Anna posed some questions to us about our experience of mindfulness so far. This was a good opportunity to really reflect on how this has benefited me in both this project and my general wellbeing. These are my responses to the questions.
Does the mindfulness practice feel relevant to your creative practice and/or the work for your project?
For my creative practice yes, I think mindfulness enables me to have a clearer and more positive approach towards the creative work I’m doing. It allows me to let go a little bit from the stresses of a final piece or set of outcomes – and instead frees me up to explore the process non-judgmentally. This appreciation then naturally informs an organic final piece. I feel like for this project its been particularly helpful, as I have found the way of working in this project very different from my usual approach to work. It has felt a lot more structured than I’m used to (though it has been of benefit to work in a different style). However, bringing mindfulness into the structure of the project has helped to create a more organic feel – and has definitely helped me to approach alternative ways of working with a more open mind.
How have you felt during the mindfulness practice?
Sometimes it has been quite difficult – if I’m feeling particularly restless or have something on my mind. But it is helpful spending time to almost neutralise how I’m feeling and sort of ‘reset’ my mood. I have found morning sessions a lot better than afternoon, as I feel a lot more open to the experience and my mind is a lot clearer. In the afternoon however I often feel a lot more restless and my mind is full of ideas and thoughts in response to the activities of the day. I have noticed that a lot of things are also heightened during the mindfulness sessions, for example my hearing and awareness of my body become a lot stronger. But its helpful when Anna reminds us to accept these things non-judgmentally and return the focus to the breath.
How have you felt after the mindfulness practice?
After the sessions I have felt a lot more calm and receptive. It often feels like a ‘reset’, like a sleep feels like the end of one day and the start of another – the mindfulness sessions help me to come to whatever it is I’m doing with a renewed mindset. I feel a lot more peaceful and my thinking is a lot clearer and more receptive.
How many sessions have you done so far?
Have you practiced at home, if so, how often?
I do it sometimes at home, a lot of the time in connection with deep breathing exercises that I already do. I tend to begin with deep breathing exercises to calm myself if I am feeling anxious or tense, and then turn to observing the natural breath. I find that this helps to refresh me and calm me down if I am struggling with anxiety. I have also been doing the mindfulness often as a replacement for naps – it acts as a refresher if I don’t have enough time for a nap, and makes me feel less groggy and disorientated than a nap would. I do this probably around once or twice a week outside the sessions, depending on how I’m feeling – the more stressed I am, the more mindfulness I do.
In the short time that you have been practicing mindfulness, have you noticed any difference in your experience of creative work? In particular your experience of creative flow?
I haven’t had many times in the period of time doing this projects where I have experienced long periods of creative flow in relation to creative practice. But there have been times of it during brain storming or processing ideas – where I’ve been able to generate and express thoughts and ideas more clearly than usual. What I have also experienced is myself becoming a lot more receptive to the ideas of others. This has helped in times of creative block as I have then been a lot more engaged with other people’s ideas and advice, which has allowed me to move past this. I really feel that not having this block has helped the process of this project flow a lot more easily.
How much does your creative flow relate to your sense of your own wellbeing?
Not having creative block definitely helps lower stress levels and pressure – especially whilst working within tight deadlines. Creative block just before an imminent deadline is incredibly stress inducing, which in turn affects many aspects of physical and mental wellbeing. And so being able to take time out to stop stressing has been very beneficial, it also puts things into perspective and acts as a reminder for our need to take time out. The mindfulness aspect of this project has reminded me that stressing every waking hour about producing ideas and outcomes, does not actually help you to generate better ideas and outcomes – in fact it hinders this process. Being fair to ourselves, allowing for breaks and time out specifically to just accept and be mindful of what is happening is actually something that benefits the process and allows for a much more organic unraveling of ideas and outcomes. It encourages you to be a lot more playful with the process and, I have found, just drastically reduces the stress levels associated with meeting deadlines and demands.