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5 Exercises to Practice Mindfulness Through Art

6:00:00 AM

So I started this year off with a personal goal of being more mindful and positive in my life. 2015 was a year of a lot of positive change for me, however as with all change comes the inevitable turmoil and stress. My life began to feel a bit chaotic to say the least! Add to that the tense political culture and the unrest in the world around me, I decided that I really needed to place an intention on better self care. I have put into place a number of things in my life which are helping me to stay more focused, present, and peaceful. Mindful Art is a very important tool that I use to keep myself in the right frame of mind.

Experience Mindful Meditation Through Art

Art has a very positive effect on my state of mind when I can remember to keep these things in mind:

  1. Be present in the moment of creating.
  2. Let go of judgement and expectation.
  3. Give myself permission to make "Ugly Art"
Mindful meditation is about being present in the moment. With mindfulness the aim is to observe and acknowledge thoughts without judgement. When you meditate you will often focus on your breath or a mantra which serve to keep you in the present. Art can also provide a similar focus to your meditation.

Art for this purpose is not meant to be a masterpiece. This is not the time to paint for your next gallery show. Instead choose something that allows you to experience the process of creating without the need to be beautiful. Some art produced during these sessions is in fact beautiful and some is not. Both are valuable to your experience.

Our February Creative Mindfulness Class painting Rock Mandalas

Give it a try...

Select a medium you wish to work with (Pens, pencils, paint, collage...)Once you have selected your medium it is time to prepare your space and yourself. You may want to set the ambiance with pleasant music or white noise. You may wish to light a candle. Set out the supplies you will need so that you don't have to constantly be running to get water for your brushes or a pencil sharpener...Sit somewhere where you feel comfortable. 

Now take a moment to sit quietly and be still. Notice your breath and how your body feels. You may want to take a few deep cleansing breaths. When you are ready draw your attention to your art. Without judgement notice the sight of your creation as you move. Perhaps the paint is flowing across your page, perhaps there is dust from chalk pastels collecting on the edges of your creation. How does your chosen medium feel in your hand? Is your hand relaxed or tense as you move across your page? Notice the sound you medium makes as you manipulate it. Take in the smell surrounding your art as you work. The goal is to be immersed in the process of creating. Let your judgments fade away.

My Top 5 Favorite Mindful Art Exercises

Drawing Lines- This is easy enough, simply fill a page with lines. Your lines can be straight or wobbly. They can all go the same direction or they can change direction. I prefer to draw in ink since it eliminates the tendency to rely on an eraser. It is easier to let go of judgement if you know you have to work with your "mistakes."

Drawing Simple Shapes- Filling up a space with circles, triangles, squares, or spirals can be very cathartic.

Play with Watercolor Paint- No need for fancy watercolors here, any will do. Just experiment with the paint, play with it. Notice how the colors mix with the water, and each other.

Scribble Drawings- With a black crayon, marker, or oil pastel scribble loosely on a piece of paper. Fill in the various shapes with color or doodles. You can use paint, colored pencils, crayons, or pens.

Torn Paper Collage- Using old magazines or scrap paper rip out strips or shapes and glue to a new paper to form a new arrangement.

I would love to hear from you. How do you practice mindfulness through your art? What are some of your favorite exercises?

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