M + P is a curated collection of approaches from the artistic and educational practices of Alena Ahrens, PhD, MFA. The methods arise from how individuals access the self and utilize energy to reach full potential. Alena’s vision is to equip individuals with the knowledge and tools to access their best selves. The initial development of M + P began when Alena reconnected with Kathryn O’Brien, MAEd, PhD, LCSW during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alena and Kate were doctoral students collaborating on a project about human trafficking in the Midwestern U.S in 2015. They quickly realized their shared interests and passion for helping others reach empowerment and practice resilience. Each went on to build expertise. Alena’s scholarly interest in the intersection of psychological wellbeing and creative expression led her to the pursuit of additional expertise in visual and performance art at SAIC. Meanwhile, Kate pursued scholarship related to non-binary gender identities and human equality, carrying her interests into the community as a key volunteer-leader with Educators for Social Justice and as an inaugural member of the planning committee for the Transgender Spectrum Conference. At the start they knew their shared interests remained firm, and that what could arise from their synergy would foster resilience and joy.
Mindful + Pratique was born.
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Alena Ahrens, PHD, MFA | FOUNDER
Alena is a Contemporary American-Asian artist and educator who is based in the Midwest. Her passion for exploring the intersection of art and wellbeing evolved out of spending much of her childhood in Thailand and has led to on-going theoretical and empirical research in the areas of the arts, mindfulness, and educational psychology. She earned her MFA in studio practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and completed her PhD in education with a focus on Teaching and Learning Processes at the University of Missouri St. Louis. She enjoys developing new methods that promote well-being by drawing from multiple domains of knowledge and offering them in a workshop format. Alena has shared her work around the world and enjoys connecting with others through virtual platforms.
Kate O’Brien, MAEd, PHD, LCSW
Kate brings to Mindful + Pratique perspectives of individual growth from education and engagement in music and theatre, psychotherapy, and higher education. She completed her bachelor’s degree in music and theatre at Indiana University, earned an MAEd in counselor education at St. Louis University, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis conferred her PhD in education in the area of Teaching and Learning Processes. She holds graduate certificates in Gender Studies, and in Social Justice Education. Kate is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and works in private psychotherapy practice through Urban Balance in Clayton, Missouri.
Ana morales, MFA, BFA
Ana is based in Roanoke, Virginia and works primarily as a mixed media artist and graphic designer. She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from James Madison University, where she studied studio art and art education. Ana’s work is largely informed by her life as a type 1 diabetic. She’s particularly interested in art-making as an opportunity to play and experiment. She has over 5 years of experience in teaching visual arts methods in museum and gallery settings. Ana brings to Mindful + Pratique expertise in a wide array of artistic practices that include bookmaking, experimental journal and painting, mixed media methods, realist painting, and paper-making.
Isabel is a visual artist and yoga instructor who is currently based in Minnesota. She holds a BFA from California Institute of the Arts in dance and choreography with a minor in digital arts. She earned her 200 hour yoga teacher certification from Green Lotus Yoga & Healing center in Mendota Heights MN. Since becoming a yoga teacher she has furthered her training in trauma-informed work, becoming a Y12SR (Yoga for 12 Step Recovery) leader. Isabel has experience in curation, choreography, contemporary dance, tattoo design, painting, and film. Isabel’s work presents alternate ways of healing the mind and body. Through her recent work she is exploring meditation in performance, and creating images to help people find connection and inner peace.
Lindsay Luterman, E-RYT 500, RCYT, YACEP
Lindsay is a published author, yoga instructor, blogger, and wellness coach! She earned her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Certification through the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, her 1000 Hour Yoga Teacher Certification through Naropa University, and her Children’s Yoga Certification. She is mastered in two forms of Reiki energy healing. She has also earned her Associates of Arts in Early Childhood education and her Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary studies– focussing on Education and Health Science– through Liberty University. Her favorite types of yoga to practice are Restorative and Yin yoga.