The next cycle for the DBT/Art Therapy group will focus on the skill of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the idea of how we can be present in this current moment, and it is very much a skill that one needs to practice. Our days are generally full of worries about the future, regrets about the past, judgments and criticisms of others and ourselves, hurts and transgressions... it is no wonder that we are overloaded and have difficulty with the idea of being present.
So what happens when we are present? Perhaps by giving our brains a much needed break from all of those previously mentioned challenges, it allows for a decrease in feelings of anxiety and stress. We are able in those moments of mindfulness to opt for more positive coping strategies to regulate difficult emotions. It has also been shown that having a practice of mindfulness improves our working memory and our ability to focus.
Art has always been for me a mindfulness practice. It is the way that I most easily transcend rumination, and move to a place of presence. Art engages my senses, my brain, as well as my physical being in a way that allows me to submerge myself in what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as "flow"... a place of optimal experience and creativity. It is the medicine my psyche needs when the world is too much.
This morning, I woke up, and wanted to do a mindfulness experiment outside. I had recently received a macro-camera lens for my phone, but still hadn't used it. So, I pulled it out of the box and decided to investigate my backyard. I breathed in the fresh air. I watched how light and shadow fell across my yard. I noticed each thing closely. I used visual observation and focus as a means of being present. And I took some photographs. And it felt wonderful.
Go outside. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice your stomach moving with each breath. Smell the air around you. Feel the temperature. Engage your senses.
Now look around. Take in your surroundings. What interests you? Where do your eyes focus? What can you see? Notice light and color. Notice your own shadow. Take some pictures.