Here is a ten-minute brain break for relaxing into a pleasing and undemanding creative moment.
Have you ever heard how it’s healthy to take a pause and do nothing?
It’s for real.
Sometimes doing nothing is doing something. Studies have shown that our minds do better, and are more agile when we give them breaks. Experts tell us to study for 25 minutes, take a short break, study another 25, and so on. Interested? Have a look at the Pomodoro Technique.
Read on for a creative brain break with a sprinkling of simple mindfulness tips.
What you need:
Something to draw with
Something to draw on
A willingness to let yourself focus fully on putting pen to paper and making marks
Physical Space. Settle yourself into a spot where you can feel comfortable and free of distractions. If you can, tidy up your little space. Clear it of any clutter that doesn’t make you happy. Take it a step further and find a little object that does make you happy, and set it there with you.
Mind Space. As this is both a creative and a mindfulness brain break, take a pause to bring your thoughts into the immediate moment. Grant yourself permission to take this 10-minute break from your responsibilities, your to-dos, and even from your worries. Don’t worry. They’ll still be there for you when you finish.
Simply put, practicing mindfulness can be bringing yourself fully and consciously into the moment while giving your non-judgmental attention to your senses. This short mindfulness exercise will help you to focus more fully on and get briefly lost in the creative activity below.
“5-4-3-2-1” is a simple exercise you can do anytime you notice you might want to bring yourself a little more fully into the moment.
Notice 5 things you can see.
Notice 4 things you can hear.
Notice 3 things you can feel on your skin.
Notice 2 things you can smell or taste.
Notice how you feel inside.
Try to do this without making any value judgments, criticisms, or other emotional commentary. Simply notice your surroundings. Chances are you might finish feeling a little bit more grounded and calm than when you began.
Step One: Using your drawing utensil, slowly draw a smallish circle on your page.
Pay attention to the whole tiny little process. Watch as you put the pen to the paper. Notice the feeling of your hand brushing minutely across the paper’s surface. Try to hear the sound of the pen or pencil on the paper as you make your mark. Notice how your body feels, try to release any muscles you notice tensing. Breathe.
Step Two: Repeat step one, again and again. Pay attention to each little circle you create, as you create it. Be sure that you connect the end point of each circle to its beginning point. Draw slowly enough and mindfully enough that you do this every time. It’s easy to lose focus and start drawing raggedy, un-closed, poor little things or circle-ish things with overlapping ends. When you notice you’re doing this DON’T berate yourself, just – Pause, Breathe, and Re-Affix your Focus to each of your little circles. And keep on drawing. Slow and sure and focused. Breathe.
Step Three: Variations. Make smaller circles. Make bigger circles. Nestle one next to the other and so on. Play around with spirals. Spiral inward. Spiral outward, but always close up your circles, end to end.
Step Four: Notice your thoughts. Try to let them pass on by. You can think about those things later. Indulge all of your thoughts on that circle-scape growing beneath your hand. Remember to not judge yourself over any part of this activity. Wandering thoughts are expected. Wobbly circles are fine. Squished oval-like circles are interesting. The big thing to do is to let your circles be complete – the end bit connecting with the beginning bit.
No, this is not a Stephen King book/movie!
This is the part of the activity that carries on... into the fuutuurrre...
SHARE – Show someone your creation. Point out the bits you especially like and tell them about your experience drawing it. Your experience is the special thing of this activity. The finished product is secondary to your quiet moment creating it. The finished result can be a souvenir reminding you of that first trip you took to Circle-Drawing-Landia for a few minutes one sunny afternoon.
SHINE – As you do things that help connect you and your senses to the moment, you are building mindfulness muscles. These can serve you throughout your day, particularly in moments when you start feeling overwhelmed by everything, or worried about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Even in moments in which you’re feeling relaxed and calm, try doing the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise just to see what you notice, and whether you feel any difference from when you started.
Remember to be gentle with yourself when practicing mindfulness exercises. Even if you notice no change, you can be proud of yourself for trying.
CELEBRATE – Just as you may have noticed how good it made you feel when you showed someone what you did and they responded positively to you, look for moments when you might be able to do that for someone else. YOU be that kind observer who “ooo’s and ahh’s” over something a friend or a loved one has done or created.
Interested in more mindfulness toos? Have a look at this deep breathing exercise.