Mindfulness and drawing

Being of a sensitive and empathic disposition I became very familiar with the state of flight/fight. Growing up, I saw and felt things… not just my things, everyone else’s too… deeply. I have learned that drawing enables mindfulness…

“You’re so sensitive, you’re hyper sensitive.” How many times have I heard that!

My mind would fabricate stories about my experiences and ruminate on them for weeks, months…years!!  According to Elaine Aaron, who has made a study of “The Highly Sensitive Person”, they (HSP’s) process their experience of life very deeply. They also tend to feel very deeply and so these two propensities (there are more!) can lead to overwhelm or what presents as “hyper sensitivity.” I find her work very interesting and it has helped me to come to terms with aspects of my nature.

Things frightened me. They still do but I have realized that I can shift my relationship with fear, I can “step back,” engage with the present moment, breathe slowly, and focus in my body with a feeling of warm heartedness i.e. I can consciously connect with the global attention in my right hemisphere.

What can work for me is relatively simple;

  • Slow down…
  • Breathe deeply and slowly into your abdomen and focus there or somewhere outside yourself…the sky, a bird, green leaves, a cat…gently, with a feeling of warm heartedness, gratitude…what if I’m not feeling grateful, huh? After the day I’ve had, I’m not going to feel grateful… and compassion. 
  • Gratitude is present within you, like love and compassion, they are inherent. Slow breathing will settle the ruminating mind, making space for you to focus in the heart, with compassion and gratitude for…everything, the whole lot. When an evaluation comes in, have another go.

Mindfulness is simple, but not easy. The left hemisphere has a stickiness and finds it difficult to disengage, the more familiar it becomes with a subject or object, the more it is driven to fixate on it and the less inclined it is to support right hemispheric activities…

I’m busy, can’t you see, I’m far too busy to do pilates. Drawing?? I need to clean this cupboard, look at the mess around here. All these people are hassling me, I just need a rest for heaven’s sake. 

It can persist, virulently, until you attend to it…with the grown up, those aspects of mind capable of transcending, understanding and reasoning.  “The right hemisphere is able to rapidly transfer information between the cortex and the centres below the cortex” says Ian McGilchrist. I have a handy evaluation to engage it;

“Hello left hemisphere, it’s understandable that you’re here,’ understanding,

“I see you’re doing your job,” acknowledgement,

“thank-you.” It responds very well to gratitude.

Now we can be firm, set a boundary, an intention,

“right now,” alluding to the present,

“I’m breathing, drawing, exercising, noticing the things around me, choosing to feel loving, compassionate and warm hearted towards myself and others, going for a walk, day dreaming, staring out the window, sitting, reflecting, contemplating…bringing myself into the present moment, feeling grateful for running water and flushing toilets…”  Well, think where we’d be without them!

Growing up with powerful experiences in both my left and right hemispheres, I was highly motivated to seek out strategies for calming myself and two of the most cathartic have been creativity and mindfulness.

I practice mindfulness, I value it and still my left hemisphere has a reaction at times. It’s a buzz word and the internal critic can find buzz words tiresome, so m i n d f u l n e s s may trigger an evaluation in 2017,

“I’m soooo sick of hearing that word again, everyone’s talking about that mindfulness stuff. I’ve tried it too… it doesn’t work, you just stand there, looking around, getting bored, trying to breathe… I get a headache, I feel like I’m losing air, nothing happens, nothing changes…blah…can’t be bothered…what’s on TV?”

Whilst in 2016, it was quite the word. It still works for me in 2018.

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