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Image of a person painting a mindfulness picture at table


Over the past couple of decades, mindfulness has been increasingly spoken about and prescribed throughout the globe. Many people, including myself, are being introduced to mindfulness exercises by therapists, teachers, carers and so forth. Yet this practice is not at all new. Mindfulness meditation and exercises have most probably been around for as long as humanity has. Though a “renaissance” of having to protect our mental and emotional health has now come about, due to 21st-century Western society finally waking up to the fact that mindfulness is extremely necessary. It’s a sad coincidence that depression, anxiety disorders and even cases of suicide have peaked more than ever; now that society has reached a stage where material achievements are valued more highly than self-compassion, allowing ourselves to have moments of personal joy, and looking after our health overall. The challenges of our lives in the current era of certainty can fill over a year’s worth of individual blogs!

Since 1993 (when I was three years old) I’ve been receiving fortnightly therapy for my anxiety, and there are countless mindfulness exercises I have been introduced to over those three decades. As every person is an individual, many different kinds of suggestions for mindfulness are given, and we figure out which ones work for us from the process of trying each of them at least a couple of times.

The first thing that comes to mind when many of us think of mindfulness, is that it solely involves meditation and/or breathing exercises. Yet despite many being available that do involve meditation, there are also other ways of practising mindfulness. Doing artwork is one example.

In truth activities which could be termed as artwork are vast. But the reason why visual art (that of which is intended to be aesthetic to someone by sight or purely and simply seeing) is mentioned in the following paragraph is merely because it’s an activity which I myself do. Though I must say that I wish I had the motivation/time to practice all the other forms of art additionally, as they are equally beneficial for a person’s mental and emotional health.

paint covered hands

Whenever I do artwork, I am essentially bringing my inner self and thoughts into the open world. I do this via drawing, colouring and creating many places on Minecraft. The way this happens is that I simply use feelings of sensory overload/anxiety as energy to just create. Indeed this is purely a stimming and mindfulness activity. It’s perfectly true that whilst I’m creating I don’t have a conscious idea of what I exactly want the end product to be! All I do is bring an image to paper or screen which is on my mind during the spur of the moment. Given that, a piece of visual art takes a stretch of time to complete and that my thoughts/feelings change very often, it means that the end result isn’t apparent to me until I finish the project. Yet afterwards when I examine every completed piece, my personality and inner world come into view, and this happens unintentionally.

I will now rap up this blog by connecting these creative activities that I do to the meaning of mindfulness. Whenever we do a meditative exercise, one has to learn just how to centre themselves and breathe in the correct way. This is the exact same for visual art activities. Once we learn techniques of how to draw, paint or colour it then essentially becomes a mindfulness exercise for us to apply them.

As an end note I will also add that it’s important for me to avoid doing a creative activity with the intention of having a fancy result to share or show off afterward. Every time when I have had that intention the activity hasn’t been calming at all, and in fact I have never on those occasions actually completed the project.

It’s always 1000x easier for me to have the intention of it purely being a mindfulness exercise and to not care about what it looks like to other people at the end. I can only ever complete a piece of artwork when I strive to impress my own senses instead, rather than trying to gain approval and praise from somebody else. If it reveals something that is very personal or embarrassing I just don’t share it publicly. Or if the piece gets lost or destroyed afterward, it’s only the relaxation benefits of what I gained from creating it that ever matters.