Tag Archives: meditation

Art and Spirituality

There has been a long relationship between art and spirituality. Early civilizations used art to make sense of events around them. It was also a way to record the culture of the time. Over time, the various civilizations and their spiritual life evolved.  Art became the means of expressing  their spiritual, philosophical and cultural concepts.

A Balanced LifeThe action of creating the artwork was and still is a deeply rewarding endeavour. When an artist connects with their inner self they  are able to bring forward insights and themes in the images for others to appreciate and to reflect upon.

Furthermore, the action of creating the artwork is a meditative and often spiritual experience can lead to an inner understanding of self.

Meditation

By using meditation as a precursor to an art therapy session, the conscious mind is stilled and in this stillness, there is the opportunity to access the subconscious mind with less resistance.

A short, relaxation meditation provides a safe and supported place for you to enter into a quiet space.  Whilst in this space, you can create or produce images that come from your subconscious mind. So too, the process can lead to creative problem solving.

A Blank Mandala to download and enjoy.

Creative Flow

So what is creative flow? Creative flow can best be described as a relaxed state of mind that has been brought about by focusing on creating an image or piece of art work.Creating or colouring in mandalas are an ideal way to achieve this.

Benefits other than creative flow are:creative flow

  • distraction
  • detachment
  • self reflection

By engaging our senses – visual and kinaesthetic – we are able to enter into a meditative state.  The action of colouring in, as well as engaging the mind in selection of the colours, helps us to distract the conscious mind. In turn, this allows the subconscious mind to create images that may represent previously forgotten conflicts or traumas. These can then be interpreted by having a discussion about what meaning the image has to you.

During the course of a therapy program, you may well discover that as you experience this creative flow, you also become more aware of strategies that help you to reduce your stress. With stress reduced, you will enjoy more self awareness and able to better focus on daily tasks.

Grief

Using Art as a therapy during a time of grief allows you to express your thoughts, feelings and emotions. This can be done in a variety of non verbal ways such as painting, drawing or clay work.

Other non verbal ways of expression, such as journaling and letter writing that help define what the event or deceased person meant to you allow you to start the healing process.

Guided visualizations and  Reiki can help relax you.  As you allow the body and mind to relax you can begin to sort out conflicting emotions. Therefore by using art therapy activities, your healing takes place at a deeper level and many people find that they are better equipped to move forward.

Contact

You may contact me by filling in this form any time you have any questions or need professional support. You can also fill in the form to leave your comments or details for contact.

* Indicates required fields

Enter your name:*
Enter your E-mail:*
I am wanting more information about:
Type the characters you see here:

Mind Body Connection

Eastern traditions have long been more aware of a mind/body connection than the modern Western medical profession which has based much of their thinking on the theory put forward by Descartes who was a French philosopher in the 1600’s. He believed that the mind and body were separate entities which had no influence on the other.

Modern medicine is a reflection of this, and is shown by the desire to remove symptoms of an illness rather than addressing any underlying mental/emotional issues that could contribute to an illness. Compare this to traditional Eastern healing systems where illness is considered to be an imbalance in the energy (Qi or Chi) which in turn affects the mental/emotional and physical body systems.

Western science has since discovered that the impulses to the cells can be affected by either negative or positive thoughts, thus having an effect on things such as immunity and health. Previously thought to only be present in the brain, these neurotransmitters have been discovered in other major organs such as the heart and gut. A regular meditation practice can help to still the mind and help with general health. Checking in on your thoughts and changing or reframing them to a more positive attitude will also help. For instance if you find yourself saying “I should…….”, change the language to “I choose to……” and notice the difference.

Challenge

5 Day ChallengeThe challenge of creating something that doesn’t add more stress to one’s life! Having printed out an outline of a heart to fill with words or lines to complete this five day challenge, I reached a blank.  I was also at a stage  where I had to meditate on the Heart Chakra and create a photo collage for an assignment in my current studies..  A challenge, to say the least, until I re-read the question.  The photos could be of places, pets or words that elicited a heart felt response.

When looking up what the opposite of a challenge could mean, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the following words came up….agree, decide, win, answer, acceptance, peace … fitting in beautifully with the essence of working with the Heart Chakra.  I was further amused when I consulted a text on Chakras to find that the hexagon (yesterday’s challenge) is its symbol. 

five day challengeAs a result, the time selecting the photos for the assignment meant spending some time delving through old files.  In addition, reflecting on why I chose each photo and explaining the emotional attachment took longer than expected. Unsurprisingly, many of the photos are of places that I’ve experienced a deep sense of peacefulness and belonging. Included is Lucy the labrador – representing  the unconditional love that dogs exhibit to us.  Because of the synchronicity of tasks, I have decided to use the photo collage rather than lines or words.

Hexagon

The hexagon

five day challengeDay 4’s shape  for the Five Day Challenge is the hexagon. A six sided figure, the hexagon is found in nature from bees to bubbles.  In man made items such as nuts and bolts to tessellated tiles it is used.  Snowflakes are based on the hexagon and perhaps the most easily recognizable group of hexagons are to be found on soccer balls.

Even items we use on a daily basis are constructed using the hexagon.  Most pencils will have six sides…. go ahead and count if you doubt me! Modern use of the hexagon can be found with mobile phone towers constructed  in a hexagonal grid – hence the term “cell phone”.

Today’s shape took a while to come together

I dusted off my compass and protractor and set about to construct a hexagon.  After a couple of tries and much rubbing out of pencil lines, I eventually got the shape right. Then to fill the shape….. pleased with the pattern that emerged, I then allowed my conscious mind to take over. Big mistake. I thought that I would “improve” the pattern by colouring in using the chakra colours.  From simple to dreadfully contrived in just a few minutes.

HexagonTake two…. now that I had the hang of constructing the hexagon, it was much easier to stay with a black line marker and see what transpired. With the addition of some compass work and very simple lines and shapes the following emerged.  Perhaps I could add colour, but it was relaxing not to have to think about which to choose.  It would be interesting to construct a series of hexagons and see what evolved from that.

From an Art Therapy point of view the benefits of “doodling” are that there are no preconceived ideas as to what the finished product will look like. It is a free form of expression and the shapes emerge from deep within the one’s psyche.

As it is a non verbal form of expression, the doodle literally can help you to “connect the dots”. It allows you to engage in sustained attention to a task without needing to create perfection or a recognisable image and is a useful tool for stress reduction. This is helpful in using art therapy as a means of unconscious expression.

 

Triangles

5 day challengeDay 2 and playing with triangles!

There is something about a triangle…. in fact there are many different triangle shapes – these are the main three….

  • equilateral – where all sides are the same length
  • isosceles – two of its sides are of equal length
  • scalene – none of its sides are of equal length

Five days, five different shapes to fill in with simple lines, both straight and curved – taking around five minutes to complete. It’s a mini meditation for you. No need to make it  perfect, it’s about focusing your mind on filling a space – not filling your mind with random thoughts. Feel free to post your creation on my Facebook page.

5 Day ChallengeUsing just a blue marker today and straight and curved lines to fill the spaces. Light blue is the colour of the throat chakra. The throat chakra governs the ability to communicate, to speak your truth and if you find that difficult, it means that this energy centre is blocked. If you are in lockdown and finding that you are eating unhealthy food, a mini detox diet may help in rebalancing your energy.

If you were drawn to a deeper, indigo blue then this is the colour of the third eye chakra. This chakra governs intuition, wisdom and your spiritual centre. When you find yourself overly concerned about what others think of you or having lots of negative thoughts, there is an imbalance. This can be rectified by releasing old thought patterns and habits. The Full Moon is an ideal time to be doing this. A regular meditation practice will also help to keep this chakra balanced. If you are into crystals, then a piece of Lapis Lazuli is considered helpful.

 

The Stress Response

In these challenging times I have been able to work with several groups (online) and deliver workshops that explained the stress response. Participants received tips and strategies for managing stress.

After delivering these Stress Management presentations some participants have asked for copies of the slides. I have a conundrum…..to share or not to share – that is the question. There are polarizing views about slide sharing. One is if you have put up a presentation, then they are in the public domain and should be freely shared. At the other end of the spectrum the viewpoint is that the slides are secondary to the actual presentation.

After a recent presentation some participants shared slides, regardless of permission, that they saved by taking screen shots. With this in mind, I am going to share some of the graphics here, taken from a variety of presentations alongside some of the commentary I used.

Managing stressThe stress response is elicited when we realize that we can’t control events. When this happens, we can often start to feel anxious.

In turn this can lead to a cascade of other emotions or behaviours.

Clearly  we need to have the appropriate tools and strategies to manage this response. Subconsciously our nervous system is on high alert as we look out for the risks in our environment.

Currently, many people are experiencing  fear regarding either their or a loved one’s health with the end result of the flight/fight or freeze stress response.

One of the first things I suggest is to develop a regular deep breathing session which helps to dampen down the effects of the stress response. Wearing a mask can anchor your emotion to your subconscious mind.  Therefore it is important to spend a few moments in deep breathing after removing your mask, so that you minimize your stress response.

managing stressThe next step is to acknowledge the problem and then to view it from a new perspective.

