How can Mindfulness be practiced with Creativity?
- The process of making art can be mindful. Focus on here and now, the paint/ink/paper/glue in hand and the unfolding process, observing each new mark or movement or sound, and how it fits into or changes the “whole”. Painting some subjects allow a repetitive, meditative type of mood, or flow; for example, repetition of motifs such as beads, or drawing and then coloring a symmetrical mandala.
Each medium has its own characteristics that result in different sensory experiences – the intermingling of washes of watercolor; precision, dribble or flow of ink which can be pushed, pulled and washed; the texture of thick oils, impressionistic; pushing clay into 3 dimensional shapes and even the feeling of drying clay on skin. The process of being creative alone can bring about a “flow” experience, proven to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety.
2. Make the subject the point of focus. By painting an everyday object mindfully, we see it in new ways, with new appreciation. Suggestions: Take a close or different perspective, presenting the subject in a way that evokes increased awareness, clarity of something that might otherwise be lost in the “every-day” busyness of life (the veins of a leaf, or from an ant’s perspective). Or take a motif (eg a flower, mouth or abstract shape) and paint it in different ways, (abstract, realism, crayon, ink, collage), to focus on different aspects of the same thing.
3. Paint an image that reminds you of a place where its easy for you to practice mindfulness, perhaps a place already familiar to your senses. For example, a beach or interior of a cathedral. A friend told me the best part of her stressful day was feeding the chooks early in the morning. Painting images of the chook pen brought a sense of calm and joy for her, recalling the sensory experience of a clean new dawn, clucking of birds, colors of the timber and wire, winding passionfruit vines.
4. Focus on a mantra or intention. Take a mantra or favorite saying and meditate on that while doing art on or around it. Example: I am love. What color, patterning, symbols come to mind? Fill the mind with the intention while making art with that intention in mind. You may wish to incorporate words into the work, to be seen or covered. Calligraphy alone provides opportunities to dwell on words, purposefully.
5. Increase self awareness through personal meaning, emotions, symbols. For example, expressive art, “outsider art” and visual journals are opportunities to express personal experiences and processes. Anger, sadness, gratitude, life events and transitions can be expressed in art, increasing mindful awareness. This form of mindfulness art is very effective to explore, acknowledge, honor and/or “let go”, often healing in ways that words alone cannot.