Gratitude and Creativity: Meditative Line Drawing

It’s not a heart, but in the spirit of the day it is red. ❤️

If you’re feeling lonely today or healing a broken heart, maybe tracing the lines in this line drawing can distract you from that heaviness for a moment.

Wait. Before you, literally, give me the finger and move on to another site: I’m not being glib. These lines do have a deeper meaning and I hope they will help others as they have helped me.

Drawing like this, without thinking or planning, is part of the creative practice I’ve been developing for myself since shortly after becoming ill. I use it to move my focus away from my chronic pain when it becomes too intense or it prevents me from sleeping. It doesn’t stop the pain. However, similar to meditation where focussing on the breath can ease anxiety, reduce stress, or help to relax our bodies so sleep comes more easily, meditative line drawing can help loosen the tension felt in the body – even for a short while.

Meditative line drawing (and doodling) shift my energy, so not every thought and emotion I have is directed toward my pain. This aspect of my creative practice has become one of the more frequently used methods for me to mentally cope with this illness; especially because I don’t always feel well enough to do significant amounts of creative activity like detailed drawing, painting or even writing, which all require a larger investment of time and energy.

Drawing lines is an activity that uses very little energy and causes even less stress or anxiety because it doesn’t have to be planned and it can be done anywhere at any time. All that’s needed is a pen or pencil and paper. Although, truth be told, I now own enough art supplies to open a store. Still, the simplicity of this practice when weighed against the benefits makes me grateful I discovered meditative drawing and doodling, within the larger concept of keeping an art journal when I did. Being creative gives me something other than pain to think about and manage.

Try drawing lines of your own, without thinking about where your pen or pencil will go for a few minutes. You might be surprised that doing this unclutters your mind – even if it’s just a bit to begin with – and it could be the start of your own creative practice too.

 

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InkTober 2017: Day 11 – Run

Today is a high pain day, so this will be a short post.

I’ve written in past posts that I used to be a runner. Running was a big part of my life at different times in my life. When I was young, it was about fun, school rivalry and competition, and winning. Winning a race was always a good, actually a euphoric feeling. One of the best wins came in junior high school when I won a major City race in a field my coach decided to test me in. I couldn’t believe I won that race because I wasn’t supposed to; I wasn’t even supposed to run it. So winning it gave the skinny little girl that I was a huge boost in self-confidence.

As I got older running became one of my biggest teachers. It taught me about toughness and self-reliance. When you’re out alone, in terrible weather, running a long route you have no one to rely on but yourself and you have to be tough to make it to the finish. Through this, I learned to respect the limits of my body. It’s one thing to tell yourself you can push through a little extra pain, but when that pain is indicative of an injury, you have to listen to your body. You have to stop, allow yourself to heal, and then try again at another time, which isn’t something I’ve always respected and ended up paying a price for it.

Running also taught me about healthy competition. The biggest message being that I am always my biggest competitor. Personal bests are called personal bests for a reason. That reason being that we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to the accomplishments or the abilities of others: that’s a certain path to unhappiness. Furthermore, when we dig deep, it should be about self-improvement without harsh self-criticism. And the solitude, in which runners often exist – and introverts like me crave – gives one the time and opportunities for self-reflection to work through many internal conflicts and big life issues.

I miss having the ability to run for all these reasons and so many more. If you’re a runner I hope you’re taking advantage of every moment of this freeing activity that you have.

 

Grounding Lines

I needed to release a lot of negative emotional energy today. All the terrible violent and racist activity that’s been going on in America since last Friday has put me on edge. In the past, I might have gone for a long run but running is not an option for me because of my illness and unceasing chronic pain. Instead I opened my sketchbook and started drawing lines. I drew lines until my mind started to clear. I kept drawing them until I felt grounded again.

If I’m being honest, I’ve been on edge for quite some time. It’s hard hearing someone, like the President of America, who holds such significant power, saying things that are divisive and so far from disavowing groups rooted in hate and racism. As all of this persists, I have to believe the people who don’t hold his opinions outnumber him. I also have to believe, people whose values are built on the basic premise that all human beings are equal will prevail.