Who would have thought that drawing and meditation would go together? The inner child having a conversation with a grown-up and seeing how crayons can unburden a busy mind. Drawing (especially with crayons) is like going back to your roots to a phase of ‘unlearning’. This is not something grown-ups do especially well when there is always this need to learn quickly or come to a solution immediately. But transformation is often more about unlearning than learning and, who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of a transformation?
Transformation doesn't happen when we're stressed, it happens when we are relaxed. Meditative drawing can help to embrace the inner child in a complicated grown-up world. An outlet for releasing stress, even if it might look like chaos on the page – all those colours, shapes, scribbles, doodles and whatever else comes naturally from your intuition. The most important thing is that it gets out. It’s the process of unraveling, processing, learning, checking in with yourself, self-inquiry, reflecting and practicing inner calm like it’s an instrument you want to get good at playing.
Grown up are not good at slowing down the pace. Taking more child-like steps is not something we, as grown-ups, like to do. While children discover one thing at a time, grown-ups are all about multi-tasking and trying to keep going like a Duracell bunny on long-life batteries. When you start to really look at grown-up behaviour and inside yourself you also realise that being in a rush doesn’t let you develop your imagination and all those child-like qualities like curiosity, awareness, discovery and, fun which is what we give up in our grown-up world (after all we have no time for such frivolities).
See what your stress looks like on paper. We're so busy feeling our stress that to look at what our stress looks like is a strange (and rather compelling) thing. I mean, have you ever thought about what colour your stress is, what shape is is, what does it feel like to give your stress an identity and featured in all its glory onto paper. Now that really is letting go.
How to encourage meditative drawing
For meditative drawing it’s best to sit straight with a relaxed spine. This way you are more alert, and you can easily grab your pencils, crayons or whatever materials you decide to use. Make yourself comfortable in a quiet relaxed space and let your eyes close. Take a few moments to focus on your breath and let each breath relax you more deeply. Allow your hands to rest on your lap, with your palms facing upwards.
If your mind starts to wander then notice whether you’re thinking, hearing or feeling. Then go back to the breath, imagining inhaling peace and exhaling any tension.
There is no time frame so if you feel relaxed after 5 minutes then prepare yourself for the drawing part.
Here are a few suggestions of what to draw;
Intuitively – When you open your eyes notice which colour pencil/crayon you are drawn to and start drawing whatever shape or pattern you feel intuitively to draw. You may even feel like doing this with your eyes closed so your inner critic doesn’t come out. Notice how you feel when you free-draw with no idea of what you are drawing. Notice the thoughts you have while you are drawing and write those down. Reflection is an important part of the drawing meditation.
Your favourite song – Alternatively, you can try drawing to music that has a particularly meaning for you. A song which conjures up particular memories. This is an interesting one to do with your eyes closed. Notice how you feel when that song plays. Can you translate that feeling on to paper? Projecting feelings onto paper can be rather insightful.
Using a prompt – Before you meditate write a random list of words that come to mind. For example; happiness, balance love, relaxation, anger. Then have your list in your hands and during meditation (without opening your eyes) randomly point at a word. Use this word as the focus of your drawing. Asking yourself questions while drawing by placing your chosen word into questions such as; What does……..feel like? What does………feel like in my life?
And most importantly…. reflect – After you have done your meditative drawing it’s important to reflect and ask yourself questions such as; What kind of patterns do you see? How do you feel while looking at your work? Did you learn anything about yourself?
Reflections often come out naturally in drawing meditation. As one lady told me after I asked her why she drew a tree upside down with extremely long root; “It’s a reminder for me to take better care of my roots.” A good reminder it is too…for everyone.