Mindful drawing is another great way to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is usually developed through meditation, breathing exercises or yoga, but I am here to tell you that there is another creative way to try it out. Drawing mindfully is done by focusing your attention on what you are doing. While drawing you slow down and pay attention to the activity in front of you. If you can’t draw, that’s okay. In fact this exercise is perfect for you.
So if you are like me and think that you cannot draw to save your life, let me share a few things. Being mindful means letting go of judgement, especially judgement toward yourself. When you start to draw mindfully you are fully focused on the present. You don’t think about whether you can draw or not, or what your picture will eventually look like, you simply doodle. The goal of drawing mindfully is to just be in the moment.
Mindful living is the new norm, but why? Well, mindfulness means becoming aware of your thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Ultimately, you are able to choose how you respond to things instead of blindly reacting to every feeling, thought and experience you encounter . Mindfulness empowers you to be more in control of your story. Mindfulness is achieved by becoming more present in your life, where you practice observation free from judgment. Its exciting really…
One way we can achieve this state is through mindfulness
When I first became interested in mindfulness I was attracted to the idea of becoming more in control of my emotions and how I react to them. The only problem was, I couldn’t sit still long enough to meditate. However, the more I learnt about mindfulness, the more I realized that there are so many different ways to practice it. Drawing and mindful colouring are some of my favorite.
Doodling is usually aimless scribble with no particular purpose. It can be abstract lines, geometric shapes or a series of lines and marks. Drawing takes doodling up a notch. It uses lines and marks to create something specific, like a picture or diagram.
When it comes to mindful doodling what you draw and the style you draw in is not as important, as your state of being while you draw. It is meant to be a meditative experience where you calm the mind and relax the soul. So, draw, scribble or doodle it doesn’t matter just make sure you follow the below guidelines when you do!
Before you start drawing, take a few deep breaths. Notice how you are feeling. Are you tense, stressed, happy or excited? Now pay attention to your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? From the moment you take out your sketchbook, you consciously try and quiet the mind and slow down.
Your attention is now focused on the smell, feel and sound of you drawing. Listen to the sound the pencil makes as it moves across your page. Smell the lead, the paper, the aromas in your room. Notice the sensations in your fingers while you draw, and how the light touches your page. The end product is not important, the aim is to just observe.
As you start paying attention you might become aware of how critical your thoughts can be. When I started mindfully drawing I was immediately struck by my negativity. I started judging how well I could draw, and how little I could concentrate. This is not helpful. So instead I decided I would just start mindful doodling. It did not matter what I drew or how. Be gentle with yourself – I told myself that being mindful is challenging and I should be proud of myself for trying.
Mindfulness shows us how to be gentle and compassionate toward ourselves. By acknowledging that I was doing something completely new, and by giving myself the time and space to enjoy the activity for what it is, my thoughts changed. Eventually I found that doodling calmed me and as a result my thoughts became more positive.
Being curious about what is going on in and around you is a mindfulness skill. Curiosity is not judgement. When thoughts pop into your head, observe them, and let them go. There is no need to hold onto them like a crutch. Instead of judging yourself and your drawing experience why not get curious about it. Ask yourself if there is anything interesting about your picture, is there something you have drawn that you haven’t before? Look at the images you have doodled with new eyes.
Once you have mastered the skill of being curious with your drawing you can use it to become curious about your thoughts, emotions and behavior. Instead of judging how you feel, think and behave you get used to inquiring about your experience.
When we practice mindful drawing and doodling we calm ourselves, but not to the point of mindlessness. Rather, the activity becomes an exercise of observing, studying and where our brain and body aligns its self as one. This process in and of itself separates the mind from daily distractions and stress.
Drawing is fun because it gives you the freedom to do whatever you like. You choose the style, the colours and the type of pencils or crayons you use, you decide if you want to draw on paper or not. Add a little brightness to your day and get creative – Go Crazy!
You don’t need any skill and it doesn’t matter what or how you draw and yet it still engages and stimulates the brain. Drawing teaches you to look at the world with a different lens and it encourages you to think outside the box. How great is that?
Often my random doodles represent something inside of me. Drawing often brings out my thoughts, opinions or beliefs and it gives me a chance to get curious about them. I also find that drawing becomes a safe space to release my emotions and it has a very calming effect on me.
In the busy world we live in, where there are so many things competing for our attention, drawing can give us that much needed “time-out”. Drawing can allow us to escape for a few minutes a day, its a place where we can put all our stresses aside and enjoy a blissful moment.
For those of you who are gifted with an artistic talent, mindful drawing can greatly improve your self-esteem and confidence. The more you practice, the better you will become, giving you a sense of pride and achievement.
The video below highlights some of the many benefits of doodling. In particular, the role it plays in how we think and process information. Take a look!
Drawing allows me to be creative, there are no boundaries or rules. I can just let myself go. I find drawing especially helpful when I am angry. Instead of blowing up at the person I am angry at, I get out a piece of paper and doodle. The emotional release I feel is immediate. Once I am calm, I can approach my problems responsibly. My mind has been given a break, I don’t react to my thoughts, I get curious about them and gain a wider perspective.