Art Therapy - Self Expression - Lynn Cuk

Mindfulness & 

Guided Imagery

  • Anchoring Sounds

  • Balloon Breath

  • Positive Affirmations 

  • Mindful Music

  • Doodle Zentangles

  • Tense & Release Body Scan

Mindfulness is a frame of mind; being keenly aware of the present and acknowledging our thoughts with a non-judgmental attitude. Art is an instrumental means to practice mindfulness. The colors, sounds, and textures pull us into the moment. You do not need any previous training to meditate through art, just a willingness to freely draw, listen, and explore with a sense of curiosity.

Spending a lot of time in our head causes stress. There will always be new things to worry about, conversations to rehearse, and activities to plan. But research tells us that when we live in the moment - that is, getting out of our head and being consciously aware of our surroundings, we experience less stress. Incorporating Daily Mindful Activities or a Breathing Meditation Practice into your day, you will have better command over your thoughts and feelings, living a more peaceful and intentional life. 

Guided Imagery is a mindfulness technique used to relax the body and mind. Relaxation of the body is aided by the art therapist in a progressive muscle relaxation that reduces stress and anxiety in the body by slowly tensing and relaxing each muscle group. Once the body is relaxed the mind can be open for guided imagery which is a process of creating a positive visualization. The art therapist guides this process to help create a safe place which when tension arises it becomes a place to go to in a person’s mind for relaxation and peace. To further aid in the benefits of this positive visualization, images are then created in either 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional form using a variety of art materials.

MINUTE MINDFULNESS ACTIVITIES

While working with an Art Therapist can instrumental in guiding you through the Art Therapy Process, there are activities and techniques that you can do at home to help you quickly get centered and practice awareness. Below are some hand-picked techniques that I recommend to my clients who may only have 5-10 minutes to get grounded. 

Anchoring Sounds

  • Strengthens focus & attention

Place your attention on the sounds outside of where you are, inside space where you are, and inside your own body. Notice when your mind moves away and gently bring it back to the sound.

 

Parents: When practicing with children/teenagers give them time to share what they heard.

Balloon Breath

Art Activity: Create a picture of two balloons. One balloon represents an inhale and the other balloon represents an exhale. Use colors, designs and words while designing your balloons.

Bring your attention to your belly’s breath. Notice how the breath makes the belly expand like a balloon on the inhale and deflate on the exhale. Keep visualizing this balloon as you focus on your breath. Practice for 1-2 minutes, and repeat as much as necessary.

Positive Affirmations

  • Improves Self-Esteem

Art Activity: Create an I AM poster.

Art Materials Needed

Canvas (poster or piece of paper are OK)

Your choice: Markers, Colored Pencils, Magazines or other printouts (with glue and scissors).

1. In a journal, Fill in the blank:  "I AM so ____________"

and repeat this step as many times as you'd like.

2. Using your canvas and art materials, visually depict these thoughts and design your own I AM poster.

Parents: When practicing with your children/teenagers you can practice together out loud. 

Loving Kindness Wishes

May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live in peace. 

Meditate on the following words. Direct the words to yourself, someone you love, or someone that is difficult to get along with - or simply to all beings everywhere.

Parents: When practicing with your children/teenagers you can practice together out loud. 

Art Activity: Create Rock Wishes

Find small stones paint them with a bright color. Write positive words on them and then seal the rocks with mod podge. These rocks can be a family activity and kept in place that when a member of the family needs an uplifting saying they can take it.

Mindful Music

  • Experience music & how it affects our feelings

Pick your favorite song or artist. Listen for about a minute and then notice how the song makes you feel. Label that feeling: are you tense, energized, relaxed, sad, excited, peaceful? Pay attention to the rhythm of your breath and how your body rises and falls with the music. Allow any memories that you get from listening to that particular song flow in and become aware of the emotions they bring.

Art Activity: Music on Canvas

Using either paint, watercolors, colored pencils or markers, play a song while making art. Let the music move your hand and guide your expression. 

Tense & Release Body Scan

  • Relaxes the body & mind

Begin with 3 deep breaths. Bring your awareness to your body, noticing any sensations. Beginning with your feet, tense and then relax each region of your body slowly making your way up to the crown of your head. 

Parents: When practicing with children/teenagers, have them imagine sand being released as they let go of tension or waves moving over their bodies. This exercise is very helpful if your child has anxiety or difficulty falling asleep.

Art Activity: Gratitude Body Scan

Draw an outline of your body on a sheet of paper. Pinpoint where the anxiety is felt the most and draw a calming scene around that area of your body.

Doodle Zentangles

  • Quiets the mind & increases concentration

A Zentangle is a miniature abstract work of art designed with patterns, or "tangles" that is intended to be relaxing and rejuvenating for the mind.   

Materials Needed: Thin-tipped black pen & paper

On your sheet of paper, draw a 2"x2" square. Within the square, begin to mindfully draw intricate patterns, moving the paper around if you wish. Once you have fully designed your tile, make another 2"x2" square and design something different. This activity promotes hand-eye coordination and repetition, which provides a healthy distraction from stressful or anxiety provoking situations.

Mandala Designs

  • A sense of accomplishment, satisfaction & confidence

Mandalas are circular designs that can be used as a tool to relax, both your body and mind.

Art Activity: Make a Mandala

Materials Needed: Pen/thin marker/pencil & paper

Start by drawing a circle in the center of the page. Create patterns emanating from the circle radiating outwards using rulers, circular stencils, stamps, or by just drawing free hand.