Art therapy, art journaling and yoga have been catching on over the years as more of these healing workshops become available in yoga studios and private art studios globally. These sessions aim to ease the tensions of our highly stressed lifestyles and day-to-day grinds. Couple these activities with relaxing music and aromatherapy oils and VOILA!... A wonderful multi-sensory experience to open your body, mind and soul for self-reflection, self-expression and a deeper level of relaxation.
So how do you re-create this practice in your own home? Here are some basic steps:-
1. Create a quiet, private space and pull out the aromatherapy oils
Choosing a clean, uncluttered space is important for relaxation and healing, whether it is in your home or your art/yoga studio or even outdoors. Make sure you choose a private, tidy area that allows you to feel peaceful and calm. Put your phone on silent so that you do not get interrupted. Set up a playlist that will last the duration of your session.
Get the essential oils out and place a few drops of your favourite oils into the palm of your hands. Rub your palms together, sit up tall, close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths. Feel your sitting bones sinking into the earth and feel your spine and crown of your head lengthening towards the sky.
2. Yoga and Meditation
Get the circulation going by doing some yoga asanas. Perhaps you may like to follow a youtube video. Or just let yourself flow – see what your body craves for – sun salutations, arm balances or stretches. Listen to your body and let it guide your pace. Spend 20-30 minutes moving through your own sequence of asanas.
After yoga, take a 5 minute savasana (corpse pose) or seated meditation. Observe any feelings and sensations in your body that arise during your practice.
3. Art Making
Have all your art supplies at hand – your water colours, oil paints, acrylic paints, charcoal sticks, pastels, paper, canvases so that you have everything within reach to dive straight into your creative process. Begin by drawing what you feel, your first thoughts, your fears, your hopes…anything that you want in the centre of your canvas or paper. Then work your way out. Feel free to express your ideas without judgement and without second guessing yourself. You can even use your breath or the music on your playlist to guide your mark makings. Be in the present and express yourself fully through your paint strokes, choice of colours and subjects.
Have your pen and notebook handy and write down your thoughts or whatever is on your mind. Again, do not judge your thoughts. Simply observe them, write them down – do it for at least 2 – 5 minutes uninterrupted- longer if you wish. It’s perfect to keep you in the present and unburden any lingering thoughts.
5. Witness and reflect
Look at your art work and your journaling. Write down what comes to mind. Questions, comments, fleeting thoughts or associations then try to draw insights about yourself. Do all this without thinking or second guessing – just write. Then observe how you feel after creating.
Do you feel more relaxed and clear minded than before your session? Did you learn something new about yourself? Witnessing and reflecting on your session will help you grow and understand yourself in ways that you never took the time to previously.
At the end of your session, thank yourself for taking the time to nurture your mind, body and spirit.
Make it a point to set aside time for art therapy at least once a month. You will find yourself growing more mindful, spiritual and grow into a much happier person.