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The Art of Mindfulness

Guest blogger Susan Day


Art and mindfulness are nothing new. While considered alternative or new-age practices, mindfulness is hundreds of years old. And of course, when it comes to art, humankind has been drawing on cave walls for longer. So, what are the benefits of combining the two, mindfulness and art?


Let’s take a look.


What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice you can do anytime, anywhere. You may even be doing it now. It involves paying attention to your thoughts and feelings. It also involves being aware of the sensations your body is experiencing and acknowledging them. Even if you are in discomfort and pain, going through the process of mindfulness can help create a sense of calm.


It is about being present in the moment and controlling your emotions. Have you ever known anyone who cries over the smallest things or becomes angry over seemingly nothing? That is a sign they are not in control of their emotions. In fact, they are acting impulsively, which is usually based on patterns of behaving and thinking they have had since they were teenagers.


When you are in control of your emotions, you can respond to situations with clarity, focus and a greater level of wisdom. You are calm in an emergency and see your own life in much clearer ways. You are present in the moment, accepting what is happening without judgement or trying to control matters and others.


Mindfulness has a great benefit for our mental well-being, as you can imagine. But did you know that it has a wonderful benefit for our physical well-being too? While it can improve memory, thinking skills, reduce stress and anxiety, it can also make us resistant to diseases.


How Do Mindfulness and Art Work Together?

When we create art while being mindful, we experience the process of creativity at a whole new level. We don’t just create a fabulous painting or an intriguing sculpture. In fact, it is important to remember that the end result is of little consequence in arts therapy. It is the process, the act of ‘doing’ that is most important. And, that’s where mindfulness comes in.

If we approach painting a picture while being mindful, we can immerse ourselves in the act of creation at a much deeper level. We slow down and pay much attention to what we are doing. We engage our senses and allow them to wash over us. We become aware of our emotions and what we are feeling.


Let’s take a look at the process of painting, as an example.


Mindful Painting

As you are mixing the paint, you notice the textures, smells and consistency of the paint. You revel in the colours and feeling of joy these sensations bring. As you dip in your brush, you take a long deep breath and really slow down. As you bring the brush to the canvas, you become lost in the brushstrokes and the sensation of the canvas yielding under the pressure.

You may feel happy or experience anger as you paint. That’s normal.


Despite whatever emotions rise to the surface, you are fully engaged and absorbed in the time you have spent painting.


This single activity doesn’t require you to talk to anyone or analyze your feelings. You are not required to feel exposed or vulnerable to another’s comments or judgement of you. Mindful painting allows you to spend time with yourself and treasure yourself during those moments.

Within just a few minutes, you will have begun a journey of self-discovery and self-reflection. Your subconscious has been given permission to reveal emotions and memories you may have forgotten. Sometimes, these might not be positive, but they are always transformative. If you continue, you will find yourself coming through negative feelings and being restored to your positive self.


Of course, you don’t have to be painting to achieve this. Any form of art including dance, singing, writing or clay making will help if done in a mindful manner.


The Healing Aspects of Mindful Art

There is little doubt that art has a healing power. It bypasses the need to talk or verbalize what we have experienced, which is fundamental for trauma survivors, children and for those who just don’t have the words.


When combined with mindfulness, the benefits are multiplied. Your creativity will be enhanced, you will find that your thoughts are clearer and your emotions steadier. You will have a deepened understanding of your inner self and your life will have more meaning.

You will simply be a better version of yourself.


When we embrace art and mindfulness on a daily basis, we are opening ourselves to possibilities that go far beyond our normal understanding. Best of all, the beneficial effects are long lasting and permanent.


Mindfulness and arts therapy are powerful tools for promoting physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. By incorporating these practices into your life, you will experience a greater sense of inner peace and emotional balance. You’ll also begin to enjoy life and have more meaning and fulfilment.


About the Author

Susan Day is an art therapist practitioner, author and artist. She has years of experience writing articles for websites and once edited a literary magazine. Susan is enthralled with the power of art and the written word to change people’s lives. You can find more articles on mindful arts therapy on her website,mindfulartstherapy.com.au, or you are welcome to check out her Mindful Art Therapy books on Amazon.


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