Mindful art practice

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Mindful art practice …New to me but ancient to the world.

Graceful,beautiful, calm and at one with the natural world. So many of the fellow journeyers I have met on my creative journey are being drawn to an awareness of the spiritual side of their art. To each it means something slightly different that brings peace,meaning and form to their work. For me it is the call of nature and the gift of childlike eyes to view it through. Walks take longer and the photo file goes bigger as I wonder at the beauty around. On the easle it informs the colour, shape and movement that I try to bring to my art. Looking back I can feel this intensity towards nature in my childhood memories.mNo surprise perhaps for I find that most of my learning recently has involved ‘unlearning’ negative adult thoughts. How wonderful it is to return to childhood happiness!

 

Finding and maintaining positive mental health is a hot topic currently- and for good reason. You don’t have to have experienced a personal crisis to understand the damage that depression, stress and anxiety do to us. Our pace of life, pressures of work and high personal expectations have seen to it that adrenaline storms round our body leaving us in an almost constant state of ‘fear or flight’. Consequently we can all get burnt out on occasions and that haunting feeling of not matching up to goals or standards lingers around us.

For some time creativity has been recognised to counteract emotional pain.  If an explanation for art’s positive effect is needed, some say it works through neuroscience – increased levels of chemical connections in our brain. Others say it is a worthwhile distraction,  or  that involvement and connection with something builds self confidence. Perhaps it is just sheer happiness! However the effect is achieved -for many including me 😀 – it is glorious. Of course ‘no one size fits all’ and patience is required to find a way into something creative that is achievable, meaningful and theraputic.

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My journey to this point in time

Pills, potions and lots of talking therapy have brought me a long way in my recovery but now it is time for me to add a new acqisition to my mental health wellbeing ‘tool box’. Believe me, that is SO hard for an ex pharmacist to say!

Only recently has it dawned on me that I have not spent the last four years in limbo, frustrated and making little progress. No, I have been in recovery, where pills and talking therapy have been my mainstay and only option. Perhaps I have been waiting for the right time. As my art therapist says, I have been sitting with things as my brain processes and working through my ‘stuckness’. But that, friend, is a tale for another time. I have purposely kept my blog contents to my current journey. I am happy to discuss how I got here over on  my Facebook page.

I have this growing feeling that my time to fly is now. ( wow- did I just say that? So unlike the old me!) This then is the overriding reason for me to blog. It helps me to record strategies and work through my feelings . I am exploring my way slowly in my fledgling creativity. Yep, I feel just like the penguine chick in the wild life programmes, edging to the cliff top and the only way to the sea is to JUMP.Here goes …….

My Positivity ‘tool kit’

I am certainly not going to claim that strategies take me from the bottom of my dark pit and leave me leaping and dancing. That would be lovely but as anyone who has experienced poor mental health, loneliness or grief will tell you there are days when you just have to recognise where you are and hang on with the only expectation as making it safely through the day- to start a new again. My husband and I are always taking pictures of sun sets and sun rises. I don’t think it is just the beauty which draws us to them. There is something magical about the putting to bed of one day with its unique memories and the dawning of a whole new day crisp with expectation and untarnished by events

Photographs

Oh, have you noticed I use a lot of photos? They are everywhere- and not just digitally. A little while ago I made up a multi photo board from years back and stuck it in the hall. Everyone stops to talk about the memories it raises for them. Now I have three more- oops! It is fun though- even the act of looking through boxes of old snaps not seen for years is therapy in itself!

Affirmation cards

-using happy snaps and a basic text adding app. Wow, it is amazing how powerful photos are at evoking memories and feelings. What are your positive emotional triggers?image

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This picture by kind permission of bigwoffa

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bought or homemade affirmations

Sensory treats

Science records plenty of examples of smells stimulating our brain eg the old supermarket marketing aid – using an instore bakery to tempt us us to buy more goodies when we are foolish enough to go shopping while hungry ( me sinical … Maybe! ) .  For the same reason I often like to have a favourite smell close buy in stressful situations and  keep a jar of my favourite hand cream in the car to use just before going to a meeting or event.

I love to collect stones to reinforce the happy memories I have of walking on favourite beaches. Today I have decided to turn my prized stone collection into an indoor water feature. Double bonus- a reminder of my favourite beaches accompanied by one of the world’s most relaxing sounds- running water.

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Also excellent inspiration for therapeutic creativity. Wetting the stones is like turning on a lightbulb- suddenly all the colours and patterns take on deep beautiful hues.

I made these abstract pieces after a recent trip to the beach and plan to refresh my beach inspiration using the water feature.

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Light and Nature

I owe the idea for my next wellbeing project to a good friend a Kerry and her sister. Both are talented creative artists and seeing their amazing South African nature  glass bulbs displayed beautifully on twigs inspired me to display the ones I purchased from them using drift wood and pebbles – such tactile materials that bring warmth and joy to the worst day!