As a mindfulness practice and stress reliever I recently took up abstract painting. I was messing around with exercises provided by an online class when a friend asked, “Are you having fun?” to which I unenthusiastically replied, “Sort of.”
The process was frustrating at times. My projects were not resembling anything like the seemingly effortless and elegant examples of the instructor.
But I started to loosen up and gave myself permission to mess around, have fun and experiment. Then I stopped. I paused the videos, took a breath, and stepped away. I let the paintings rest while I blotted my forehead with a warm compress of self-compassion. When I returned to my work, I could see areas of the paintings I thought were surprisingly interesting and pleasing even to my critical eye.
I learned so much in the process and managed to salvage some wonderful compositions which I cut out to be used for cards, bookmarks, and studies for future larger pieces.
Creating anything is an exercise in adapting, adjusting, and trusting the process. Forcing never helps. Patience is always needed. Flow is always available.
Mindfulness is never about doing something perfectly because it is not about doing or accomplishing at all. It is about allowing things to be as they are, resting in awareness, and then, taking appropriate action when called for. Silence, deep listening, and non-doing are often very appropriate responses in particularly trying moments — not a turning away at all, but an opening toward things with clarity and good will, even toward ourselves. Out of that awareness, trustworthy skillful responses and actions can arise naturally, and surprise us with their creativity and clarity. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
REFLECTION: Where in your life could you practice loosening your grip, allowing a more natural unfolding of things?
Lisa Wellington is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher who writes about integrative practices that downshift stress, increase insight, and jumpstart joy.
She is best known for her work with law enforcement professionals as well as those challenged by housing instability and addiction. Trained in the Fine Arts at Washington State University, she specializes in group training that engages participants’ inherent creativity.
If she is not under a stack of books about psychology and spirituality, she can be found at a Puget Sound beach or nearby trail, always searching for the absurd, which is her superpower.