Seated on the floor around the tranquil Amida Buddha we all strived to allow our minds and bodies to forget the tensions and stresses of our lives for a short time as part of the monthly mindfulness series of Meditation in the Museum at the David Owsley Museum of Art. The October meditation was my first time taking part in Meditation in the Museum, which proved to be an enjoyable experience after a long week of school and work. To introduce us to meditation, Sylwia Hodorek and Anca Barsan-Cayro of BSU Conseling Services led us in a brief mindfulness exercise and explained some of the benefits of taking time in your daily life to meditate. They explained that meditation can reduce one’s stress level, improve many of our body’s mental and physical conditions, and also substitute for a nap in its ability to rejuvenate your body and mind.
The main focus of October’s Meditation in the Museum was mindfulness through creative actions, which was observed through the coloring of mandalas. Mandalas are circular designs that are used for focus and balance during meditation, and are often associated with spiritual traditions among many religions. We were each asked to select a mandala and color it while clearing our minds and relaxing our bodies.
One of those present for the meditation, Marc Devine, described his experience coloring his mandala:
“While coloring the mandala, I began to become aware of my breathing in relation to how I was thinking about the task. If thoughts began to enter my head that I should speed up and try to finish the mandala, I noticed that my breath would increase, as well the tempo of my movements in coloring would also increase. When this type of thing would occur, I would invite myself back to simply breathing at a more ‘relaxed’ rate and to allow myself to focus on the sensation of coloring within my fingertips, extending through my hands and connecting to the rest of my body.
As I chose colors, I would allow my eyes to wander, much like I did when I chose the mandala, and allowed them to land on whatever color they were drawn to. I trusted that choice, or perhaps simply didn’t question it, and that color became the one that I would use for a period of time. I would color certain shapes for a period of time, as long as it felt right.”
Coloring the mandalas allowed for a chance to think without rules and take the time to allow our minds and bodies to react naturally to how we were interacting with the mandala. My experience with coloring my mandala took me back to spending time as a child coloring as my thoughts freely spun in my head. I felt it was a very calming and reflective time to return to the mindset of a child.
The act of meditation is meant to affect more than just the time that is set aside to meditate. It is meant to bring more of a balance to daily life and teach you to become mindful of how life’s tasks affect your body and mind. Marc Devine also commented on how the short time he spent meditating played a role in the rest of his day:
“I believe that this experience did stay with me after I left the museum. I noticed myself feeling very calm and grounded through the rest of the evening. I noticed a sense of ease to how I performed tasks throughout the remainder of the day, without a sense of rushing or anxiety. And if at any point I did notice those thoughts of ‘needing to do something quickly’ creeping in, I would think back to the mandala experience, and ask myself to let whatever task that I was doing at the moment happen in its own time.”
If you’ve been feeling stressed, perhaps incorporating a short time of meditation in your day would improve the way you feel and how you handle the challenges of your day. You could try meditative coloring or time closing your eyes with your body relaxed to clear your mind and release the tension in your body. I would also like to invite you to the next Meditation in the Museum, Friday, November 21st at 3:30pm. The focus of the next mindfulness session is Body Scan.
The body scan is a way to get in touch with the body, help your mind become more focused, improve your attention, shift your attention away from your thoughts, relax your body, help you with sleep, and become aware of the moment versus all the things you need to do in the future.
Participants will be asked to lay down on the floor so it’s recommended they bring a yoga mat, blanket, or a towel to the meditation group. One of the facilitators will lead the group in the body scan exercise that will last approximately 30-40 minutes. The entire meditation group will be one hour long and it’s recommended to arrive on time because once we start the exercise we won’t be able to allow others to start late.
Hope to see you there!