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How Can Art Enhance The Experience Of Meditation?

By “Jackie Writing Jackie”

Meditation and mindfulness are vital practices embraced by Buddhists, owing to their ability to keep the mind on the eightfold path, as well as the many benefits they bestow on human mental health. If, in the past, meditation was seen as an ‘alternative therapy’ practiced by Buddhists and members of specific faiths, today, up to 500 million people of all ages, beliefs and backgrounds practice meditation as a way to battle stress, improve their mood and focus, and feel more connected to a force that is larger than themselves. In order to enhance mindfulness during meditation, many tools are used – everything from selecting natural settings to choosing calming aromas. Art, however, can also boost the state of being ‘in the here and now’ and serve as a practical tool during meditation practice.

Art Creation And Presence

There is a reason why art is often chosen as a complement to many therapies, ranging from treatments for depression and anxiety to those for substance abuse recovery. Art is a deeply mindful pursuit by nature, as it calls upon the creator to take countless decisions with respect to aspects such as light, shade, perspective, size and color. Professional artists often say that when they are in the process of creation, they can lose track of the hours, as simply being and creating take the lead role. The good news for those who wish to create art in order to hone mindfulness is that you don’t need to be a skilled artist to make significant and lasting gains mentally. You can start off by drawing simple shapes such as a hamsa or a very simple mandala with the help of round shapes, compasses and rulers. Before mastering the hamsa, you might start by sketching your hand. Indeed, hands are an excellent subject to draw to boost mindfulness because the shape is relatively simple, yet there are many details within hands (lines, folds, veins, vessels) that you can spend many hours capturing in detail.

Art, Emotions And Mindfulness

Art engages people on a multisensory level, helping them to connect with their inner thoughts, feelings, and repressed emotions. Mindfulness meditation encourages people to accept all these aspects (even negative emotions) without judgment or repression. However, these aspects can be hidden in the subconscious, and art can help bring them out. In art therapy, creators often discover new aspects about themselves that can help them comprehend obstacles to personal growth and progress. Art serves as a means through which creators can hold internal discussions, but also talk about emotions and feelings with others.

Art Appreciation During Meditation

Individuals find many roads to mindfulness, and art can be one such path. In the Heart Sutra, Buddha said that “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” Works of art can be employed to comprehend the idea of emptiness – for instance, sculptures with holes or spaces. By appreciating form as well as empty space, we can comprehend the beauty and sacredness of all things. Individuals can meditate on a form or on its spaces, increasing their ability to remain steady and centered.

Art and mindfulness are intertwined, since art in itself can help strengthen the ability to focus and keep the mind present in the here and now. Those who are stressed and find it difficult to concentrate can create art as a way to understand the bliss of giving oneself to an activity, without thinking of past regrets or future concerns. Works of art, once completed, can be meditated upon, and they can serve to remind one of the way that things can change significantly depending on how we perceive them.


Ed. note: In addition to the wonderful ideas Jackie shares here, there are many traditions of Dharma art alive in the Shambhala community. To read more about some of those traditions, click here.


After taking a career sabbatical to become a mother, Jackie now writes full time on topics ranging from health and wellness right through to news and current affairs. She has, in the past, battled problems with anxiety and panic, and in her spare time she volunteers for a number of local charities that support people with mental health issues.

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1 response to “ How Can Art Enhance The Experience Of Meditation? ”
  1. Gerrit Gosker
    Dec 25, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you
    For your Inspirational


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