In Search of a Blank Canvas: One mom’s artful journey to mindfulness

by Erika Prafder | April 19, 2018 1:52 am

Mindfulness comes in many forms and in our mom’s case, unexpected ways.

After our father fell ill to a rare and un-curable blood disease four years back, she transitioned in to the caretaker role seemingly overnight. Instead of their once active, well-traveled lifestyle, days turned in to months that were spent in and out of medical specialists’ offices and hospitals for opinions, procedures and emergency visits.

As a positive distraction from her stressful ‘new normal,’ my sister and I encouraged mom, our first art teacher and creative inspiration, to paint. She was receptive and within days, there was a noticeable shift in both her mindset and demeanor. These creative sessions brought on a more mindful state of being in the following five ways:

1) By taking regular time to sit quietly by herself, with views of nature outside her window, her emotional and mental state grew less tense.

2) With nothing to focus on but the canvas in front of her, burdens and pressures subsided and her mental state eased.

3) Mom’s paint palette became a tool to free her mind of concern, worry and ‘what if scenarios,’ and each slow, intentional brushstroke slowed and steadied her breath.

4) Mom developed more clarity on dad’s situation and the feelings she’d attached to it. Her ability to notice and let go of such debilitating energy and action enhanced.

5) By turning her attention inward, mom gained a renewed sense of self-control over her emotions, in the midst of a disheartening time, and one in which she’d felt utterly powerless.

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Unfortunately, after a long, challenging fight, my father passed away a year ago. But mom’s newfound mindfulness, practiced through the medium of art, continues to enable her to cope with hardship, to practice self-care and to find inner-stillness.

Equally remarkable is knowing how hard she worked to direct her attention inward, digging deep for a source of inspiration for her artwork.

The healing effects of creativity and contributing to life in a beautiful way, have helped us all to mourn, heal from loss, and bond more tightly then ever – as family, and as new business owners! We were so impressed with mom’s artistry — hand-painted images of the joys of motherhood, life’s everyday beauty and blessings — that my sister and I decided to share her gifts with the world. We recently launched an Etsy shop to offer her creations as vintage, artisanal note cards and soon, prints.

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The power of mindfulness in all its manifestations is yet untapped for many people and its benefits continue to be studied and revealed. To test the practice in artful fashion, you can try these nine exercises:

1) Painting a place or object that evokes feelings of self-awareness
2) Staying focused on a mantra or intention while painting images that represent it
3) Playing with crafts such as paper, fabric, stamps, clay, or metal.
4) Painting to music
5) Drawing in sand, such as with a Zen Garden
6) Coloring in a design, using a coloring book or Mandala outline
7) Drawing outside in the great outdoors
8) Creating a calming collage by choosing images that soothe you
9) Finger painting (It’s not just for the kiddos)

All photo credits: Dina Jacobs, co-founder, DrawingBoardShop.com

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DrawingBoardShop
  2. [Image]: http://yogadigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Yoga-Mat-for-YD.jpg

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