By understanding the phases that we go through during times of change, we can come to a degree of acceptance.

This is similar to the five stages of grief that Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote about in her groundbreaking work in 1969. Another helpful strategy is to use a Gratitude Journal. 

The stress response causes various hormones to be released in our bodies. The most well known are adrenaline and cortisol. These are released in response to a fearful or dangerous situation. Long term stress can impact upon your health. Stress lowers your immunity, increasing blood pressure and has an impact on your digestive system.

This is why it is so important to have strategies that you can use automatically when faced with a stressful situation. However, not all stress is bad. There is a flip side.  Eustress – when this is experienced, you get a flood of what I like to call “stress managementhappy hormones”.

By making sure you take time to look after yourself – remember when we could fly and the pre-talk was about using the oxygen mask for yourself first?

Meditation, being out in nature, exercise, eating healthy foods and love and laughter are all key elements how you can get these “happy hormones” and manage your stress response.

 

Contact

You may contact me by filling in this form any time you have any questions or need professional support. You can also fill in the form to leave your comments or details for contact.

* Indicates required fields

Enter your name:*
Enter your E-mail:*
I am wanting more information about:
Type the characters you see here:

Quality time

quality timeHow do you define quality time? I would define it as time where your focus is on that special person. It’s about being present, in the moment and holding space for both you and the person you are spending time with. Quality time can be a planned event or happen spontaneously.

Think of a friend that you haven’t seen for some time either because of distance or time constraints. During the time that you spend together – are you present or paying attention to your phone? If it is the latter, then you are not spending quality time with them.  Even if you have put the phone away and you still have the “monkey mind” chattering away, you are not present.

Spend quality time with those who are special, important and love you as much as you love them.*

Spending time with those who are important and love you as much as you love them creates the memories that carry you forward when they are no longer with you or you with them.  The memories I have of my grandparents are still vivid as when I stayed with them, they were present and paying attention to me.  Hearing Claire de Lune on the piano, takes me immediately back to Granny playing the piano.  Likewise, I pay attention to my grandchildren when I spend time with them. We play with cars, with blocks, create cubby houses out of blankets  and when I do bring my phone out (to take photos)  the 3 year old admonishes me, telling me to put the phone away!

Staying focused and being mindful can be learned either through coaching, meditation or Reiki. Giving a Reiki session to someone who holds a special place in your heart is the ultimate in quality time.

*The fifth of Five Steps to a Better You in 2020 – Steve Miller.

Spend time alone

At least once a week spend time alone. Reassess your life and take appropriate action that puts you first. Fuelling the focus on you means that you will have more to give out.

The fourth of Five Steps to a Better You in 2020 – Steve Miller.

spend time alone and listen to the whispers of your soulIf you are an introvert, you need to spend time alone. It makes no difference if you are partnered or not, this time allows you to recharge and reflect on what is important for you. Even if you are an extrovert, time spent alone can be productive. How you spend this time alone is crucial.  If you are spending the time perusing social media, this is not the most productive way to spend time alone.  Frittering this time away on tasks that could be done later means you are depriving yourself of quality time.

When you spend time alone meditating you get so much more. Herbert Benson’s study into meditation (The Relaxation Response) showed that meditation increases creativity and productivity. Age is no barrier to a successful meditation practice.  Just the other day I was teaching a six year old in the HeartMath coherence technique, so that he can differentiate between relaxation and the need to be constantly entertained.

When you spend time alone and put yourself first, make sure you dismiss any thoughts of being “selfish”.  Remind yourself of the airline safety message (that many tune out to) about using the oxygen mask first before you try to help others. Treat your time spent alone as your oxygen mask as if you have nothing left, you cannot help others.

What makes you really happy? Are you living a compromised life and have left your dreams on a shelf – or under the doormat – as you follow along with what others want to do? Spending some time alone – fulfilling your own dreams nourishes your soul. Being alone does not necessarily mean that you are lonely and you may discover that you are happy with your own company.

Many years ago, I backpacked solo around Japan, visiting temples and shrines that I had read about. I also went to Hiroshima and as an empath was greatly affected by the energy there. Intuitively I knew that I needed to spend time alone. Going to the island of Miyajima for a couple of days to reflect and reassess was invaluable. This time alone allowed me to re-calibrate.

These days if I need some time alone, I will wander off to the labyrinth and walk the circuits and meditate a while on the swing seat. Soaking up the energy of the labyrinth and the surrounding trees is like getting a recharge before returning to the hustle and bustle of the city.