The goal of meditation is usually different for each person, but the essence of the practice is to connect the body and mind. Meditation brings awareness to the impact your breath has on your body: it oxygenates your cells and brings the mind into a state of quiet focus.
Meditation does not require you to sit still, and it does not require closed eyes or mudra hands. It can happen while you’re walking, lying down, sitting on a city bus, and while drawing, painting, sculpting, knitting, sewing, and other creative acts. Making art is another way to enter a meditative state of mind – and it can be an easier way to achieve this state of mind.
“Art is a guarantee to sanity.” – Artist Louise Bourgeois
Art therapist Jennifer Patterson, the instructor of “Creative Self-Care: Drawing as a Meditation,” which SkillShare.com offers, says, “Creative self-care is good for you because it can get you out of your head and into the present moment, helping to ground you and forget everything else for a few minutes.”
Even if you think you aren’t creative or think you can’t draw, you can still benefit from meditative drawing exercises. Set your self-judgment aside for 10 minutes and let yourself doodle!
The Richland Library in South Carolina has a great blog post that includes the simple mindful drawing exercise I’ve outlined below. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen, and 5-10 minutes to give it a try.
Let’s Get Started!
Take our your paper and pen. Any pen will work, and you can use any color. It’s best if your paper isn’t too large (so as not to overwhelm) and it’s blank.
Now, get centered: close your eyes, take a few deep belly breaths, and bring your attention within. You want to actively move your consciousness from outside of your body to your head, then down to your heart, and finally to your belly; if you don’t think you know how to do this, just pretend – that will be enough.
Step One: Draw a simple small circle, using the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise:
- Notice 5 things you can see.
- Notice 4 things you can hear.
- Notice 3 things you can feel on your skin.
- Notice 2 things you can smell or taste.
- Notice how you feel inside.
Pay attention to the whole process.
- Notice the way the pen hits the paper and the mark it makes.
- Hear the sounds of the pen scratching across the paper.
- Feel your hand moving across the workspace and paper. Relax any tension that isn’t serving the process.
- Smell the paper and the ink.
- Notice how it feels to make a mark.
Step Two: Repeat Step One again and again. Pay attention as you create each new circle. You’ll want to connect the end-point of each circle to its beginning point. Draw slowly and mindfully enough that you don’t miss this step. If you start to lose focus, pause, breathe and refocus on each little circle. Keep drawing, slow, sure, focused, and breathe.
Step Three: Vary your circles. Make them smaller, bigger, nestle them next to each other, spiral inward, then outward, and so on, while making sure always to close your circles, end to end.
Step Four: As you make circles, notice your thoughts and let them pass by for later. Let yourself focus solely on making the circles beneath your hand. Don’t judge or restrict your thoughts; just let them float through your mind and out again. The circles don’t have to be perfectly round, but they need to be complete – with each end connected to the beginning.
When you feel like you’re done, take a look at the finished work, remembering that the process is what mattered, not the outcome. Be gentle with yourself throughout the exercise, but especially at the end. Even if you couldn’t escape your thoughts or don’t like what you made, be proud that you did the exercise.
If it feels good to you to share what you made, I’d love to see it! You can post your circle exercise on Instagram and tag @helloarthatchery to connect with us. Thanks for doodling along today!