Mindfully connecting with ourselves and with life. What does it mean to you to be intimate? Not just intimate with your partner, or with close friends or family - but intimate with life? When do you feel that tenderness and closeness that comes from real intimacy? That's something I've been reflecting on a good deal this month, as I've begun work on a new series of drawings I'm calling 'Breath Diary', which require long periods of mindful drawing with the breath.
We can mindfully choose our reality. I've been very aware once again this week of how art sustains me and how beauty sustains me. For me this isn't about escaping from reality though, but rather reminding myself that there are other realities right here and right now, and that how we use our minds, look at and think about the world, our life, our relationships is the reality we perceive.
Creating mindfully every day, The wonderful thing about 30 Day Challenges is that they get us motivated, encouraged and determined to practice every day. But what happens when the 30 days are over? Do we: 1) Drop everything instantly and go back to life as normal? 2) Or do we continue to practice daily for a while, and then find ourselves losing momentum and enthusiasm until our practice peters out? 3) Or do we manage - somehow, we're not sure how - to keep it going, most days for ... well, the rest of our lives? I think the second scenario, despite best intentions, is probably the most common - so this blog is all about how to make scenario number 3 more likely to happen.
Start your new year with a boost of mindfulness, creativity and community. You can't beat mindful drawing for calming the mind, relaxation, self-care and inner peace - which are all things we tend to need in BIG doses after the whirlwind of the holiday season. And if making resolutions to be more mindful, and more creative in 2018 are upper-most in your mind, then there's nothing like doing it with others to help you follow through and actually do it! Community around our creative and mindfulness practice is so very important for helping us to stick with it, stay encouraged, and enjoy it too.
At the moment I'm trying to practice the art of no expectations. What's that, I hear you ask? Let me explain. ... You see recently I started a new creative project - the next Stop Look Breathe Create book, in fact. (Woop! I'm very excited.) And I am, as we always are at the beginning of new projects, full of enthusiasm and expectations. This book's been brewing in my head for a long time and inevitably, along with all the sensible and necessary planning (how many chapters, what kind of structure, what practices) there's been a certain amount of rose-tinted daydreaming too. Which is all pretty normal for us human beings, and we mostly recognise these kinds of expectations for what they are, fantasy, but still it's good to be mindful of them.
HOORAY! I'M TAKING OVER THE OCTOPUS BOOKS INSTAGRAM ON SEPTEMBER 1ST FOR A 1 DAY MINDFUL DRAWING CHALLENGE. I'll be posting a morning (8.05am), lunchtime (12pm) and evening (5.20pm) mindful drawing exercise from my Stop Look Breathe Create book on the Octopus Books Instagram Feed on Friday September 1st - and I'm encouraging you to join in and make it a day of peaceful, mindful #stoplookbreathecreate. (All times are UK/UTC+1).
This is a recording of a Live Facebook Stream to the Art of Mindfulness community to celebrate the launch of my new Stop Look Breathe Create book. For the drawing activity you will need:
1) A pen or pencil and paper 2) Some things to draw which have interesting textures and shapes. E.G. Shells, seedpods, stones, a hairbrush, cheese grater, or house-plant. This is a one hour creative mindfulness class: 15 minute introductory meditation; 10 minute talk about mindful creativity and the Stop Look Breathe Create creative mindfulness practice; 20 minutes of guided mindful drawing activities; 10 minutes Q and A.
Come and join me LIVE on the Art of Mindfulness Facebook page on Sunday 16th July. I'd love the chance to spend an evening with you to welcome new people to the Art of Mindfulness community and celebrate the launch of the new Stop Look Breathe Create book. During the one hour mindul art gathering on Sunday 16th July - I'll be live video streaming as we join together for some Stop Look Breathe mindfulness meditation, do a mindful drawing exercise from the new Stop Look Breathe Create book, and finish with a Q and A, where you can ask your questions about creative mindfulness and I'll answer them.
I realised I was holding on too tight, to the past, to a loss of confidence in my drawing that I had never recovered. So I stopped fighting. Just as in my meditation practice, I stepped up to the drawing paper with no expectations and no ideas. I did just what I felt like. I went bigger. I opened up my diaphragm and my arms, I let my wrists relax and my pen run free. I drew something easy and familiar that I see everyday – myself. I'd found my mojo and it set me free.
Recently I had been looking for ideas on how to integrate creativity into a year long mindfulness class that I teach for HIV positive women who are dealing with many life stressors. I came across STOP-LOOK-BREATHE-CREATE on Facebook and signed up for the three week challenge to learn about Wendy Ann’s approach. I loved the quality of the short tutorials and the guided meditations which were based on the same principles I was familiar with, however, using meditation to facilitate creativity was a new discovery for me!
“Am I doing it right” is a familiar inner voice for me. So of course this has come up for me before and Wendy Ann's advice to me during the Challenge helped me to laugh even more at the ridiculousness of the inner critic, the “Oh so Unwise but Ever Trying One". She said something like “that is the inner critic and it has as much value and significance as if it said, you are a purple elephant.” A picture of a purple elephant is quite figural for me at the moment!
The Stop Look Breathe Create book will be on bookshelves soon
And to celebrate my new creative mindfulness book – I’m launching a new FREE three week creative mindfulness course you can do online and at home. It starts on the 5th of June and I’m inviting the Art of Mindfulness Community to do it TOGETHER between the 5th and 25th of June (2017) as a follow up to our Mindful Drawing Month. Here’s how it works…
Every day I go for a #stoplookbreathecreate walk. And I take photos with my iPhone. By the end of the month there are quite a lot of them. For each I follow the easy 4 step Stop Look Breathe Create process. At the moment I’m getting to know the almost-human tree neighbours in the park next to my home. I love how their bark is so skin like. Here are my favourite 9 tree-skins from March.
It’s done! The new Stop Look Breathe Create book has officially been handed over to my publishers and will be out it in the UK and USA in June. It is looking – absolutely beautiful. I’m thrilled with it and I hope you will be too. I’ve spent ten months writing and illustrating it, and it’s been an exciting but also challenging creative journey that’s really pushed me out of my comfort zone (something all creative journeys should do).
Every day I go for a #stoplookbreathecreate walk. And I take photos. By the end of the month there are quite a lot of them. For each I follow the easy 4 step Stop Look Breathe Create process. Here are my favourite 10 from December.
we’re always coming from somewhere – going somewhere, there’s always someone waiting, which is why I use a mindfulness practice I call #stoplookbreathecreate. It works like this, wherever you are, wherever you’re going – slow down – pause – Stop. Look – notice what’s around, look up, look down – listen, smell, feel, taste it too. Breathe – breathing in and out we’re just here, present in the moment.
As we develop our practice of mindfulness, we start to notice that much of our emotional landscape is habitual, we take that path towards a certain feeling again and again. So too, thoughts, the same one, over and over. One of the great gifts of mindfulness is the space it offers to notice familiar currents of thinking or feeling and change them