Practicing mindfulness in our everyday lives can deepen our experiences, whether it's through a regular meditation practice, yoga, or even making and viewing art.
When we are looking to create any kind of meditative state, we are looking to create a space where we can be fully present in the current moment, connect with our internal voice, and find the Universal "flow" that is always there but that we don't always feel connected to on a conscious level. A key element to any meditation is often connecting first to our breath. Bringing awareness to our breathing helps us start to find our internal space and gives us something subtle, yet active to focus on. If we begin there, we can use it as a starting place for any kind of mindfulness practice that we want to incorporate into our lives.
There are many ways to meditate...with imagery and visualization, using a mantra (a phrase or sound repeated multiple times), through chanting...sitting in stillness. You might find a meditative quality using a movement form like yoga or dancing. Tapping into your creativity through making art is another way to connect with your internal guidance to find a flow state.
When we use art as a meditation, we can view and manifest our intentions in a different form outside of our "thinking" minds, connect with our spirit and observe how it is inspired to flow through us. In a way, it's contrary to how things often happen, where we take in external stimulus from outside ourselves, and have to process it to incorporate internally. When we make art using elements of mindfulness and finding flow, we do the opposite...we look internally first, moving away from external distractions and then put something out into the external world that comes from our intuition, our creative heart, our soul.
(Photo credit: Swati H Das)
One easy and fun way to start using art as a meditation practice is by making a mandala. Mandalas can be sweet and simple or involved and intricate, it's all up to you. The element of repetition built into the creative process lends itself to a mindful awareness and an open door to your individual, personal expression. Anyone who wants to try this can, either on your own or through a Mandala Meditation workshop or class. If you are trying it on your own, take time before you start to connect with your breath for a few moments, then find an intention for your mandala. You can pause at any time during the making to take some breaths and meditate to stay in flow with your intuitive spirit. You can use that process to determine what shapes, what colors you'll use by letting your inner guidance lead you through it. Whatever you end up with will be just perfect, as it is an expression of YOU! And if you do it more than once, you may notice it's quite different each time as you will be creating from the current present moment and that is always changing, even in our internal world.
Viewing art can also be a way to experience mindfulness and meditative self-reflection. In addition to focusing on our breath, another component of meditation practices involves noticing how something makes us feel. When we are viewing art at a meditation, the idea is to focus solely on the artwork in front of us and observe any reactions we have to it. Depending on the art piece, we may feel calm and peaceful, or we might feel moved by compassion, sadness, joy, uneasiness, or some other feeling. We may also not feel anything about it, which is completely fine too. Holding space within ourselves without any judgement about the reaction is how we can deepen our awareness through observation.
What are some ways you can create mindfulness in your everyday life? Try finding some stillness and focusing on your breath for 2 or 3 minutes at anytime during your day, especially if you're trying to work out a problem or determine how you feel about something. Checking in with yourself, and not judging what comes up might just bring you the insights you're looking for. And if they don't happen right away, trust that the Universe is listening and always on your side.