Stop Look Breathe Create 3 Challenge - Nina's story

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Nina Thorne from Long Island in the United States took the 3 Challenge. Here's her story.

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!

Although I had initially planned to use the learning in STOP-LOOK- BREATHE-CREATE for teaching purposes, I became very interested in exploring my own creative process mindfully.

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Mindful Drawing and the Inner Critic

As a meditator I am familiar with unwanted guests that arise in the mind, especially the inner critic, the doubter, and the inner voice that suggests that "you are too busy to be doing this right now.” In Buddhist psychology we call these guest “hinderances;” in Carl Jung’s psychology they belong to the shadow side of our psyche, and from a neuropsychological perspective they are well-established neural pathways and habitual patterns of perception. While theses guest visited me from time to time during the creatives challenges, the joy and pleasure of creating softened, and at times, silenced their impact on me. Especially, I saw a need to “let go” not just in drawings but in life in general. There was great satisfaction in taking a mindful, creative pause during the day and allow creativity to arise and flow. Without a doubt, I am planning to continue to use the creative pause in my personal mindfulness practice in years to come.

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Mindful Drawing for groups

I taught my first class in mindfulness-based creativity just one week ago. Our practice was a body scan, with everyone sitting at the table, allowing the movement of the breath to guide the pen across the paper. We followed with a round of QiGong to feel the body moving mindfully in space. Afterwards, we created a large group drawing, using the movement of the breath and body to draw circles of self-compassion and subsequently, circles of compassion for group members and the larger community of beings. This was a very joyful session and my students have asked for more.

Creative Mindfulness for stress, trauma and illness

Mindfulness practice can be challenging, especially for individuals who have experienced trauma, live in stressful life circumstances, or experience significant physical pain. After the creative challenge I found myself wondering whether mindfulness-based creativity which fosters curiosity, joy, and creative agency may be more helpful to some individuals than opening “to what is” through traditional meditation practices. Based upon my observations the creative exploration coupled with mindfulness added a sense of lightness to my group that was great to witness.

My gratitude goes to Wendy Ann and to the inspiring, creative individuals I encountered in her online group.

You can take the #stoplookbreathecreate 3 Challenge at anytime. Sign up for your free course materials here.

Nina Thorne, LMSW, Long Island New York
Social Worker, Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher and Evidence - Based QiGong Teacher (EBQ certified)