Two misconceptions about art may be preventing you from enjoying the benefits of mindful creative expression. The first is that people are either born with a natural artistic talent or they’re not. While some natural ability is helpful, techniques can be taught and practiced over time. The second misconception, and perhaps the most important, is that if you’re not “good” at it, there’s no reason to make art. But Picasso himself said “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” What could be a better reason than that?

Being present in the moment is the goal of mindfulness and focusing on a creative project can help you accomplish that. When participating in “art as meditation,” the purpose isn’t to create a masterpiece, it’s to truly immerse yourself in the project free from self-criticism and other distractions. Try these techniques to enhance the mindfulness qualities of your next creativity session:

  • Meditate for a few moments before starting. Focus on entering a non-judgmental state of mind
  • Play soothing music if you like, but otherwise remove any distractions
  • If negative thoughts arise, treat them the same way you would during a sitting meditation: take a deep breath and let them go
  • Don’t keep projects created during mindfulness practice, throw or give them away. This helps prevent you from becoming attached to the “product”

Creating art is one more way to incorporate mindfulness practice into your life. There’s no need for art lessons or investing in expensive supplies. Start where you are. Grab a crayon and a coloring book or draw stick figures on a sheet of office paper. Remember, the goal of this experiment is to enjoy the process and “wash off” a little dust.