With mental health coming to the forefront of public consciousness, the practice of mindfulness has become a recurring topic of interest and discussions all around the world. Mindfulness or meditation is not a recent invention but is a practice that is centuries old. The history of mindfulness can be traced to the ancient roots of Hinduism and Buddhism. At its very core, mindfulness is the act of finding stillness within yourself and staying with that for a period of time. Letting go of all your thoughts, emotions and notions while embracing the stillness of your mind and soul and existing solely in the presence. There are numerous meditation practices of varying lengths that help you discover and cultivate mindfulness in your life which can easily be found online.
It has been well documented and rightfully publicized the numerous benefits mindfulness has on our psychological health and the healing that it provides to our psyche and emotional wellbeing. There are numerous studies that show us the incredibly positive effects of meditation on stress reduction, focus, memory retention etc. With the toll that the global pandemic has taken on all of us, we find ourselves in the midst of a mental crisis that we can only recover from if we start making use of such essential tools that are at our disposal.
I have already written a separate blog on art therapy and its numerous benefits, however in this blog I would like to explore how we can use art as a meditation practice to instil mindfulness in ourselves and strengthen our self-connection. As a contemporary artist myself, I have always been fascinated by the cerebral and intuitive nature of sitting down with a piece of paper to channel your inner emotions and thoughts and transforming that blank page into an artwork. This very act can be used to practise mindfulness and it has become a branch of art therapy itself, aptly called Mindfulness Based Art Therapy (MBAT) or creative mindfulness.
There are numerous ways that you can enjoy the benefits of art healing and most of them just involve a drawing pad and minimal art supplies. Economical and convenient, you practically have no excuses to not take part in some art therapy and find your higher self. Here are some exercises that you can try for a MBAT session at home:
- Pull out a drawing pad and a pencil. Plant yourself in front of a mirror, take a long look at your reflection and really examine what you look like: your skin, your hair, your eyes, your facial features. Now go back to your pad and start drawing your reflection. Stay in the moment, do not erase or scratch out any stray lines that you might have made. You should just focus on the point of your pencil and the picture that you have in your mind of your reflection. No other thoughts should be indulged in. Once done, take a look at what you have created but do not focus on how accurate it is to your reflection, but think about how you feel looking at a self-portrait of yourself and how you perceive yourself.
- Ever notice how a child can spend hours playing with a little tub of Play Doh? They roll and poke the Play Doh around, creating characters and shapes summoned from the depths of their imagination. This is something we adults can use. Get a piece of Play Doh or clay in different colours and sit down at a table for some quite art meditation. Start rolling around the clay or maybe even mix the different coloured clays together, focussing on the texture and shapes you are creating. You should not try to create something specific, the goal here is to stay in the moment and immerse yourself with the sensory simulation that the clay is providing you. This will allow you to be present and evoke mindfulness in yourself.
There you go. Just two simple exercises to get you started on your road to creating art and instilling some much-needed mindfulness in your life. I have personally experienced the soothing benefits of having a daily practice of creative mindfulness. It has helped me keep myself level-headed and my creative self away from a potential burnout. These are simple habits and practices that we can adopt to improve our mental health and enrich our lives. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get that drawing pad and get going!