By Karen Gasparick
Are you a beginner to mindfulness? “Drawing on Breath” is a great hands-on way to introduce being present with the breath to students of every experience level and age. "Drawing on Breath" is also a valuable tool for those looking to mix up their visual art practice. This is an excellent activity to try with young students to teach awareness of breath as well as fine motor skills. It’s an easy and inexpensive way for students of all ages to work on a project together.
Much like strength training, weight loss, or any other endeavor, one of the greatest opportunities with drawing can also be the biggest "road block" - starting. A blank page, fresh new markers or pens, and unlimited possibilities... Sometimes that sounds amazing, but often, unlimited possibilities can be overwhelming. “Drawing on Breath” requires very limited materials and no preparation other than being open minded.
Here are some suggestions to get started. For the “Drawing on Breath” activity, these are merely starting points. There is NO WRONG WAY to do this. It’s all about you, doing what feels right to you, using the tools you love, and enjoying the time you are taking for YOU. You’re worth it!
SUGGESTIONS FOR MATERIALS:
UTENSILS: markers, pens, crayons, pencils, charcoal, pastels, paint, finger paint, mud, dirt, etc. (Sky’s the limit)
SUBSTRATES: paper, cardboard box, brown bag, back of junk mail, Post-It Note, newspaper, sandy beach, chalk on the sidewalk, a rock, etc. (Sky’s the limit)
Find a spot you’ll be comfortable in for 11 minutes. I prefer kneeling on the floor. (Sitting at a desk or standing works too.) However you choose to work, make sure your back is straight, shoulders are down and back, and avoid rounding your shoulders or hunching forward. (You can pin your paper / substrate to the wall in front of you with the center at eye level - approximately 60” off the floor for the average height adult standing posture – adjust for you or your children’s height)
First, I get my materials ready (whatever is handy usually). For this example, I set a timer for 11 minutes, although typically I do not set a timer unless I have somewhere I need to be. It’s really your preference. I take some deep breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth. I look around, smell the smells, hear the sounds, give thanks, and grab a marker.
I close my eyes, and with each inhale, I allow my breath to “pull” my hand toward my body. Like a seismograph records with a line the movement of the earth’s plates, my hand records with a single line the way that my breath moves through my body. As I exhale, I allow my breath to “push” the pen away from my body. I’m not at all concerned aesthetically with what kind of image is on the page. I’m just allowing my breath to move my hand and the pen. I am feeling the texture of the paper and the feeling of the felt tip of the marker. I am feeling the texture of the paper on my skin and the weight of the pen in my hand. I am experimenting with how tight or how loose I hold the marker. I experiment with the pressure I put from pen to pad.
Each time that my concentration starts to wander from the exercise, which it will, I change color pens and take that moment to see what my breathing looks and feels like. You can do this with 1 color, all the colors, a finger in some mud… remember… no rules.
As the exercise continues, and my mind becomes quieter and focused on the activity. My breath changes from radiating straight from my body outward, to a more spiral “double-helix” motion/shape. My breaths also become slower, and “lower” in my abdomen. There is no right or wrong way or shape. Allow yourself permission to be open each time to just see what shapes and colors emerge.
I prefer to do this exercise “semi blind” – I close my eyes and do not look at the paper while I’m actively drawing. I do look at the paper in between breaths. This exercise can be done looking at the paper as much or as little of the time as is comfortable. This is another opportunity to experiment and see “how much looking” is right for you. Consider this an invitation to experiment!
Here’s a time-lapse video of the whole process – 11 minutes. Feel free to share with us YOUR “Drawing on Breath” project!
During the month of March, Foundation Chiropractic and Superb Health present the #MyBonus22 challenge. Try this "Drawing on Breath" activity as a part of your 22 minutes!
For the Superb Health + Foundation Chiropractic #MyBonus22 March Challenge, the goal is for the participant to “take back” 22 minutes each day for movement, mindfulness and/or creativity. We understand how busy life is, and how caring for others occupies our time. We believe that investing time each day to practice being present and thankful is a very selfless thing to do. By helping yourself, it allows you to be the very best you can be in life – in health, relationships, work, play, love, training and more. We believe that moving each day and taking time for creativity and mindfulness can help take wellness, fitness, and happiness to the next level.
We believe in you.
About the Author:
Karen Gasparick is Director of Group Exercise and an RKC / HKC Certified Instructor at Superb Health, located in the beautiful Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee, WI. Karen believes that everyone has the right to be well, to be happy, and in the unlimited potential in each person to do amazing things!
Karen and her husband Beardy live in the Bay View Neighborhood and both have a background in kettlebell training as well as visual art. You can find Karen and Beardy swinging bells, drawing, enjoying the outdoors, and having fun at Superb Health.