Art Therapy: Meditation and Collage Activity to Stay Grounded
By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults
Mindfulness is a frame of mind; being keenly aware of the present, and acknowledging and accepting our actions and thoughts with a non-judgmental attitude. Art Therapy is a natural way to practice mindfulness. When creating art, the colors, textures, and sounds pull us into the moment.
You do not need any previous training to meditate through art; just a willingness to draw like a child, with freedom and a sense of curiosity.
Meditation allows us to calm the body and mind, stay in the present moment, and pause before we react. Through this increased awareness we become cognizant of our feelings by tuning into our bodies. Our bodies store emotions, and by paying attention through our breath, we can be more aware of negative self-talk.
I invite you to practice a moment of mindfulness.
This exercise is effective if you are open to meditation and relaxation.
Get into a comfortable position in a chair or on the ground.
If you are sitting in a chair, uncross your legs and place your hands unfolded on your lap.
Close your eyes.
Place your attention on your breath.
Start by breathing in and out, noticing the rise and fall of your lungs.
Notice the sensations all around you.
Simply acknowledge them and continue to breathe.
Take deep breaths in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
While in this state of relaxation, ask yourself the following questions:
Am I doing the best and most loving thing for myself right now?
If I could change anything, would I, can I? Do I need to?
Continue to breathe deeply and slowly.
Gently allow yourself to take note of the things around you.
Increase your awareness of sounds near and far, smells, and body posture.
Expand your awareness from the breath and the space around you, and gently open your eyes.
Note: It is the nature of the mind to wander and so your thoughts will inevitably move away from your breath. That is normal. When you notice your mind has moved away, simply label your thoughts as “thoughts” and then gently bring your attention back to your breath. The practice is not in the clearing of your mind, the practice is in the coming back to your breath.
Practicing Mindfulness with Children/Teenagers
When practicing meditation with children/teenagers, there are certain techniques to help them stay grounded. One technique is to have your child count to themselves on the inward breath and then the outward breath. Another technique is to have your child visualize a calming color on the inward breath. Both practices can be very calming and centering, and can be expanded beyond meditation. During confrontation, if your child imagines inhaling a calming color before speaking, the practice can help them pause before reacting.
Art Activity: Framing your Emotions through Meditation and Collage
The following activity is effective for all age groups.
A magazine or book to cut out images
Water paints/Oil pastels
For this art activity, try and focus on your emotions. Look through the magazines and/or books and notice the first image that you either have a strong emotion for or against. When looking for an image, focus on a feeling that you want to bring into your life or that you wish to push out of your life and let go of. Whichever image you are immediately drawn to, that needs to be the image you will work with. For this activity, you will be cutting out that image and drawing a frame around it.
There are two ways to approach the frame:
1. The frame represents you looking out onto the image and wanting to take in the feeling it symbolizes, or
2. You are in the image and have obtained the desired feeling that the image represents
The magazine image can then be altered by continuing the colors of the image, drawing on the image, while focusing on internalizing the feeling that is represents.
Another way to engage in this art activity is to cut the image into a shape and create a picture from that shape. You can repeat the lines of the shape which becomes a way to meditate while doing art. This activity is way to quiet the mind and restore peace and harmony to your emotions.
I encourage you to try these techniques as ways to increase meditative and art practices that will enhance your coping and stress management skills.
For more therapeutic activities and resources on how to incorporate Art Therapy into your life, read more from Lynn's Creative Expressions Blog.
Learn more about Art Therapy and Lynn Cukaj, Board Certified Art Therapist here: www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com