Pebble doodling for mindfulness
Mindful doodling is a great way to step back from our worries – and gives us the chance to create something beautiful at the same time
Just let go of your anxious thoughts and allow your mind to drift while you work on your stone. You don't need to have a plan or a design in mind, simply follow your imagination and see where it takes you!
Even the process of gathering pebbles offers an opportunity for a spot of mindful relaxation.
Head to your local river bank and spend time searching for the perfect pebbles – look for rounded ones with a smooth surface for drawing. (Please note – in the UK it's illegal to take stones from beaches, but you can often find them in your local garden centre).
Roll the stone between your fingers and examine it – what colours can you see within the stone? Does it have veins? Think about how it feels between your fingers.
Don't rush the process. Take the time to look for stones that are a pleasing shape and colour, and think about how they will look together.
Take some deep breaths and allow yourself time to wander along the shore or river bank, observing the colours and the movement of the water.
Once you've returned home, you can recall the peace and relaxation of nature by mindfully decorating your stones.
Begin by getting into the right state of mind – find somewhere comfortable to sit and make yourself a drink. Allow yourself to become absorbed in the act of drawing.
"With our thinking minds calmed, fully absorbed and in the flow, we come into a state of being characterised by a sense of open, spacious awareness," says Wendy-Ann Greenhalgh in her book Mindfulness and the Art of Drawing.
"We no longer need to think of the future or the past – we are only in the present moment. We don't have to force anything or make anything happen, it happens naturally – it flows."
Ready to make your decorated pebbles? Read on to find out how...
Make a decorated pebble
You will need:
- Gel pens (we've used white Gelly Roll pens)
- Clear varnish or PVA glue (optional)
How to decorate your pebble with doodles
- Select your pebble carefully and think about how you will decorate it before you start. Will you draw swirls? Hearts? A cat? Or go for a more intricate pattern like a mandala?
- Take a gel pen and draw onto your pebble. You may find that you need to go over the lines a few times in order to make the pattern clearer. If the ink stops flowing, you may need to scribble on a piece of paper to get it going again.
- You can seal the pattern with some PVA glue to give a glossy finish if you're keeping it indoors. If you're planning to leave your stone outside, then coat the pebble with some clear varnish to make it waterproof.
- Find a home for your pebbles. They look great placed in a bowl or scattered around a fireplace – you can even use them as paperweights!
Try a mindful doodling exercise
Let’s try a simple drawing exercise. We suggest you try it for five to ten minutes to start with.
- Get a piece of A4 paper and a pencil or a pen. Sit comfortably, holding your pencil as you would normally. Keep the tip resting on the page and close your eyes.
- Take a few moments to focus on the feeling of your pencil between your fingers. This is something we do almost every day – we write, we scribble notes, we sign our name, but very rarely do we pay attention to how it actually feels to hold a pen in our hand.
- See if you can notice the different places the pencil presses against your skin. Is it resting on a knuckle or on the soft pads of your fingers? Is the surface rough or smooth? How does it feel? Experiment with how you hold the pencil. Are you holding it tightly or with a loose and relaxed grip? Can you loosen or tighten your hold so that it feels poised and yet still relaxed?
- Start to make some simple shapes on the page – all the time keeping your eyes closed. Make shapes simply because it feels good to make them. They might be continuous circles or spirals, zig-zags, straight lines, wavy lines, geometric type shapes, anything at all, just one or a combination of all.
- Keep your eyes closed and resist the urge to peek. Don’t try to draw anything in particular; you’re not drawing either from life or from your imagination here, you’re just doodling, just making marks, just making marks that feel instinctive and enjoyable to make.
- When you feel yourself getting a little tired or bored with one shape, change your focus and draw another shape. Keep coming back to the sensation of your hand drawing, brushing against the paper, holding the pencil. Keep drawing – keep doodling just what feels good, the shapes you feel you instinctively want to.
Exercise taken from Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing by Wendy-Ann Greenhalgh, Published by Leaping Hare Press, RRP £8.99.
Photos by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash