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Breathe, Relax, Paint

Some people think painting can be a form of meditation. I'm inclined to believe they are correct.

The reason painting is like meditation, is that during the painting experience, when I become completely absorbed in what I'm doing, I enter an altered state which is very similar to that of meditation. This I know, because I have both painted and meditated for many years.

Let's take a look at some of the scientifically measured benefits of meditation -

  • it reduces stress

  • controls anxiety

  • promotes emotional health

  • lengthens attention span

  • may help fight addictions for some people

  • some types of meditation may particularly increase positive feelings and actions toward myself and others.

  • improves sleep

  • can decreased blood pressure

  • helps control pain

There are two kinds of meditation - focused-attention meditation and open-monitoring meditation. Painting and drawing fall into the first category, where I focus my attention on a single object, thought, sound, or visualization, ridding the mind of distractions. The meditation process may also focus on breathing, A mantra, or calming also often used. There are actually many meditation soundtracks and guided meditations available these days on line for free.

Painting or drawing is a very focused process and because it actually gives my mind something to do, it enables me to enter that meditative state where conscious thought is suspended. A lot of the painting or drawing process takes place on a subconscious level, while at the conscious level you are absorbed in the activity of mixing paint or comparing values or colours.

It is said that mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time and the painting and drawing process fully utilizes this ability. Not only that, but it also uses a lot of right brain activity, operating in the alpha state which relaxes us.

The alpha waves fall in the middle of the brain wave spectrum.

Your brain produces these waves when you’re not focusing too hard on anything in particular. Whatever you’re doing, you’re probably feeling relatively calm and relaxed. These waves measure between 8 and 12 Hz. And the brain produces more of these type of waves when meditating.

I believe that painting falls somewhere between intense concentration and meditation. The type of concentration is different to that required when doing a rote familiar task. There is also another vital factor here which is not present during meditation and that is the Creativity Factor.

Creativity is a function of the soul and unfortunately these days many people don't have the opportunity to exercise this really important part of themselves. Painting and drawing offer people this connection to a deeper part of themselves.

I find it interesting that many of my students often remark at the end of class, how quickly the class went. The reason for this is because, when I immerse myself in the creative process time has no relationship to the reality that I'm experiencing.

Meditating woman
This feeling of weightless joy can also be attained through both creativity and meditation.

Image: Girl on log - Foundry Co from Pixabay

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