Creating Art as a Meditation

Meditation is good for the soul. It can be an escape from the stress of a busy hectic life. About 7 years ago I went to a workshop to learn how to meditate. I thought there was some special way that it had to be done. I struggled with making my mind settle down, to stop the constant jibber jabber. That jibber jabber was my mind constantly telling me this and that, sending me back in time to regrets or forward in time to worries. I was not living in the present.

The workshop was wonderful. I bought a guided meditation on CD to meditate with. It helped me to focus. Closing my eyes and listening to the speaker and soothing music helped me. At times, even with the CD, I still struggled and found my mind wandering off to some worry or concern. I learned that practice helped and meditating got a little easier as time went on. Or maybe I just wasn’t as judmental of my practice.

The funny thing is that I did not realize that you could meditate in other ways.I had it in my head that you had to be seated, eyes closed, music playing, silence…….. Then I realized I had been meditating years before going to that meditation workshop.

I knew when I went into my studio to work on a painting I would sometime lose blocks of time. I would be so focused on the brushwork, the color, the values, the texture, that hours would pass without me noticing. Sometimes when I stopped painting, I would realize I had been painting for hours when I thought I had only been in the studio for minutes. I also noticed how relaxed and refreshed I felt. My mind had traveled to another place where there was no time. I called it my “Happy Place.” I figured that I had switched over to the right side of my brain, allowing the time conscious left brain to shut off for a while. I never considered it to be meditation.

When I was teaching art full time I had my students do a project that seemed to do the same thing with time. The students were asked to create an abstract painting using watercolor, salt, saran wrap, crayon, splatter, etc. When the painting dried, they were told to use a marker to outline the shapes and lines that appeared on the painting. The students loved the project, the art created was beautiful, and my classroom was amazingly quiet during the process. The kids got so into the line work, looking for the shapes within the painting, that they lost their desire to talk or worry about when the bell was going to ring. It was so refreshing and the students asked to be able to do this type of work often. There was no pressure, no concern about whether the work was representational or not.

Then I discovered doodling. A friend gave me a beautiful leather bound sketchbook that I wanted to draw in. I wanted to do something in the book that would be worth holding on to. So I started doodling in it with marker. Using the marker required more focus. I could not erase my mistakes, so if I made a mistake, I had to change it to something else. At first I just created random doodles, then I progressed to creating actual drawings in the sketchbook. I could sit at night and draw in the book as my husband watched television. I started carrying the book with me when I traveled. I found that I needed to sketch in that book. Doodling in that book was something that needed to be included in my schedule at least several times a week. I realized I was meditating when I was doodling.

Now I am experimenting with painting as a meditation. I will be writing about that in the next few weeks. I  joined a group that is doing a painting a day as a meditation for 21 days. I plan on writing about my experience with this process. I will keep you posted.

I’ll leave you with this thought:

You can meditate in many ways. You do not have to be seated, legs crossed, humming “ommmmm”.  Creating art through painting or doodling are two of my favorite ways to meditate. More later.


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