I get asked by many people to explain what I mean my mindful drawing and so I thought I would use a blog article here to do so.
Now I use mindful drawing and doodling personally as a way to relax, re-centre and get back into a creative frame of mind. It’s something I do daily and I work in various ways to simply put pencil to paper and make marks or doodles. It’s very much about the process rather than the end product. When I am doing some form of mindful drawing exercise regularly I do notice that my mind feels less cluttered and stressed, I find creative solutions to problems quickly and I generally feel grounded and more connected with my own mind.
However, to explain mindful drawing properly I would firstly like to explain what Mindfulness is and as a yoga teacher as well as fine artist I feel that I can hopefully shed a little light here.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply being aware or bringing attention to the present moment – a practice of observation without judgement. It is a conscious direction of our awareness to the current moment in time. The aim is to calmly acknowledge and accept one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Mindfulness can be developed through the art of meditation or other practices. In the case of this article, I am talking about entering mindfulness by carrying out drawing or doodling.
Although simple in concept, being entirely mindful is quite a hard state to achieve. Our minds are very busy and hundreds of random thoughts pop up within the space of just a few minutes. Learning to let these thoughts pass and not actively think on anything except for the present moment is what mindfulness aims to do.
Many people aim to achieve mindfulness through meditation – sitting quietly and doing nothing but being aware of the present moment. However, lots of people, meditation can be very hard to access this way and by carrying out a simple repetitive task (such as drawing), mindfulness can prove easier to achieve.
Drawing as Mindfulness
As a printmaker, artist and lover of all things craft I have always found entering a mindful state achievable by doing activities such as carving into lino or crocheting a row of double crochet stitches – and drawing is the same. The hands are busy and the mind just begins to switch off, shut down all the random thoughts and instead focus on the present moment. People also achieve mindfulness by doing yoga, focusing on breathing exercises or going for a mindful walk. A mindful drawing exercise is one that helps you to bring attention to the present moment in time by focusing on what you are drawing – the sound, smell, feeling of it, what you can see etc.
Key Elements that Make Drawing a Mindful Practice
To make a drawing exercise mindful it is important that you stay in the present moment. You don’t think about the past (“I have never been good at drawing”) or the future (“what will this drawing look like?”) but simply remain in the here and now observing the sensations and experiences of the current moment. You pay attention to all of your senses – sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste. You take time to slow down and observe. I would for example listen to the sound that a pencil makes as it moves across the page, the sensation of my fingers holding the pencil, the speed at which I draw or the light and warmth in the room. I find it helps for me to choose a sketchbook with paper that I like the texture of and a pen or pencil that I like the feel of in my hand. I slow down, I draw with no plan of what I will draw – the drawing just develops.
When you open up your sketchbook and pick up a pen, you aim to quiet the mind and simply remain in the present moment – observing and not judging. Non-judging is often quite hard to do but an intrinsic part of a mindful practice – don’t judge your drawing and where the pen goes. There is no wrong! The finished product doesn’t matter – what matters is the process of drawing and that you stay focused on the process of drawing itself over anything else.
Benefits of Mindful Drawing
Well there are so many I could almost write a separate article on this alone, but to summarise:
– Helps you to reconnect with the simple moments in life
– Brings a sense of peace and enjoyment
– Re-kindles your creativity
– Reduces stress and anxiety
– Get back a little more me-time
– Helps you to get confident and comfortable holding a pen or pencil
– Gets you filling your sketchbook!
One lady who studied my recent mindful drawing course said that:
“I can already feel the different parts of myself reconnecting. I have been looking for something to ground me and bring me some peace to release my creativity which has long been obscured by the rat race life has become. This is been the perfect start to what I feel is now a lifelong amusement.”
Mindful Drawing in Action
If you want to see me doing a little mindful drawing just check out the timelapse video below. This is a technique I use called Doodle Dots and one of many different techniques that can be used for mindfulness. I also regularly draw mandalas which you can read about in my previous blog article How to Draw a Mandala.
Mindful Drawing Course
To read more about the course or join today please visit:
Further Reading on Mindfulness
Here are a few recommended books should you wish to read further into mindfulness and other mindfulness practices:
Mindfulness – A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World
The Little Book of Mindfulness
There are plenty more out there if you want to read more on the topic.