Tag Archives: Meditation

Is Painting a Form of Meditation?

Is Painting a Form of Meditation?

Painting can be a fantastic way to help yourself develop an inner focus—in fact, people often find they lose track of time because they become completely immersed in the painting process.

Painting as a Form of Meditation

Meditating through art is a real and powerful method of practicing meditation. In fact, meditation through artistic endeavors can come in a variety of forms, and painting is just one of them. Painting in and of itself is a process that slows down the mind and body, helping you transport yourself to a place of peace and stability. It takes your mind away from the anxious, repetitive thoughts that you might have and focuses your energy into something much more calming.

If you’re like many people in recovery, it can feel impossible to turn off your anxious and repetitive thoughts. While painting, many people find that the mind slowly quiets as they lose themselves in the calming process. This inspires a state of relaxation and meditation, often without the painter realizing what’s occurring.

How Do You Meditate While Painting?

Meditative painting can be achieved.

To get started:

Focus Your Energy

One of the most important aspects of meditation involves focusing your energy into one area, so that you can then release it and achieve a clear mind. Consider how stressful life can be on a daily basis. It can be all too easy to let your mind run wild with anxious thoughts without becoming aware of how stressed you truly are.

With painting, you can focus your energy and anxious thoughts on the piece in front of you and use it as an outlet for those feelings. This helps to keep away stray intrusive thoughts and allows you to take a moment to calm down and be at peace with yourself. By focusing your energy into one place and working through obstacles through painting, you are meditating.

Slow Down and Find Peace

Slowing down can be difficult for anyone in our busy society. Whether it’s your busy schedule or the pressure that feeling unproductive can put on you, it can be hard to take time to relax. Painting can not only help you take some much-needed time for yourself, but it is an affordable, easy, and fun hobby.

It’s also a practice that helps people with restless minds finally find some peace and slow down enough to reach a meditative state. This ability to slow down and stop overthinking during meditation is a crucial tool to have while you recover. It’s one of many mindfulness techniques.

Clear Your Mind

Painting allows people to clear their minds, many times without even realizing it. This occurs because people often get into what is known as a “flow.” “Flowing” is a term used to describe becoming fully immersed in an activity, to the point where you feel almost mesmerized. This flow is what helps make painting a form of meditation, as some people really struggle to fully immerse themselves and clear their minds from their current thoughts. Actively clearing your mind before beginning can help ensure you find your flow.

The Benefits of Meditation During Recovery

Meditation is a frequently cited recovery tool for a reason—it can not only help you work your way through SUD treatment, but it can also help reduce your risk of relapse. In fact, meditation has many benefits for those in recovery.

Painting Provides a Healthy Coping Mechanism

Building healthy coping mechanisms is an essential aspect of recovery. When you get overwhelmed, it can seem far too easy to resort back to old methods that may have led to your substance use in the first place. Developing healthy coping mechanisms instead, including meditation through painting, can help you fight urges to relapse as well as help you calm down during anxious times.

Painting is Both a Hobby and a Form of Self Care

Painting for Self Care

Self-care is another vital part of your journey to recovery. Simple things like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and investing time in activities that make you happy are all forms of self-care that can help you heal. Painting is something anyone can do, which is why it makes such a great form of self-care for anyone who needs to spend more time on themselves, including those in recovery.

Hobbies are important too, not only because they are a form of self-care, but because they can take your focus away from stressors and put it into something you care about. Painting and meditating are just a few of the ways you can take care of yourself during recovery.

Painting Can Help Increase Self-Awareness

Building self-awareness can be a difficult skill to master. This is because it involves recognizing various aspects of your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and other features of the self. Self-awareness is important during recovery because it helps you to evaluate how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way. By being self-aware, you take the time to process your feelings and thoughts instead of acting on them immediately. Painting can help you meditate and spend time with yourself, and as a result, you can strengthen your self-awareness skills.

Painting Is a Stress and Anxiety Reliever

Painting is also an amazing stress and anxiety reliever. It’s a hobby that requires no skill and allows you to build a flow with the paint and the canvas or paper. As mentioned, flowing is what makes painting such a great stress and anxiety reliever—this feeling of being in flow with your work can help take you away from even the most stressful of thoughts. Painting is also an activity that doesn’t require a great deal of physical or mental work unless you really want it to, so you can easily paint at times when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Painting Reduces Burnout

Burnout is the result of feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and stressed. Burnout can happen both before and during recovery, which is why it’s so important to practice self-care. Whether you’re overwhelmed from work, recovery, or life in general, having an outlet to relieve your stress, utilize a healthy coping strategy, and deal with your feelings can help you immensely.

