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Art and Meditation: Tools for Deep Self-Exploration

Olive Manx
Art and Meditation: Tools for Deep Self-Exploration

There exists a universal opportunity—a chance to take off on a trip within—in the peaceful periods of our existence, where the cacophony of the exterior world fades into a distant mumble. It is a journey that goes deep into the maze of thoughts and emotions, a quest of self-discovery that transcends time and space. We discover the keys to the treasure chest of our inner selves via the brush strokes of creative expression and the serene silence of meditation.

This isn't a mere adventure; it's an inner dialog with the unexplored corners of our hearts and souls. an intersection of stillness and passion, a dance between the canvas and the psyche. Join us as we enter this mystical world, where the canvas serves as a mirror and meditation as a guiding guru towards  self-discovery and deep personal revelation.

What is Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy (MBAT)

Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy (MBAT) is a treatment technique that combines mindfulness philosophy and practices with the expressive capabilities of art in a visceral way. 

Conceived by the well-established  psychologist and writer Laury Rappaport, this technique allows people to take part in a creative journey in which self-exploration takes center stage, all within the peaceful setting of mindfulness. You approach the artistic process with a careful awareness, allowing your inner world to flow softly on the canvas. MBAT has slowly acquired attention in psychology for its capacity to promote human growth, despite the absence of substantial study data, notably in regards to treatment and control groups,

It is commonly referred to as "focusing-oriented art therapy," owing to its emphasis on altering one's focus, which is based on Eugene Gendlin's therapeutic discoveries. 

Gendlin's study exposed the significant link between a client's bodily sensation  and therapeutic success, an understanding that MBAT has elegantly integrated. Mindfulness-based art therapy, in essence, acts as a bridge between the imagination and the body, allowing for the expression of feelings that words alone may struggle to portray.

Peer-reviewed Scientific Research 

Peer-reviewed scientific research shows that combining meditation and art has a wide range of psychological and emotional advantages. Meditation, which has its origins in mindfulness, has been thoroughly researched and proved to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms.

According to a review published in JAMA Internal Medicine (2014), mindfulness meditation programs offer intermediate evidence for treating anxiety, depression, and pain, but only low evidence for decreasing stress and well-being. Meditation has also been linked to greater attention span, improved emotional control, and general psychological well-being.

Art therapy, on the other hand, taps into the curative properties of creative expression. An art therapy intervention effectively decreased symptoms of anxiety and despair, according to a research published in The Arts in Psychotherapy (2016). 

Art helps people to externalize and process complicated emotions, providing an outlet for self-expression and emotional release. Furthermore, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Public Health (2016) found that participation in arts forms, especially visual arts like painting, abstract paint by numbers and sketching, was linked to lower stress and higher psychological well-being. 

Combining these methods into mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) offers an integrated approach to mental wellness. While further research is needed to draw firm conclusions, available data shows that MBAT can have a synergistic impact, enhancing the advantages of both meditation and art. Individuals who participate in creative expression in a mindful context might benefit from increased self-awareness, emotional regulation, and general psychological health improvement.

Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy Examples 

1.Mindful Drawing: Practice mindful drawing by focusing your attention on the sensory experience of the act of drawing, such as the texture of the paper, the movement of your hand, and the colors you use.

2.Emotion Mandalas: Make mandalas to symbolize your current emotional condition. Allow the process of creating and coloring the mandala to assist you in connecting with your emotions.

3.Mindful Sculpting: While practicing mindfulness, sculpt with clay or other materials. Pay special attention to the feelings in your fingertips and the material's transformation.

4.Paint by numbers for adults: draw attention to your breath, brush movement and color transitions as you dip your self in a dragon paint by number or a disney paint by number 

5.Gratitude Art: Compose an art creation that expresses what you're glad for to practice gratitude. Use colors and shapes that correspond to your state of thankfulness.

6.Silent Art Creation: Participate in an art-making session in complete silence allowing the creative process to be your mindfulness focus.

7.Body Scan Art: Combine body scan meditation and drawing. Draw the feelings or emotions you sense in each section of your body as you move your attention through it. generating a state of physical awareness and emotional flow.

8.Nature Art: Go outside and gather organic materials such as leaves, stones, or twigs. Use these items to make artwork that represents your relationship with nature.

Creativity and Self-Identity

Individuals are able to utilize artistic expression to nurture, build and reinvent their sense of self-identity in profound visceral ways. Individuals may explore their inner thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a unique and concrete way via the process of art creation. 

The process of self-expression, whether via painting, sketching, sculpture, or other creative mediums, allows for a profound introspective journey where they can reflect on their inner corners in ways that can't be found in other mediums.

Individuals get insights into their perspectives, values, and personal narratives when they externalize their inner worlds onto a painting or into a sculpture. Furthermore, the process of sharing and getting comments on their work may build a sense of connection and affirmation, contributing to a more nuanced view of their self-identity. 

a mirror through which individuals can reflect upon, redefine, and celebrate the multidimensional aspects of who they are. 

Olive Manx
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