As a life-long creative, I’ve always dabbled in making stuff. As a child, I loved coloring and building. In college, I took as many art history classes as I could soak in once I discovered how much I loved them. Professionally, I focused my career on design + storytelling, building concepts, color palettes and ideas to share with customers.
As I got older, and busier - life pushed the creating to the way back, only allowing myself to make + build at work and falling into the daily life lists of mundane matters at home. All that changed a few years ago as I sought a practice that could bring some fun + joy back into my days. In the midst of a divorce, pondering a career and life change I was needing something beyond my usual tools of therapy, yoga and tequila to help connect me with my inner being. Meditation was in my practice, but I wasn’t very good at it yet. Just the thought of being silent and still would ratchet up my anxiety tenfolds, so much so that I rarely made time to for it.
Instead, I found myself drawn to making art. Inspired by some close friends, and a mother who found her own art practice later in life - I decided to jump back in. Doodling and making marks at first. Drawing, painting and collaging later on. I craved the time I spent making - my hands busy, my brain free. The joy of color play - a constant in whatever medium I’m working with, brought me a peace and a joy I was craving. I could literally feel the anxiety and stress of the day melt away as I began my practice.
Turns out, I’m not alone. Much research has been done about the effects having a creative practice can have on your brain and body. It’s as effective at meditation as helping to calm the mind and finding flow. What I’ve found for myself is this_
Creating helps me find my center. Taking time to paint, draw, dance, even cook meal helps me to find calm in the storm. Any act of making connects to my body, my breath and takes me out of the DOING and the THINKING that occupies the rest of my day. After just a few minutes, I am calmer, happier, more present in the moment. As a parent, I now know this is hard-wired from birth - watching my daughter build, make or create brings her the same stillness and calm that her little body craves and needs daily.
Making art quiets my mind (and my noisy inner critic.) Doing something daily, that I have little training and experience in allows my mind to settle. Quieting the incessant chatter, especially from the negative committee that not-so-silently judges all I do, allows me to be in the moment. Playing, having fun, trying new things - with no expected outcomes or pressure. Spending just 10 - 15 minutes a day in the creative zone frees my mind up to think new thoughts, quiet down and approach the rest of life with a bit more grace.
Find my flow. Flow. That elusive, mystical place of balance and ease we all strive to find. For me, nothing gets me into the state of flow faster than the practice of making something with my hands. Writing, doodling, collaging - nothing brings me peace faster than getting my hands + mind engaged in something playful and fun. I tend to have my best ideas either during or shortly after a creative session. I am a better writer, mother, friend, thinker and human when I’ve spent some time in the zone creatively.
Don’t worry about the outcome. For me, making art RARELY means that I’m making good art. Art that I like or am proud of. The art that I do make, actually isn’t the point - it’s the process that matters. The simple act of making is where I build confidence, stability, space. It’s the time for me to be free, to be me and to just play for a few minutes daily.
Interested to find some inner peace, but not quite ready to create yourself? NO PROBLEM! A great article on how to view art to bring you more awareness in the present moment.