10 Creative Exercises for the Mind & Soul
To celebrate the arrival of our gorgeous new illustrated journals, we want to take a creative journey with you in 2018.
In our last post, we talked about the impending New Year and recommended some book titles to help you achieve your goals or keep your resolutions for 2018. Many of you might have set yourself a creative challenge - perhaps you want write a book, learn how to play the piano, paint every day or dance more!
Creativity is undoubtedly magical. Countless studies show that creative practice can make us happier and more mindful. Art, music and writing are considered a genuine form of psychotherapy in some thought circles. They're also powerful communication tools - many people are able to express a thought in a painting, or a feeling in a poem, that they’re unable to convey in regular speech.
If you want to make creativity a more prominent part of your life in 2018, we’ve come up with ten creative exercises below to help you expand your imagination and ability. Further activities and inspirations are included in the pages of our new journal range, created by spiritual icons like Alana Fairchild, Lucy Cavendish and Ravynne Phelan. Your creations will be in good company here!
1. Draw a mandala
A mandala is an important spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism that represents the cosmos in a metaphorical form. Mandala images generally have an identifiable centrepoint, from which radiate a circular pattern of symbols and shapes in symmetrical segments.
Some people believe mandalas are a reflection of your soul. Designing your own mandala can help you reflect your inner spirit in a colourful and creative form, and the act of drawing one can be deeply meditative. For more information about purposefully creating your own mandala, and the spiritual history of this symbol, see here.
2. Walk & create in nature
Many of the great artists and poets find inspiration in the natural world. Whether it’s a beautiful landscape or a unique tree, the natural world is full of stunning visuals.
Take a walk in nature - be it the local park or a sprawling forest - sit down somewhere with a striking view, and draw or paint what you see. You might be surprised what you notice.
3. Write a haiku based on last night’s dreams
Haikus are a popular Japanese poems with a three-line syllabic format: five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables again. This strict format helps you refine your thoughts and carefully select each individual word.
Using your dreams as an inspiration will help you understand the inner workings of your subconscious. It can be hard to document dreams because they’re so fluid and erratic, so the haiku can provide the perfect template.
4. Compose a musical melody from items in the bathroom
Bathrooms don't seem like an obvious setting for creative inspiration. But everyone loves singing in the shower, and the best ideas sometimes come in the bathtub. Head to your bathroom and try to make a unique musical melody from the objects you find there. Consider different materials and textures and how they can work together to create an auditory delight. You can even try recording it to see how it sounds after.
5. Make a mood-board of your own fantasy world
Middle-earth, Narnia, Earthsea...disappearing into a fantasy world for a while can be exhilarating. Why not try making your own? Mood boards are a great way to map out ideas, normally taking the form of a large piece of cardboard or corkboard plastered with cut-out images, scraps of material, mementos or even findings from nature. You could also go digital and try making a Pinterest board. What would the landscapes in your fantasy world look like? The inhabitants? The food? The fashion? The possibilities are endless.
6. Create an emotion wheel
An emotion wheel is a simple art exercise used to navigate your emotions. All you need is a piece of paper and some coloured pens or pencils. On the paper, draw a large circle and split the circle into eight ‘pie’ slices. Assign each of the segments with a separate emotion - use the first eight that come to you. Then draw, colour or decorate that segment with your visual interpretation of that emotion.
This exercise can help you figure out what emotions might be plaguing you, or which ones you might need to focus more on. It’s particularly interesting to repeat the exercise throughout the year to visually see how your emotions change. For more information, see here.
7. Build a terrarium
Terrariums are a great way to bring a unique splash of nature into your home. These miniature gardens are simple and therapeutic to make. Materials you’ll need include: a glass jar or round vase, various small plants, rocks and pebbles, potting soil, moss, a scoop or shovel, and any decorative items you might want to use. Most of these things can be found in your local garden store.
For a full step-by-step guide to making your own mini garden, see here.
8. Invent a hybrid animal
Many mythical beasts are a combination of two creatures, from the chimera to the griffin. Have a go at coming up with your own hybrid creature by combining two or three of your favourite animals. Try to draw, sketch or paint the creature you come up with, or write a description of it that might be found in a magical zoology textbook. What’s its name? Is it tame or fierce? What habitat can it be found in? You might just be creating a brand new legend.
9. Construct a fashion accessory from items in your garden
Some of the best creativity comes from being resourceful. Head out to your garden or backyard - if you don’t have one, try a nearby park or green space - and try making an item of jewelry or other fashion ornament from materials you find there. Grass, vines, leaves, tree barks, natural fibres, flowers, twigs or even bits of debris can all become components of a beautiful new accessory. And it’s always nice to have a bit of nature to carry around with you.
10. Design a Zentangle
Similar to creating a mandala, the Zentangle method is a mindful drawing exercise. The activity is inspired by art from numerous ancient cultures from the Mayans to the Celts. You can create your own Zentangle with nothing more than a square piece of paper and a pen, on which you create an abstract drawing based on structured patterns. This method can help you relax, focus and expand your imagination. For more information, see here.
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