I am an artist without boundaries who suffers from artist's block, as most of us do.
Art From Meditation
I want to begin by saying that this has nothing to do with religious practices. Although I use meditation for many purposes, this article is about simple meditation—the type of mindfulness that anyone can practice.
One day, I knew I wanted to write. I also wanted to draw. I wanted to use each of these to help me paint later when my workspace isn't so cold. So, I brought my laptop inside and began to look for ideas. None came. Well, none that gave me that "aha" moment that leads to me putting fingers to the keyboard or grabbing my sketchbook and pencils.
Seeking relief from the stress of the block, I sat back on my pillows, lit my incense and candles, and allowed myself to "zone out." As I watched the flame flicker, I felt myself slip into a comfortable, meditative state. I stopped worrying about what I was going to create and allowed my subconscious to play.
I kept thinking of my hands. I could see them typing away, and then I saw a second set of my own hands painting the scene. After enjoying the show, I thought, "Hey, I'd buy that painting!" and then I was back to reality, clear as a bell and ready to grab my tools.
From that day on, I tried to make a point to separate myself from the task of painting by meditating. Each time I was filled with inspiration for writing, drawing, and even crafts. There are still times where an idea strikes me out of nowhere, but I can always get new ideas through meditation. My paintings are sometimes weird, and a lot is still sitting in my idea book for later creation, but I no longer worry how I will create enough for the next sale.
Meditation in its simplest form is nothing to be afraid of. It doesn't take years of training, a special place, or new-age tools. I personally like those things, but I know that I do not need them to step away from the conscious mind for a few. It just takes letting your brain go off on its own. Giving yourself a chance to daydream without limits or expectations can be done anywhere as long as you can be uninterrupted for a bit.
Personally, these are the things I need for simple meditation:
- Comfort: You don’t want to fall asleep, but you do want to be comfortable. You don’t want to be constantly distracted by pain from sitting or standing too long, incorrect (for you) temperature, or uncomfortable clothing. You can try to block out these things, but it will make it harder for your subconscious to take over if your conscious is constantly reminding you that you are uncomfortable.
- General quiet (or at least noise you don't feel the need to pay attention to): Sometimes, you just can't get away from noise. Your spouse, kids, or roommate may be watching television or listening to music. There are simply times where you just have to let the outside noise blend together until it becomes unnoticeable. Honestly, I do this on purpose once in a while as I find it fun to notice the world around me melt away.
- No distracting lights, sounds, or smells: Yes, this can include the above point, but it’s not exactly what I am referring to here. This is more about sudden noises that will shock you out of a peaceful state. Try to avoid places where headlights might come in the window, alarms could go off, or sudden unpleasant odors can reach you.
- Something to focus on: This could be an item, sound, scent, or even the darkness behind your own eyelids. I like to stare into the black of my closed eyes and try to see through my lids. It gives your conscious mind something to do while your subconscious kicks in and something to refer to if you need to reset. For me, it leads to interesting sights.
- Something to write on and with: You may get too many ideas to work on at once, and you don’t want to lose them. Your conscious mind will not always hold on to your great ideas for long. You need to write them down as soon as you are becoming alert, so they will be there to work on. Also, you may not have the time to get straight to work after meditation due to schedule, location, or availability of tools.
I have found that, as soon as enough good ideas come to mind, I wake from my meditative state quite naturally. Most times, I have the added benefit of feeling as if I just took an energizing nap. If you are worried about the amount of time you will be “out of it,” I suggest setting an alarm for however many minutes you would like to allow. Don’t get caught up in making it to the alarm, though; you may only need 5 minutes to find inspiration. I would also suggest using an alarm that is gradually increasing in volume, so you are not shocked out of a peaceful place.
After your meditation, write every idea down while it is still lingering in your head. Even seemingly random thoughts can lead to something great upon later review. You may only have colors and single words that seem to make no sense together but write them anyway. When you look at them together on the paper, don’t think too hard about what they mean. Let them form whatever they want. Your mind remembers why it gave you those thoughts, and soon, you should have your “aha” moment.
Even if you are not looking for art inspiration, meditation can be a helpful tool. When I need to remember something (like where I may have put my pencil case), a few moments of stepping out of my conscious mind helps me recall where I may have placed it. Your mind knows what you need to think of at the moment, so, sometimes, you can meditate just for the sake of relaxation and find yourself remembering something or being inspired to do something that will serve you wonderfully.
Enjoy the self-care aspect of meditation, and your inner needs can be revealed to you. Even if you get no ideas, it is a relaxing practice that helps reset the mind and reorganize your thoughts. A few moments before an important meeting or test, a morning breather to prepare for the day ahead, or an evening wind-down to help you clear your mind before bed. Take time for yourself and remember the mind is constantly working for you and deserves a break now and then.