creative professionals, scholars and psychotherapists from noted worldwide universities, students learn through hundreds of lectures, workshops, conferences, special events and art exhibits. As an example, an upcoming topic is entitled "Planning for Retirement with Imagination," which is a workshop exploring Jung and his views on the second half of life and what these lessons say about lives after retirement.

"The mind is an experience of the whole body", notes Fitzpatrick. Therefore, art and theater are incorporated into the Center's learning experiences, such as "An Evening of Playback Theatre" where true audience stories come alive in interactive improvisation. Fitzpatrick says about their visual arts, "Our art exhibits sometimes feature psychological themes, but art does not have to be 'psychological' for it to serve an important psychological function."

These art exhibits play well into the local arts community where the Center is a founding member of the Museum District Association. The Center believes that everyone should express themselves and experience their creativity, even if not a trained artist. "Being creative," explains Fitzpatrick, "involves getting our hands dirty and risking the vulnerability that can make real insight into the meaning of our lives possible."

Fitzpatrick tells us one of his favorite classes is about laughter yoga." The next class, given in mid-December, is "Outwit Stress with Laugher Yoga." Described as a breathing and movement exercise designed to release emotions, oxygenate the brain and body, strengthen the immune system and restore well-being and happiness, this class is clearly meant for everyone who needs to lessen their inner burdens. Fitzpatrick says, "Laughter yoga is a relatively new practice that involves a range of fun, easy techniques to generate laughter and break us out of our social inhibitions. It's the best contemplative experience I've had."

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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