Do you meditate? The benefits to your mind and body appear to be numerous, and plenty of world class performers confess to some kind of a regular meditative practice. This doesn’t have to be the stereotypical cross-legged monk kind of meditation either – it can take many forms as a means to reach that elusive ‘flow’ state. For Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s weight lifting. He concentrates so hard on the muscles and movements that his mind is fully forced into the present moment. Others get this feeling from long distance running.
I have dabbled in meditation, both traditional and the non-traditional. I think that drawing can be a beautiful meditative alternative or complement to a traditional practice. The act of putting pen/pencil/paint/whatever to paper can bring your mind into incredibly sharp focus. By really looking at an object or scene, you are consciously observing your immediate surroundings and truly studying the shapes, the texture, the shadows, the contours. Your body is still but your mind is alert. This intense focus can be directed to the most innocuous of objects, similarly to the attention given to observing the rhythm of your breathing in a more traditional meditative state.
This act of true observance is then directly translated from your brain through the muscles of your hand as you pull the pen across the paper, recreating the world around you. Your mind and body act as a filter, distilling and recreating life around you. I think the connection created between your mind and body while drawing is an important one. The two must work together achieve the desired outcome, and having mind and body in sync can only benefit other areas of your life.
Though I don’t think you can really go as ‘deep’ into a meditative state with drawing as compared to traditional techniques, I believe the benefits to be similar in terms of stress relief and relaxation. Time starts to blur as your lose yourself in moment, focusing on the subtle nuances of each line traced onto the page. You aren’t thinking about something someone said 5 years ago, and you’re not worried about that big thing next week – your mind is intently focused on the immediate task in hand. Congratulations, you have achieved that beautiful state of ‘flow’. Sounds like meditation to me.
Bonus congratulations, as you now also have a personal work of art. Keep drawing, my friends.