Art practice: A mindfulness tool.
Ignacio de Grado
Art has been part of human evolution for centuries. It can be generally understood as a manifestation of creativity, imagination, and uniqueness, expressed visually, in writing or through any other medium.
In this post, we will refer to the practice of art, not necessarily from a professional level, but simply as a powerful mindfulness tool.Why is art a great mindfulness transformational tool?
It is a creative practice
Art is a practice where we put our creativity into action. Creativity at a professional level is something that takes a long time to make it work, but if our approach is simply to create something as a mindfulness exercise, anyone can do it. Creative practice from a mindfulness standpoint should be a relaxed exercise, without many expectations, just allowing our inner self to manifest with some brush strokes, writing a story, sketching something, or simply using a pencil to capture the reality we have in front of us.
The practice of art is also a testament to our uniqueness, how each person can create something completely distinct from others and connect in new ways. From a mindfulness point of view, we regard art as a transformational tool, among other techniques, to increase our awareness, capacity to be more present, and our ability to observe without judging.
Art can be a mindfulness routine that puts your mind at rest
We are currently living in a phase of self-expression when it comes to the practice of art at the school, cultural, and professional levels. This means that abstract, experimental works, play a leading role, and while traditional classical techniques are still used, they are considered an old-fashioned creativity-killing practice. Although there may be some truth to this assertion, routine elements are always part of artistic practice, especially in more detailed works.
When you engage in a repetitive art activity, such as simple color filling within shapes, your mind rests because it is not a demanding activity. These kinds of mechanical activities are excellent mindfulness tools to relax the mind, like a kind of active meditation. The goal of art as a transformational tool is not to engage in complicated activities, but simply to use the practice of art as an awareness process that disconnects us from our ego.
Connects us with other human beings
Art connects people. Originality, uniqueness, and innovation are concepts we humans are attracted to. Sharing an artistic hobby with other like-minded people creates healthy environments. Sharing your artwork is a manifestation of collaboration.
It can act as a talent trigger
Art is not only a transformational tool but also a way to show our true selves and uniqueness - how each of us is different and how we all have the ability to create. But more important from a mindfulness perspective is caring about the mindfulness process of art creation.
Introducing artistic practices into your life can also be a great way to trigger an ability you are unaware of. Maybe you've never tried writing before, and when you do, you realize that it opens up unexpected modes of expression and new potential paths in your life, even for a life-changing process. Immersing yourself in various artistic practices such as drawing, painting, sculpting, filming, photography, etc., can open up unexpected inner connections and hidden potential.
Makes you better observer of the present
Artworks also improve your observational abilities and make you more present. This is true whether you are observing your own work when you are creating art, looking at your finished artworks, or observing other people's pieces. Each of us reacts differently and feels different things. Just observing an image or reading a book can completely change your life, as you become more aware and benefit from the work of others. A good mindfulness exercise is to observe your artworks when you are in the middle of the creative process or when they are just finished. Take your time and observe. Don't pass judgment and see how your inner self reacts. Use these calm observational moments as a kind of active meditation.
Possible art practices
If you don't practice art often, it's really important not to be too ambitious at first with the activity and the level at which you choose to practice. As we said before, from a mindfulness perspective, it is much better to use art as a tool to transform, as a process, not aiming for a highly accomplished finished piece of art. Just play some music, grab a piece of paper and some colored pencils and draw. Pick a canvas and experiment with colors. Create some geometric shapes and color them in, being very present and aware of the tools you are using. Breathe, observe how the pencils create marks, and add colors. Listen to the sound of the brushes extending the paint, and allow for time and silence in your practice.
All GRADO cards are created with handmade illustrations. Our founder and creator, Ignacio, uses his card creations as a mindfulness process itself, combining art with text and letting experimentation play a big role while avoiding too much influence from outsiders.
The OJAS and Live a Fulfilled Life decks are our more artistic card sets.