This is why so many people are turning to painting. Sometimes, to prevent burnout, all you need is some time to let your mind become free. Painting helps you focus your energy and calm you down without tiring you out or making you feel worse.

Embrace Art as a Form of Meditation in Recovery

Art and Meditation in Recovery

Recovery can be difficult to say the least, and finding healthy coping mechanisms, activities, and stress-relievers is essential throughout the process. Art is an incredible tool that can help you in many ways. Whether you just began your journey to recovery or you have been in recovery for years, painting can serve as a form of self-care and an outlet for meditation. Show your support of the arts and recovery by reading our Art in Recovery series.



Meditative Painting to Heal Your Life

Meditation has become more and more popular over the years. People have started to take a closer look at themselves and how to better themselves mentally as our world progresses.

Unfortunately, as we advance in technology and our information systems get better, we come to know more about this sometimes crazy and unfair world we live in. It’s important then that we find ways to calm our minds and fight against depression, anxiety, and other strong emotions.

So, how do you stay positive?

If you want to create an atmosphere of calm in yourself it’s important that you look within. Meditation and finding harmony are fantastic ways of promoting healthy mental activity in your day-to-day life.

Heal Your Life With Creative Art-Making

There are many different types of meditation. Most people have probably heard of trance and focus meditations — but creative art-making meditation has recently become increasingly popular. Meditative art-making is a variation of the normal meditative process. Unlike standard meditation that focuses on the self-release of your negative emotions through guidance or conscious submergence into your psyche, meditative art-making emphasizes harmony using art and your creativity as a medium. It’s a form of expression that can be used to push your hard emotions out onto paper so you can better envision them.

Creativity has long been seen as a type of healing act. Therapists and health professionals have been studying and using art as a medium for treating psychological disorders for years. Painting, drawing, or any other type of art where your creativity can shine makes it significantly easier to express yourself. As many of us are constantly under pressure to be or act a certain way, it becomes easier to use creativity in art as a medium for communicating with our emotions. Self-reflection is not an easy or comfortable process as we have many things in our life that we may rather forget about than dwell on. But, internalizing these feelings can stress us and cause long-term effects on our overall health.

The Process of Meditative Art-Making

The Process of Meditative Art-MakingMaterials you will need before you begin:

  • A canvas of some kind
  • Drawing or Painting tool
  • A quiet place to relax, with adequate lighting

If you are painting, you should also prepare a place to clean your brushes with water and have some watercolors, acrylics or other paints.

After you have your materials on hand, envision what your stressors are and consciously submerge yourself in them. It’s important that you know why you need to get rid of these thoughts and put them into tangible things. This step is crucial — because when you make your stressors into tangible objects, it becomes easier to release them. Once you have an image in your mind, paint or draw, focusing on the colors and object that you envision your stressors to be in. As you are painting, you should focus on releasing your stress, creating harmony as you paint, and letting go of all your stressors.

The bottom line is getting your negative thoughts onto paper and out of your head. We internalize so much emotional baggage that we tend to forget that we need to let go. The human mind was not structured to handle copious amounts of stress. As a result, when our stress levels get high, our bodies — both physically and mentally — start to go haywire. This is where meditation comes in to help you express yourself in creative environments. Holistic healing with art meditation gives you the power to harness your creativity into a positive source of encouragement for you and those around you.

Other Types of Creative Meditation

Expressive Movement for Addiction RecoveryThere also are other forms of creative meditation besides painting and drawing. Since creative meditation centers around using a medium that you can express your creativity through — anything that can be considered a creative action can be done in place of painting.

Some common examples of other creative meditation include:

  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Expressive movement
  • Music
  • Writing

All of these forms of expressing creativity can be used to meditate. No matter which medium you choose, the idea of using creativity to express your subconscious issues remains.

“To find the best ideas you have to go deep within yourself. To do this I practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day, every day, and by doing so I believe it keeps the ideas coming.” — Oliva Locher, photographer

Benefits of Meditation

There are many, many benefits to meditation. Self-reflection in a controlled environment lets you target key things that you don’t like and work them out yourself. It can be a permanent solution to dozens of difficult emotional states that people have to deal with every day. Depression that is caused by negative thoughts and anxiety is one of the more popular emotional stressors that influences people to seek out solutions. Thankfully, meditation has been shown to be effective in varying degrees at helping people work out their mental dilemmas. The following are the most common benefits:

  1. Reduces stress. Stress is one of the most common reasons for people to meditate. Having high stress in your life puts you at higher risk of health complications as hormones and other parts of your body are negatively impacted. Meditation can help reduce the high levels of cortisol that stress produces which promotes healthy sleeping, lessens depression, decreases blood pressure, and reduces inflammatory issues.
  2. Controls anxiety. Anxiety and stress go hand-in-hand. High levels of anxiety promote stress and increase your body’s susceptibility to hormonal imbalances. Relieving your anxiety through meditation by creating a calming environment can promote healthier levels of stress.
  3. Promotes emotional health. Positive reinforcement of any kind can lead to improved self-image. We are constantly surrounded by a world that lets us down, time after time. Positive reinforcement, even if it is coming from ourselves, is important in maintaining a healthy emotional state.
  4. Enhances self-awareness. Self-reflection allows you to develop a more conscious awareness about who you are as a person. Meditation lets you target things that bother you and that you want to get rid of, making it a highly effective method of self-reflection.

Furthermore, higher-order brain functions have been shown to improve in practitioners of meditation while low-order functions decrease — whether you have a mental disorder or not. These “high-order functions” are what dictate your cognitive process. Cognition is composed of intellectual function, orientation, attention, judgment, planning, memory, speech and language, complex perception, and decision-making. It does this by putting pressure on your brain’s cognitive function, flexing it like a muscle while you are decompressing and slowly getting rid of thoughts that would normally damage it.

Healing Complex Disorders Through Creative Meditation

Because of the benefits of meditation, complex disorders relating to severe depression and anxiety can be alleviated.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of those complex emotional disorders that has been shown to be alleviated through meditation. Post-traumatic stress happens when we witness, experience, or are involved in a shocking event. During the event, fear triggers an extreme hormonal response in the form of cortisol and adrenaline to forcibly stabilize itself. Once the event is over, our nervous system resets before initiating the recovery process — which can cause you to have a severe emotional or physical reaction if your adrenaline levels were very high. However, there are cases in which our nervous system does not reset, becoming a chronic condition that manifests symptoms of traumatic stress.

These prolonged symptoms are precisely what PTSD is. Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD, but for those who do, it can plague them for years — even the rest of their lives. Although PTSD is not pathological and can slowly go away on its own, as we develop resistance to the stress, some people may have extreme reactions that need treatment.

The Symptoms of PTSD

The Symptoms of PTSD

Although the cause of trauma changes between each and every person, people with PTSD experience three primary symptoms:

  • Repeating or reimagining the experience. Intrusive memories, dreams, or imagining the traumatic event over and over again, which prolongs the stress.
  • Individuals usually want to avoid anything that they think would make them remember the event. It could be a place, object, person, or anything else that they fear could make them remember.
  • Tension, anger, irritability, startling easily, or difficulties coping with life events.

Persistent traumas impact the structure and function of the brain over long periods of time. Humans who experience severe traumatic stress often see parts of their brains reduce in function, specifically, in areas that are easily susceptible to environmental threats, such as the hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, and left amygdala. Reduced brain function in these areas can cause severe damage to learning ability, emotional processing, nerves, and cognitive function.

Creative Meditation in PTSD Patients

Historically, cognitive psychotherapy — with or without medication — was the go-to treatment for PTSD. But social stigma, cost, guilt, shame, or inability prevents many people suffering from severe stress from seeking the help they need. Mindfulness-based interventions have become an alternative treatment for those looking for help. It’s important to note that not all mindfulness exercises are good for post-traumatic stress relief. Since some forms of meditation rely on looking at the problem again, some people might dig up more severe PTSD symptoms if they do not choose properly.

Art-based or creative-based meditation has a lower impact on the mind than most traditional meditation programs. Through the use of a physical medium, much of the imagination can be channeled into the act of creating art. The person is then distracted enough not to focus on their stress while letting go. Although this can be challenging, repeated use of creative meditations can help mediate serious symptoms from PTSD and other complicated disorders.

Meditation has been shown to reverse the damage that PTSD and severe trauma cases have in their brain. Although it may not guarantee freedom from whatever it is someone is having these traumatic experiences from, it can let them overcome it slowly, in a healthy way.

Can You Meditate Through Art?

Can You Meditate Through Art?The short answer is yes, you can meditate through art.

The process is simple and you can do it so long as your chosen creative medium is at hand. Many people choose to use creativity to fuel their emotions. Using it as a source means you can be much more direct in your approach to meditation. It allows you to think freely while feeling what is truly causing your pain. Art meditation focuses on acceptance and fostering healthy thinking without putting judgment onto yourself.

Here at ECHO we want to connect anyone who is interested in art for recovery by sharing educational information, tools and as many free resources as possible. Visit our Art Corner to see how you can get involved.