Meditative drawing is one of my favorite ways to create while also calming my mind.
I’ve taught this meditative drawing process a few times to groups of autistic children. After about five minutes of sitting and drawing, the energy shift in the room is palpable. I feel the calm take over each student, which is amazing considering we spend so much on medications for the same effect.
I heard a quote once about how asking a modern-day person to sit still for twenty minutes might create insanity because we just can’t do it that well. But the process you’ll find below is simple, and anyone can do it! It has a very similar effect to sitting still to meditate, so I hope you take time to try it out.
There is a popular process called “Zentangles,” but I call it Meditative Drawing or just fun and fancy doodling.
I want to note that just like yoga, no matter what “level” you’re at, if you sit down and draw intentionally, you will receive the same benefits as someone who creates masterpieces . . . it’s all a process.
And I’m guessing that some of you (like our friends on the autism spectrum) believe you can’t even draw a stick figure. You can totally draw a stick figure! I completely understand the creative struggle. You can do this.
Regardless of your experience or skill set (from stick figure to intricate creator), draw to help calm your mind because meditation isn’t an endgame. Meditation is a process to experience, hopefully at least once a day.
Before You Begin: Prepare Your Environment
Before you get started drawing, consider these tips to prepare your environment and create an intentional meditative practice.
1. I like to play classical music or yoga-style music for an intentional practice of meditative drawing. I use Pandora, so I listen to the yoga station. My other favorite is the classical piano station.
2. I love to light a candle as a way to bring light into my process. Plus it’s pretty and it smells good . . . all helpful things to create more intentional peace.
3. I take the time to make sure my chair and surface area are comfortable, clutter-free, and well lit. I discovered that I used to sit in awkward positions without thinking about it. When I stood up after drawing for a while, I’d have trouble straightening my body, and then I’d have major pain to work through. It’s worth the time to really look at how you’re sitting and if you’re comfortable. If not, please give yourself the gift of changing your position or even your chair or table.
4. Set a timer. This is if you feel stressed about how much time you have. Drawing for even five minutes can create a large shift in your mental space. Setting an intentional timer helps so you don’t check the time every few minutes. It also helps remind you to get up from your chair and move your body if needed.
Start by Scribbling!
I find that there are a few easy ways that everyone can succeed at meditative drawing (even you stick-figure non-drawers!), but the following is the first way I always recommend.
1. Draw a big scribble on your paper. Be sure to close the end of the scribble where you started. This is so you have closed spaces to work in. Any scribble will do, but I find it most helpful to fill up most of the page you’re working on.
2. In the different spaces and areas you’ve created in your scribble, fill in each space or area by drawing the same shape or pattern over and over again. This is the process that will help to drain your mind of monkey brain and create calm. Just keep drawing patterns.
3. Complete that until you’re done. Then start new scribbles. Fill in the spaces and add dots, stripes, crosses, circles, shapes, lines, swirls, drops, beans, zigzags, etc. Just keep drawing!
4. Stop anytime or keep going until the whole page is filled in. You can work on the same scribble over multiple sessions.
I fully believe that there are no mistakes in art–it’s the creative process that makes us healthier. If you’d like permission to be creative, check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic.
After You’ve Doodled
- How do Ifeel?
- Am I grateful I took the time to draw?
- How would I describe my mental state before I started compared to after I took the time to meditatively draw?
- Do I like what I drew or do I feel self-critical?
- Have I been creating gorgeous “doodles” for many years and want to share my designs in a safe community? Or am I just beginning and still feeling brave to share what I’ve created? I’d love to see what you create on Facebook.
Thank you for reading and creating. Please share any triumphs, comments, or questions by replying to this email!
Peace, love, and always creativity,