Last June I fell and hurt my right arm and hand. No, it was not technically broken but it was hurt enough so that I needed to wear a splint 24/7 and had to avoid using the limb while in recovery. It was a real bummer since this is the hand I use to draw and paint. Being that I needed the use of this hand to make art, I am an artist and instructor after all, I had a couple weeks when I felt extremely sorry for myself and was ready to write off the entire summer.
Yes, it was a very difficult time. There was much income lost. And this loss was especially painful because I had not yet gotten back to earning as much as I did before the pandemic cut my earnings in half. When my arm got hurt, my income all but disappeared. After many months of having to stress about money, this truly was a blow, one that I did not know how to deal with.
I started cultivating a meditation habit many years ago. I have always found it difficult to do regularly and I've started and stopped many times. But since Covid-19 hit, I realized that it is something that has not only kept me in a fairly good emotional state, but has also helped me continue to make art and enjoy creating. Because of this, I now often make the effort to meditate, I integrate meditation into my art practice (and even into one of the art classes I teach), and consider it part of my process.
Below are the ways I found that meditation can be used as a tool to enjoy art activities even more, to generate new ideas, to be playful and explore, and carry on moving forward even when it’s difficult to see the path ahead.
1. Meditation is a warm up exercise
During those days when I’m not feeling great, I know that even a short time in my studio making art will lift my spirits. But even then, it’s sometimes hard to begin. This is when I discovered that if I do a short 5-10 minute meditation, it makes it easier to start pulling out my art materials and get going.
In 2006 I took a creativity workshop at my local recreation centre. I did not want to take this class but did so because I had a credit at the centre that was about to expire. It was either take a course before year end or lose the money. I signed up for the course simply because it fit my schedule. I came to the first session with a bad attitude. I was annoyed since I really didn’t want to be there and wished the centre policy allowed for a cash refund. I am ashamed to say I took my frustration out on the instructor, a lovely woman with a bright smile who announced we’d be decorating masks that day. I told her I did not want to paint a mask. She offered me other activities to do while the rest of the students worked on their projects. I declined them all, sat with a frown on my face and my arms crossed, then left class early.
As I walked into my home, guilt hit me. I acted like a jerk towards the instructor (who stayed wonderful and positive despite me being less than polite). I told myself that next week I was going to apologize and do better. Determined that I would act like I was brought up properly, I participated in the subsequent lessons and worked on the projects without complaint. I still thought the exercises were silly but I did them anyway. Then a funny thing happened around day 4. In the middle of one of the projects I realized something in me shifted. My mind was not thinking of my to do list, there was no anxiety in my being. I was just present in that classroom, content, totally in the zone, and at that very moment did not want to be anywhere else.
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