Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I love creating art.  Any medium. I am always willing to try new things.  In my community I am the resident artist, called upon to create art for invitations, t-shirts, etc.  Several years ago I created a design for a t-shirt for a Jewish Festival at our temple.  They liked it so much that they decided to use it for the temple logo, reprinting all their stationary.  Now everything at the temple has my design on it.

When I am working on a project, I often get engrossed. It is a feeling like meditation, where nothing else exists for the moment except me and the art. Sometimes this happens naturally, other times I move into this state by practicing 'MINDFULNESS'.  This is a therapeutic technique based on Buddhist practices.  Mindfulness involves the non-judgmental awareness of every thought and sensation. I watch the tip of my Exacto blade as it follows the outline of my papercut design.  I watch the tip of the colored pencil as it moves across the paper, resulting in a line of color. I am aware of the environment around me, and I acknowledge the sounds, but it does not intrude. I am accepting of any thoughts that cross my mind, but I don't linger on them. My attentiion is centered on the here and now of the paper in front of me and what my hand is doing to it (with the help of the blade or pencil, of course).

According to Wikipedia, research has shown mindfulness may be helpful  in therapy for, among other things, chronic pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.  Most studies have been on using mindfulness based practices regularly over a period of time, such a 2 months.  While I don't practice it regularly, I do come out of a session feeling calm, quiet, alert and focussed.  I can't say how long this lasts, because I never paid attention to that.  I will, and will let you know. 

Try being mindful with some activity in which you engage.  I have heard (though I don't remember where) that mindful eating can help with eating healthier. Makes sense to me.  I can't imagine mindfully eating with a Big Mac in one hand and large fries in the other.  It really doesn't matter what activity you pick.  In fact, it  might be an idea to try it with an activity you don't especially like. For example, when you wash dishes, look at the plate when you pick it up.  Notice the colors, the curves, the texture, shine, etc.  Even notice the chip on the edge, accept it, and move on.  Watch the bubbles as they get swirled over the surface.  Look at how they reflect a rainbow of colors, how they look like a solid mass, but they feel soft and insubstantial.  Get all your senses involved. This would definitely transform a dish washing session.  If any unpleasant thoughts cross your mind, accept  that they are there, and move on.  Do the same with pleasant thoughts.  You are there as a non-judgmental observer. 

Give it a try.  Be non-judgmental with yourself as well, if your mind wanders, or gets caught up in some thought, that's OK.  When you realize it, accept it and move on.  When you are done with that activity, think about how you feel.  Do you feel different in any way? Try practicing mindfulness regularly.  It gets easier, and more effective with practice.

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