It’s easy to come up with things in life for which you are grateful when everything is going okay. When you’re experiencing equilibrium and homeostasis, thoughts of blessings just bubble up and practically write themselves into your gratitude journal. But what about those times when your pain level is inching ever closer to the top of the 1-10 scale, or it just seems like everything in your life is falling apart?
Do you feel better physically when you acknowledge those things for which you are grateful? Does being thankful have an impact on your sense of well-being?
#gratitude #gratitudejournal #wellbeing #blessings #grateful #thankful
Have you experienced a physical or emotional change that seemed to come in a flash? Has listening to your body brought you insights or visions that have had a life-altering effect?
Or has your transformation been a more gradual process? Does intuition play a part?
#transformation #flashofinsight #newvision #process
Have you recovered after a physical, mental, emotional, or social disruption in your life? How are you progressing from surviving, to thriving? Have you experienced personal growth after a misfortune or a major change in your life?
Do you ever look back on how far you’ve come on your journey? Are there benefits to be had by periodically doing a “life review”? What has body listening given you, in hindsight?
#journey #youvecomealongwaybaby #lifereview #hindsightis2020
Topic: Mindfulness practices
This topic is to discuss other mindfulness practices that are not movement-based. This distinction between movement and non-movement is of my own construction, partly to try to organize the discussion and partly because of my own approach to mindfulness. As I mentioned in our previous topic, my first incorporation of mindfulness was through an introduction to yoga and tai chi about 15 years ago. When my movement became seriously limited with pain more recently, my desire to continue mindfulness work led me to explore more sedentary practices.
I have come to enjoy meditation, particularly guided meditations using a Youtube video or audio recording, and regularly use progressive body scans to calm and relax my body and mind. Progressive scans are my favorite practice, and I try to combine them with a breathing technique. In additional to relaxing me, these scans help me read my body and identify areas where I need to focus on releasing tension. Emotional Freedom Technique has come up before in our discussion of subtle energy, and it’s worth mentioning again here as it has the same qualities as other body awareness/mindfulness methods. EFT can be a helpful method for calming the mind and body together.
I think at the heart of any mindfulness practice is breath, and the effect of measured deep breathing on the mind and body. There are several breathing techniques that I’ve learned about. Just yesterday I was taught about a technique to alternate blocking one nostril and breathing through the other for deep breaths to calm down the mind and help fall asleep.
There are an abundance of ways to practice mindfulness, and it doesn’t take following a strict methodology. I would love to hear about how you practice mindfulness and which techniques you favor. How did you learn and choose a type of practice? Did you create something yourself that works best for you? How to do you incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life?
#mindfulpractices #progressivebodyscans #emotionalfreedomtechnique #breathingtechniques
A Deeper Knowing
There is so much you can do with expressive art! This week has just been a tidbit, a little taste to entice you to continue making intuitive and expressive art on your own to develop and enhance your ability to listen to your body.
Hang your finished artwork together. View the grouping; rearrange it to make it pleasing to your eyes. It has come from the deepest, most sensitive, and wisest part of you. Breathe, and allow yourself to be guided by the knowledge it has to offer.
We are living in a fast-paced, hustling, busy world and I realize you probably don’t have much time to spare. I designed most of these activities to be completed in about 15 minutes; some, like the paint blots, take less than 5 minutes. If you can set aside 15 minutes a week to make some intuitive, expressive art, you will witness a shift in how you feel about yourself, your life, and the world around you.
Find a space – the kitchen table, a corner in the family room, a quiet nook in your bedroom. Set up your supplies before you go to bed the night before so you don’t fumble away the time looking for things. Put on some music and set your timer for 15 minutes. Then draw, paint, sculpt – whatever comes automatically from within you. At the end of 15 minutes, stop. If you are “in the flow” and you have more time available then or later, you can continue or return to your art. Make it a priority to schedule 15 minutes for expressing yourself through art each week.
Having this outlet to express what is inside – even things you can’t articulate, or of which you might not be aware – goes a long way towards creating inner peace and a deeper knowing of yourself. You will be “freeing the artist within”, the part deep inside of you that longs to be heard. Give yourself this gift – you deserve it.
Gail Brightmon Moser
#adeeperknowing #innerpeace #freeingtheartistwithin #15minutesaweek
Topic: Activity: Experience Freedom
We are going to go back to kindergarten today. Do you remember the freedom you felt when finger painting as a child? If you didn’t get a chance to go to kindergarten, or if you never did this kind of art, this activity is for you!
Art in kindergarten is not about making masterpieces, it is just about making art. This whole week of guided art exploration is about the process. There are some guidelines, but very few rules – it is about using art as a vehicle for self-expression and letting it vocalize, symbolically on your behalf, what you might not be able to communicate or articulate in words.
Let’s get back to the time when you didn’t think about whether you were good at making art, you just did it. If we put four- and five-year-olds in a room with crayons and paper, they will just start drawing. They won’t ask what they should draw or how to do it. They won’t be worried about what the other kids are making or whether their drawings will be as good. And soon they will just be in the moment, playing with color, and line, and shape. The kindergartner’s mind is where we need to start, for today’s activity and every time we make intuitive art: we are just playing with color, line, and shape.
