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El Camino Hospital

Painting Outside the Box

Mountain View, CA - December 30, 2009 - Tehila Eisenstat, professional artist and teacher, always thinks "outside the box" and encourages her students to do the same. Mulling over the possibilities this metaphor might present for her Creative Expressions classes, she began to experiment with a variety of cartons. The mundane, square pizza box captured her attention and led to the latest exhibition of artwork by cancer patients at El Camino Hospital, "Painting Out of the Box," which will be on display at Main Street Café and Books in Los Altos from January 4-31, 2010.

Her students used the white boxes, which were donated by Jakes of Saratoga as canvases. On them they painted mandalas, concentric diagrams that have spiritual significance in eastern religions and whose creation can be an important meditation practice. Mandala means containing essence or completion in Sanskrit. Every mandala has a center, cardinal points that can be contained in a circle and usually some form of symmetry. Tibetan Buddhist monks are famous for the intricate sand designs they take weeks to complete and then destroy as a meditation on impermanence.

Through the pleasurable, creative act of painting mandalas, Tehila strove to bring a sense of relaxation, healing and self-understanding to her students during their time of crisis (illness). "The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as a window into the subconscious mind," says Tehila. "While we were making our mandalas we sought that quiet place within ourselves."

Her Creative Expressions painting classes are part of El Camino Hospital's Healing Arts Program of compassionate services designed to ease the recuperative process. In addition to art lessons for cancer patients these include soothing music performed by professional musicians, massage, and visits by therapy dogs.

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