Wendy Ann Greenhalgh - My creative mindfulness journey
Like all children I loved to draw and make things. And as soon as I could read, I devoured stories, and started to write my own in notebooks too. But it wasn’t until I was a teenager, and suffering from a period of chronic illness, that being creative became really important.
One day, lying in bed overwhelmed by boredom, frustration and anxiety, I stuck my foot out from under the duvet and on impulse, drew it. And I felt so much better for it that I carried on making art and writing until I was well again – and I didn’t stop then.
Drawing my foot was a turning point, because that day being creative became essential to my happiness and wellbeing.
It was the day I became an artist.
Exploring Creativity and Mindfulness
In my early twenties I started going to yoga classes and eventually encountered mindfulness practice, the other great discovery of my life.
I went off and studied for a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Creative Writing.
I worked professionally as an artist, illustrator, photographer, performance artist, filmmaker, story-writer and poet.
I read a lot of mindfulness books during this time too, and went on meditation retreats and lived in a dharma community.
Then I became a teacher – and I brought mindfulness to this practice also.
As an arts educator and creative writing teacher I’ve supported hundreds of adults, children and families in enjoying and developing their creativity. I've lead workshops and courses in schools, colleges, adult education centres and art galleries, and I’ve worked with arts and culture organisations all over the UK.
I first taught mindfulness and meditation in 2003 as an English teacher, working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
Finally, in 2010 I founded Art of Mindfulness to facilitate workshops in meditation and creative mindfulness and to develop and share my Stop Look Breathe Create practice.
My Mindful Art Practice Today
Mindfulness practice and creative practice have been the two loves of my life, mindfulness teaching me more about creativity, creativity teaching me more about mindfulness. They are my passion.
I find my creative practice goes in cycles, sometimes writing, sometimes drawing, sometimes photography or mixed media to the fore - but mindfulness is the one constant. You can have a look at some more of My Art here.
Stop Look Breathe Create developed out of my own creative mindfulness practice and I continue to use it to write, draw and take photographs, sharing them on my social media most days.
With 20 years experience as a professional creative and committed meditator, I’ve learned to be mindful of creativity blocking thoughts and beliefs, and befriend them kindly.
Most importantly, I can honestly say that these inner-voices don't stop me, only lead me towards greater self-compassion and deeper insights into the workings of my own mind.
Simply put, I believe that we all have an extraordinary – possibly even limitless – natural potential as human beings for compassion, creativity, joy, wisdom and peace.
I believe that creativity and mindfulness are two ways through which we can begin to realise this potential for inner freedom and wellbeing.
I’m enthusiastically committed to this in my own life, and to supporting you to find it in yours.
Header Image Credit: Photograph of Wendy Ann at Family Mindful Drawing Workshop by Freddie Brinkworth Photography