A MINNEAPOLIS LAW FIRM USED MEDITATIVE PAINTINGS AND MEDICAL TESTS TO MEASURE STRESS REDUCTION AND OTHER IMPACTS
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN., – How can anyone stressed out in these difficult times learn to calm down? A Minneapolis law firm, an artist and a doctor might have the answer.
Taking a holistic and totally innovative approach to improving business practices and the health of its attorneys, the Minneapolis law firm Parsinen Kaplan Rosberg + Gotlieb P.A., (PKR+G www.parlaw.com ) recently turned to art, meditation and science to understand if the calming “nature” paintings by renowned artist Joan Solomon (www.joansolomon.com ) could impact productivity and help increase profitability by providing stress relief. First reactions to the study at the distinguished law firm ranged from skepticism to intrigue. But in the end art proved triumphant through science.
After 60 Solomon paintings and 40 prints -some have been described as containing “worlds within worlds” and “healing works of art” – were hung throughout the PKR+G offices, the study focused on how stress and adrenal function were affected by art through an “Art Calm” relaxation/meditation technique devised by the artist. The 18 participating attorneys who engaged in the process each selected a painting for their office, and four times a day, with the ringing of a Zen bell through their computers, they then were asked to spend 10 seconds or more in Art Calm mediation while gazing at the paintings.
The unusual experiment was overseen by Robert Bruley, MD, DC, of The Bruley Center (www.bruleycenter.com) in southwest Minneapolis.
Dr Bruley is a graduate of Mayo Medical School, holds a degree in chiropractic from Northwestern Health Sciences University, is board-certified in holistic medicine and specializes in Integrative and Functional medicine.
The overall result?
• 66% overall improvement in stress response among PKR+G attorneys
• 9% increase in collected revenue for the firm
• Enhanced relationships among legal staff and clients
• Interesting conversations about mind, art and medicine
According to Bruley, the collective and individual results showed a marked improvement among those studied. It also demonstrated the benefits associated with meditation and, in this case, the power of Solomon’s paintings to inspire more peaceful, healthier states, based on key factors such as blood pressure and adrenal functions.
“At the initiation of the 10-week study, then once again at its conclusion, each participating lawyer completed a subjective stress-scale questionnaire and was then examined,” explains Bruley. “We also assessed participants’ pupillary reaction to light as a measure of adrenal function and, in particular, compared first their recumbent then their standing pulse and blood pressure. To most accurately and objectively determine the subjects’ stress response, the comparison of their systolic (upper blood-pressure number) pressures were utilized. Ideally, this systolic blood-pressure change should be an increase of six to 10 points (mmHg). An increase greater than this would imply over-function of the adrenals; an increase less than this – or any decrease – would suggest adrenal hypo-function.”
“The benefits of the experiment were clear from the very beginning,” notes Mary Kay Ziniewicz, PKR+G Marketing Director “We saw attorneys stepping out of their comfort zone and into an artist’s studio to connect with art. They learned about themselves and their colleagues. Clients and staff gained insight into the sensitive side of their legal counsel and conversations took place that would not have otherwise taken place.
The artist’s works generate “by themselves – almost like automatic writing”
This isn’t the first time Solomon’s mystical art that is gently centered in the natural world has been put to the test in real world settings. Her visionary work is often found across the country in clinics, nursing homes, healing centers – and among a growing number of savvy, international collectors. Solomon, a former senior-level professional from the advertising and branding worlds, began spontaneously painting 20 years ago and had no formal training as a painter.
“My paintings just started by themselves, almost like automatic writing,” says the painter who for the first years of her artistic initiation never even signed her work. “I always felt like I was suddenly endowed with a gift, that the paintings just came through me. Why would I sign them?”
“The experiment at the law firm again conveys how mindfulness and simple deep breathing breaks at work can produce measurable scientific results for healthier people, including very busy and often overworked lawyers,” notes Solomon, who is also a writer and photographer and the creator of the enchanted and practical book, Spirits in the Garden: the Amazing Realm of Secret Life All Around Us” (Grynwild Publishing/ www.joansolomon.com ). “Some of the attorneys who experienced positive results didn’t even bother with the meditation or breathing, they just looked at the art.”