Mindful writing about mindful drawing. In this short, poem-like, piece of mindful writing, I've attempted to describe what mindful drawing means to me, and what my process is about. I'm pretty good with words, but trying to describe a non-verbal, and often non-dual experience with the duality of language, of object and subject is a difficult, though very enjoyable challenge, in itself. Perhaps that's why I got so fascinated with the fact that drawing is both a verb and a noun. Anyway, I thought I'd share it here to mark the half-way point of the January 2018 Mindful Drawing 30 Day Challenge, and would love to hear how you experience mindful drawing too... if you can find some words for it.
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.
Here's a little story for you... The other night I was working on my BIG red tangle drawing, for what I thought was the last time. After months of work I wasalmost finished, and I'd had very clear ideas in my head for some time about the last things I needed to do to finish. I could see it oh-so-clearly. So, confidently and boldy I DID it.
THIS IS NOT PRETTY. We don't have to create pretty, just TRUE, dear folk. As true as we can. Being true is mostly not pretty. No pretty colours to put on our Insta. No resolved or finished either. When is life ever resolved or finished? When is a drawing? Mindfulness for me is about showing up every day and being truthful. THIS is what is happening. THIS is my experience. I'm being as truthful as I can with myself...
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).
Some of the #blindcontour drawings I've made in the last month immediately after meditating. I've decided to do another month of mindfully exploring mental and emotional states in relation to my experience of being embodied. As always this is about process not end results, about seeing, breathing, connecting with the moment - and enjoying myself enormously by just playing
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.
This is the first time I’ve done a live interactive webinar, and I’ll be talking about creative mindfulness, what it is, how we can practice and leading both a live guided mindful drawing meditation and a Q & A. Now’s your chance to try creative mindfulness in action and ask any questions you may have about it.
This morning on social media I saw posts about things I could do to help the civilians of Aleppo, but they didn’t seem enough. This morning I crouched, naked, vulnerable, and I thought about the mothers crouched in that city with dead children in their arms, the families crouched trying to shelter from the bombing. This morning I thought of women crouching giving birth. This morning I thought of all the things I might do that didn’t seem enough – and I made art and I tried to show up for the grief and the helplessness I was feeling. But it still wasn’t enough.
So I decided to do this… I decided to do #artforaleppo. And I’m going to ask you to help me do it too. We’re going to do it. They say artists are dreamers, so here’s what us dreamers are going to dream up. It’s simple – we’ll use social-media to auction our art for the people of Aleppo. It doesn’t matter if there’s only 1 of us or 1,000 – because I believe that even a little bit of compassion, empathy and action can make a difference in the face of suffering.
Here’s what you can do to be part of #artforaleppo
This month features Wendy Ann Greenhalgh. Wendy Ann is a writer, artist and creative mindfulness teacher. She has been practising mindfulness meditation for twenty years and has worked with hundreds of people, helping them to rediscover their natural capacity for creativity and mindfulness. Wendy Ann is the author of Mindfulness and the Art of Drawing (Published by Leaping Hare Press) and teaches with the Mindfulness Project in London. She blogs on creativity and mindfulness here and shares her own creative mindfulness practice on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more information about Wendy Ann, visit here.
Mindfulness is one of the most radical things we can do in our lives because in practicing it we open to all the guilty, fearful, hidden places within ourselves and gently allow ourselves to experience them, letting whatever it *is* just be as it is – in the moment. It’s radical, because in the open space of mindfulness nothing need be hidden, ashamed, belittled or judged. It is radical because it transcends boundaries and barriers of gender, race, religion, age and sexuality. It is radical because it isn’t done to gain approval, assert power or pretend wisdom. It is radical because it’s done for no other reason than to know ourselves better, accept ourselves better, to become intimate and friendly with every experience we can possibly experience. And in doing so, we are so much more able to do that for those around us too.
“What I discovered was that the practice of mindfulness meditation evoked the same responses from me that drawing did.”
Here is a short exert from the interview...
Like many artists before her, Wendy Ann Greenhalgh finds the process of producing creative work to be a deeply mindful process. Health and well-being journalist Kate Bermingham spoke to Wendy about how artists and mindfulness practitioners can benefit from blending these practices.
I’ve just been visiting my family in Cornwall. A few days away made a little space in my head for writing other than the all consuming final draft of my novel. And as I sat in meditation each morning – and also sometimes in the afternoon too – short poems formed around my very vivid, direct experiences of the places I was in, the people I was with.