Is drawing to relax and find inner peace really a thing?
It sure is!
Though relaxation drawing isn’t a new concept, it seems to be popping up all over the place lately, and for a good reason.
The process is simple, the benefits are profound, and you can’t mess it up.
Additionally, although the end result isn’t the point of the practice, you might even wind up with some spiffy art to decorate your space.
What Is Meditative Drawing?
Surely you’ve drawn a picture at some point in your life. And you’ve at least heard of meditation, even if you’ve never actually tried it.
But what is meditation artwork? Here are some thoughts:
- Connecting. Anyone can pick up a pen and draw lines or a picture, but meditative drawing allows you to connect with yourself, the pen, the paper, and what you’re drawing.
- Mindfulness. Rather than pondering what to draw and which colors to use, this form of art therapy is about being present in the process and focusing your attention on things like how the pen feels in your hand, the sound it makes as you make marks, and noticing your breath and how you feel.
- Therapy. It’s an effective way to express and understand your emotions and how they affect you.
- No artistic ability required! You don’t need to be an artist or anywhere near good at drawing to benefit from meditative drawing.
What Are The Benefits of Meditation Drawing?
Maybe you’ve tried more traditional meditation but don’t enjoy it, can’t seem to stick with it, or you don’t experience the results you hope for.
Or perhaps you’re simply looking to add other forms of mindfulness to your practice. Mediation drawing is a fantastic alternative.
You don’t need Van Gogh-like talent to benefit from mindfulness drawing activities because it’s not about the result.
When you focus on the process of drawing and how you feel while doing so, you benefit in many ways.
- Increased resilience. Don’t erase your drawing if you mess up and resist letting yourself get stressed or annoyed at mistakes. Life is full of unexpected and unwanted events, and meditation drawing allows you to accept things as they are.
- Reduced stress and anxiety. Meditation allows you to connect with yourself and your feelings without judgment and find inner peace.
- Better focus. This practice isn’t about quieting your thoughts but instead noticing when they wander (which WILL happen) and returning your attention to your drawing. Doing this repeatedly strengthens your focus muscle.
- Improved creativity. Some of your realizations, reflections, and best ideas come when you think clearly and calmly.
Supplies You May Need for Mindful Drawing
Beginning a mindful drawing practice doesn’t require many supplies.
All you need is:
- Paper. A sketchbook, a journal, or even scrap paper works great.
- Drawing utensils. There are technical pens for this purpose, but any fine-tip pen will do the trick. You can also use colored pencils or markers if you like.
- A relaxing atmosphere. Your couch, kitchen table, or desk are all fine, as long as you’re comfortable and able to focus on the activity at hand.
7 Mindful and Meditative Drawing Ideas
You don’t need to draw anything specific to reap the benefits of a mindful drawing exercise. You can draw anything you want, but the following ideas are a great place to start.
Drawing your feelings allows you to empathize with yourself. It makes you feel heard and validated and allows you to express what’s happening inside you.
Begin by checking in with yourself. Identify an emotion and how it feels in your body. Don’t judge or resist it but simply become aware.
Keeping those feelings in mind, close your eyes and ask yourself what that emotion might look like. What shape, size, and color is it?
Now, without overthinking, draw it on your paper. You don’t have to know what it looks like as long as you’re open to working with it. Let go of thinking and trust your gut. Let the pen move freely and depict your feelings using lines and shapes. Use colors if you wish.
Reflect on your drawing afterward if you want to take it a step further. What does it look like? What can you learn from it? How do you feel now?
2. Word Doodles
Drawing words is a fun way to express what you’re feeling or achieve what you want to feel.
Choose an intention word or short phrase that resonates with you. Some word ideas include: overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, love, patient, present, or calm. You might prefer to doodle an affirmation such as “I am focused” or “I am worthy.”
Create bubble letters or simply write your chosen word on your paper as big as you’d like. Make designs and patterns inside and around the letters, filling the page to your liking. Use lines and shapes and colors, whatever feels right.
Body scan drawing is a great exercise for when you’re flooded with stress, anxiety, or overwhelming emotion.
To start, get in a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and take a few deep breaths.
Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the contact points between your body and the surface beneath you. Feel the weight of your body being supported.
Next, move your awareness through your body, from the bottom to the top. Your feet, calves, thighs, bottom, stomach, chest, upper and lower back, arms, wrists, fingers, neck, face, and head.
Notice any sensations, such as tension, tingling, pain, warmth, or coolness, and allow yourself to become aware of the colors, textures, or words that come to mind with these feelings. Bring your awareness back to your breath and then your surroundings.
When you’re ready, allow your pen to fill your page with whatever marks, colors, and words come to mind. Consider journaling about your experience when you’re done.
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This increasingly popular mindful art form uses repetitive patterns to create beautiful images. It’s easy to learn and quite relaxing. It’s often done with color but doesn’t have to be.
Begin by drawing wavy lines on your paper and move across the page using one color at a time. Next, fill in the wavy sections with wavy lines.
Continuing up or across the page, draw more wavy lines using another color and fill those wavy sections in with more wavy lines. Repeat these steps with however many colors you want to use.
Fill the whole page or leave white space at the top, whichever you prefer. You can fill in your wavy lines with matching chalk pastels to create a shadowy effect or leave it as is.
A big part of meditation is focusing on the breath, noticing how long each breath is and what it feels like as you inhale and exhale.
However, staying focused on the breath can be difficult as distracting thoughts enter your mind. Drawing the breath helps you maintain your awareness of it.
Set a timer for five minutes or for however long you want to do this practice. Begin on the edge of the page in the middle.
Gently move your pen up and down the page, syncing it with your breath. As you breathe in, make a mark moving up the page.
When you get to the top of the breath, make a small curve before bringing your line down the page as you exhale.
Make a small curve at the bottom of the breath before moving the pen back up your paper.
Don’t try to control your breath. Let it flow naturally, and simply be aware of it. When your mind wanders, notice it and bring your awareness back to the page.
You’ll likely notice the lines extending a bit longer as you become more present and calmer. You may also notice different patterns each time you do it depending on how you’re feeling at that moment.
6. Draw Music
Like drawing and meditation, music is soothing for the soul. You can combine all three for one unique mindful activity to elevate your mood and feel inspired.
Do this with lyrics or to the beat of a song without lyrics. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Begin by choosing a song you like, or that makes you feel good. Close your eyes and notice what colors you feel in the song. There may be one color or several. They may be dark or light, bold or gentle.
Notice what you see in the song.
- Do you see objects or people?
- Are the images happy? Sad? Enlightening?
Draw lines, patterns, lyrics, and shapes while listening to the rhythm of the music according to how it moves you. Change the lines or patterns as the rhythm changes.
Who knew drawing tiny versions of one of the most basic shapes could be so beneficial?
Start by slowly drawing a small circle on your paper. It can be as large or small as you want it to be. The point is to pay attention to the process.
Watch the marks as the pen makes them, feel your hand moving across the page, listen to the sound of each stroke, and notice how your body feels.
Play around with your circles. Vary the sizes and space between them, and create spirals within them. Don’t concern yourself with making perfect circles. Some lines may be wobbly or more oval-shaped. That’s fine.
But be sure to fully connect the beginning and end points rather than leaving them unclosed or with ends overlapping. If you notice this happening, simply become aware of it and move forward with more intention to close each circle fully.
As you notice thoughts arise, let them pass without judgment and bring your attention back to your drawing.
Meditation drawing is an easy, inexpensive way to feel happier, less stressed, and more focused. If you want to feel better, do better, and be better, try this practice. It just may be what you need!