Mindfulness and ‘being mindful’ is really hard work. It is in direct opposition with our hectic lives. So I look at it like this, what in my life am I doing mindlessly and actually creating stress? For me, that’s an urge to answer all the questions that pop in to my head by Googling them. For example, today I ran out of face cleanser. ‘Oh, I wonder if I need cleanser? Can I wash my face without it?’ And then ensued a good 15 minutes of reading nonsense on the internet. So, in my ongoing quest not to use technology at every moment of downtime, I have started something I had down to a fine art in high school: doodling.
The other day I’d had a stressful day, and I was cooking dinner. I tend to have 5 minutes here and there when getting dinner ready and most of the time I’ll read the news or just absent-mindedly flick through my phone. But I knew that hunching over my phone mindlessly scrolling and flicking would just aggravate me so I sat at the table, stared in to the distance for a while, then picked up a pen and started scribbling. I’m no creative, but it was rewarding to see my pen move across the paper, to see the shapes I was making without really planning or thinking. And because I was concentrating at some level, I felt centred and aware. I wasn’t distracted, but I wasn’t totally there either. I was just drifting along, making strange geometrical shapes with my pen. It was only 5 or 10 minutes, but unlike my other attempts to dampen my stress, I felt able to deal with life again.
According to this article, while some see doodling as unfocused or unconscious drawing, others can see it as an exercise in mindfulness which creates an awareness of emotion or thoughts without feeling the need to engage in them if you don’t want to. And that really is the heart of mindfulness: the awareness and the choice to engage or not engage in the experience.
So doodling has made a come back in my life. I might even get some colours going soon!