If sitting is not for you, I recommend to you active meditation.
This summer, I spent two weeks at the Expressive Art Therapy Summer Institute at Prescott College, and experienced a form of active meditation. What is active meditation you may ask? Sitting meditation is turning inwards, and active meditations are about external reflections. They are both outlets for us to let go of what we don’t need, and tap into ourselves to find answers we seek.
Many people have the misconception that meditation is only about sitting, and when they learn that they can’t sit, they refuse to practice. But in actuality, the state of meditation, or the “flow”, can be achieved through other means. And when we have a flow, the “noise” sinks, and we develop a full internal awareness to tap into our intuition.
Expressive art therapy is not about the product, but the process. It is not about creating a beautiful piece of work you can display later on; the value is in the process of making it. Sharing your experience is optional, and no one will be taking pictures of your creation, so you can fully engage in the expression.
And before you refuse expressive art, you should know that it is not just about art-art. It is inclusive of art, writing, poetry, and movement.
Let me share with you a scribble drawing exercise I did.
You have a choice of scribbling with your right hand with your eyes closed, or with your left hand with your eyes opened.
I opted for scribbling with a pastel with my right hand, eyes closed.
From start to stop, it all happened in less than one minute.
After “pen’s down,” we got up and started looking at our scribble from different angles. Walking around what we just created, noticing any forms or shapes, interpreting what our scribbles could be. Just notice what you notice.
Then we embellished what we wanted to stay, and covered what we don’t want/need. And we highlighted and decorated any parts that we desired.
Lastly we wrote in our journals of our witness, thinking in terms of the art talking to you, and you just listening as you write.
At this point, you probably think this sounds crazy: “A piece of drawing talking to me?” I know it is hard to imagine. You have to experience the process, non-judgmentally and with open acceptance, to understand it.
It was not difficult at all to find meaning in my scribble. The experience amazed me in that I was able to access my intuition in such a simple and easy way. What occurred to me was I actually knew the message that came to me, just that my other I did not. The art that I created with my own hands helped deliver what my conscious-I needed to know.
I also felt lighter after the experience, knowing that I can connect with myself.
And very similarly I also get this clarity when I sit for meditation, usually for a longer period of time. I find active meditation a lot quicker in helping me get into the flow, and tapping into my instinct.
FYI --- What you see from my art would totally be different from what I’ve derived from it because we bring with us years of preconception developed from our history, experiences, etc. Basically we all have a different blueprint.
Meditation is turning inwards, and expressive art is external. No matter what form of practice we do, we have the answers. It’s just that in normal daily life, our world is full of distractions, which create a layer of noise that fogs up our thinking.
So I tell you, if you can’t sit, it is not the end of the world. You can find your flow through other mindfulness practices!
After my invigorating experiences with expressive art, I am eager to show you what active meditation is about. Join us on Sep. 29 as we introduce Active Meditation via Creative Expression!