"You can’t stop the waves but you can learn how to surf. "
Jon Kabat- Zinn Ph. D.
Mindfulness is a psychological state of awareness and a powerful tool for inner peace. Although we have been hearing this word a lot in recent years, the idea goes back 2600 years ago to Buddhism. In the simplest terms, mindfulness is noticing your present thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judging them. In Buddhist teachings it is seen as the essential pathway out of suffering and into enlightenment. In modern times it has been used as a psychological strategy that results in “self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one's self with kindness, acceptance and compassion.” Mindfulness is accessible to everyone who wishes to practice it. Meditation, Yoga, and Breathing are popular ways people intentionally practice mindfulness, but there are many ways to be in a mindful state from exercising to journaling. The goal is to put your attention on the present moment.
As an intuitive, feeling, and highly sensitive person, (an INFJ specifically) I personally have found that practicing mindfulness helps me feel less drained by incoming information when relating to others and being out in the world. Mindfulness can help me recognize emotional overwhelm before it gets the best of me. It also helps to take me out of a reactive emotional state and into a clearer thinking state.
Painting is a mindfulness practice. When painting I am focused on the process. It is a dialogue of call and response. I am putting aside judgements and asking “do you like that texture?” “does that shape work with the others?” “How do I feel about that color?” Noticing how I feel about what I am making guides my creative decisions. Putting aside judgement at the right times is essential to moving through and completing a painting. All of those personal preferences add up to an expression that is unique to the artist.
Mindfulness is a muscle that can be built over time. The more you practice it, the more you feel the benefits and the more natural it becomes. It is an ongoing practice not a task to be mastered.
Humans are taking in more information and have more distractions than ever before. A peaceful and fulfilling life requires mindfulness to quiet the noise and listen to our authentic selves. It is only when we are centered that we can make choices that reflect our true needs and wants.
If you would like to explore more about these topics I have included some links below.
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Artwork Shown: Equanimity 12x48 in. Acrylic mixed media on panel.