come to your senses and make art.
Why cultivate sensory awareness?
Obvious answer: for pleasure.
Less obvious answer:
If I oblige myself – actually, more like force myself – to pay attention to my senses in the here-and-now, there are multiple benefits.
For those of us who travel around circuitous paths of tangled thought, truly tuning in to the senses, even for a micro-moment, is valuable.
It’s oh-so-grounding to land back in the present.
Maybe we need to trust that those intricate thoughts (and worries and obsessions) will be there when we come back to them. Or maybe it’s OK to risk letting them go (woah).
Sensory awareness is a BOUNTIFUL source of creative inspiration.
Allow me to share a Two-Minute Mindful Kindful Sensing technique.
I’m not usually a technique-teaching-type person, but … this is pretty much a Sally version of a classic Jon Kabat-Zinn Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction practice.
You pause. You bring awareness to where you are and to your immediate perceptions. For example, you say to yourself, innerly or even out loud:
‘Here I am sitting on a couch. What do I hear? A plane overhead and the hum of a washing machine. What do I feel in my body? The roughness of fabric against my back; tightness in my jaw. Now I will notice the sensation of the breath in my belly for one in-breath and one out-breath.
The whole process might take two minutes, yet it helps you recalibrate. It allows calming of a brain that whirs like an old-fashioned egg-beater. It allows spaces between habitual negativity cycles. It facilitates pleasure, appreciation and gratitude. It allows awareness of sensations in the micro-climate of YOU that can lead directly to art-making.
You can use this sensory information as a starting point for photographing, writing, painting, composing. Any kind of creative act, really.
So what’s that technique again?
- Notice if you are not present! Yep. That’d be a likely important preliminary step.
- Notice if you are beating yourself up for not being present. See if you can bring kindness to yourself instead.
- Say to yourself something basic and obvious about your body in space and where you are.
- Ask yourself, ‘What do I hear in this moment?’. Listen for an answer.
- Ask yourself, ‘What sensations stand out most in my body at the moment?’ Answer.
- Bring attention to your breath at the part of your body that you most easily feel its movement e.g. around your nostrils, chest or abdomen.
That’s it. Hope it helps. Let me know.
Last week, in Five Windows to Joy – Doing My Beauty Duty, I offered to show you what inspired my senses in that watery, boaty place.
I’m sharing one image for each sense. It’s a bit arbitrary, as each experience appealed to more than one sense, but here goes:
(Hmm…it seems I’ve posted about lichens before:
Lichen Love – the Mindful Kindful Texture Walk)
On the topic of Mindfulness and Creativity, here’s a connection for you to explore:
The delightful art therapist Michelle Olson facilitates a Facebook page called Mindfulness through Photography.
Lastly, opening up the whole field of Mindfulness and Arts Therapy, I strongly recommend Mindfulness and the Arts Therapies – a beautiful book edited by Laury Rappaport.
with love, art and soul from Sally
PS Should I show you what’s become of the Five Windows to Joy picture?
Great post that I can use for other my clients that suffer from anxiety!
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Thank you, Ron, I’m delighted that it’s useful.
Five windows to Joy; five senses; sensory mindfulness……I am inspired to incorporate these ideas into my next creative endeavour.