Our only goal today is to make expressive art by tapping into our intuition. There are no mistakes. We are using inexpensive materials and working without unrealistic expectations.
But finger painting isn’t just for kids. Did you know that there are some professionals who create work with oil paints, using their fingers? Artist Iris Scott is one of them. For grown-up inspiration, watch this 2-minute video showing her process:
Gotta love the dog! Here are some examples of finger painting from students in my Kindergarten for Grownups workshops. They were painted either with both hands, or with the non-dominant hand:
Music for today’s art activity is a compilation of tracks from various animated films.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your paper, your paints, fire up the playlist, and start painting. Use both hands, or your non-dominant hand. Use whatever colors appeal to you and paint whatever comes to you, whether a representation of a real object, or an abstraction of a metaphor in your mind. Or just have fun squishing the paint through your fingers and on the paper. There is no wrong way to finger paint. When you are finished, hang this artwork and spend some time with it to receive its message.
Take photos of your artwork, then post here about your experience. What was it like to paint with your non-dominant hand, or both hands? How do you feel about the sensory experience?
#fingerpainting #gobacktokindergarten #process #nondominanthand #usebothhands
Topic: Activity: Experience Release
I’ve entitled this activity “Experience Release”. It could just as easily be called “Pour Your Heart Out” and “Go with the Flow”. The idea here is that we will thin our paints and pour them onto the paper. Then, rather than manipulate the paint with a brush or other tool, we will move ourselves and the paper in order to move the paint. By pouring and tilting we will create a unique painting that can only be made in this manner. We will find that there is only so much control we can exert over the movement of the paint, which is a sort of metaphor for life. By pouring our heart into the painting, allowing ourselves to be flexible, and then going with the flow of the paint, we symbolically experience release.
This mechanics of this activity are simple – choose your paint colors, dilute them with water to a pouring consistency, and pour them onto the paper. Then, tilt and turn the paper to create washes and rivers of paint. Add colors and watch them mix and marbleize on the paper. Make a game of trying to keep all of the little rivulets on the paper and see how that feels in your body. Finally, let go and allow the paint to run off the paper. Notice how much less tension you experience in your body when you give up trying to control the movement of the paint. The larger the paper, the more physical this activity becomes, and the greater the experience of release at the end.
Hang this painting with your other expressive and intuitive artwork from this week to make a mini-gallery. Your collection is sending you a message about what is taking place in the undercurrent of your life, and in your body. This is information you already possess; it’s just on a deeper level that you may not have been able to access easily. Relax, and take it all in.
#release #pouryourheartout #gowiththeflow
I usually don’t make an explanation for this exercise. I just tell the class that we are going to listen to some music, and they will make marks with their charcoal sticks on the paper based upon how the music makes them feel. I know they are thinking, “Okay, this will be easy (and maybe boring)”. Then I break out the blindfolds! I give one to each person and tell them that they are going to have a mindful experience, focusing their awareness on the present moment; noticing the sensations in their bodies, their thoughts, and their emotions. They will listen to four different songs and experience how the pace and velocity of their mark-making changes as the music changes.
And that, my friends, is what we will do today – make marks on paper to music. Sounds simple enough, right? Assemble your supplies: a piece of paper, and something to make marks on the paper. Oh, and a blindfold – it can be a bandanna, a scarf, or a piece of fabric that is narrow enough to fit over your eyes, and long enough to tie around your head.
I really like to use pieces of compressed charcoal for this because you can use the tip as well as the sides; but you can use anything – a Sharpie, a pencil, any kind of crayon, even a gel or ballpoint pen. For the paper, you can use any of the substrates shown in yesterday’s post called “A Note about Paper”. I think it is fun to use a large sheet, like 18” x 24”, so you have room to make expansive gestures in response to the music and what is going on inside of you. But a small piece of paper will work, too – the marks will just be denser because there is less space for them.
Did I mention that you will use both hands for this? We’re going double-fisted today! So you will need TWO writing instruments. They don’t have to be the same. So for example a pen and a pencil, or a Sharpie and a crayon will work fine.
Set Your Intention, Not Your Expectation
Before you begin this activity, set your intention for what you would like to gain from the experience. This is up to you and can be anything: a 15-minute mini-retreat just for yourself; clearing a currently stressful idea from the front of your mind; or releasing the anger that is trapped in your muscles. You can use this method to express your feelings about chronic pain, your state of health, or other issues in your life. This type of mark making is all about the experience; it is a vehicle for self-expression and it can even vocalize, symbolically on your behalf, what you might not be able to communicate or articulate in words.
Here is the 15-minute Spotify playlist. You can download the free app onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Be sure to queue it up before putting on your blindfold.
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST LINK:
I hope you will find today’s art exploration therapeutic and revealing. Post here about your experience, and upload your artwork!
#markmaking #blindfolded #mindfulexperience #doublefisted #miniretreat #selfexpression
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