Conscious Creativity – Be a mindful maker

Enjoy the calm and quiet of conscious creativity and craft projects

Picture the scene, it's cold and dark outside and you've arrived home from a stressful day at work. Back in the comfort of your abode, you shut the rest of the world out and pick up your latest crafty project. Suddenly your worries from the past few hours melt away as you find yourself immersed in the creative process. It's this magic that textile artist and teacher, Ellie Beck, writes about in her book, Mindful Thoughts for Makers, as she explores how getting crafty is intrinsic to true wellbeing. Here, she shares an extract about the soothing nature of settling down with an artistic hobby.

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One of the joys of being a maker is finding moments of quiet space to create something. In this ever-busy world we live in, sometimes stepping away from the noise can help us to find a deeper sense of meaning in our work. While it is true that not every aspect of our creative lives needs to be imbued with hushed tones, it is beneficial for our minds when we actively seek the internal quiet. The chatter of a knitting circle or a companion in your studio or at your kitchen table is always a welcome addition to the pleasure of sitting and creating something. But if you are always in company, with noise around you, it makes it harder to find the space needed to contemplate the depth of your creative work. Stepping outside group activities and sitting by yourself in the quiet of the day is an important part of any maker’s process.

It might seem hard to replace the enjoyment of creating alongside someone else with the endless silence of working alone, but once you have experienced your internal quiet it makes those moments seem more profoundly special, and something to seek out.

Inspiration from within
Conversations with our inner self during moments of creativity give us a deeper insight into who we are, and how we fit into the human world. Being a maker gives us the opportunity to delve into aspects of ourselves that are often overlooked in the everyday noise of life. It gives us a chance to tap into our innate creativity and ignore the external critics while we immerse ourselves in the joy of making. Of course, not every craft has the opportunity every day for quiet self-reflection, but unless we try to bring some moments of quiet into the act of making, we may end up spending too long looking outside for inspiration, rather than finding it internally.

Noticing which techniques during your practice best fit the quiet, mindful flow of internal conversation means you can schedule those practices during times when no one else is around. The quietest times in your day can coincide with the more mindful aspects of your practice. Working within the creative zone allows for things to flow without being over-analysed or self-judged. This can often result in sheer beauty in the finished piece – and at the very least you’ll have had a peaceful session at your work table.

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Finding your internal quiet
The rhythmic whirl of a potter’s wheel, the click of knitting needles, the thrum and whir of woodworking tools, the scratch of pencil on paper, the scrape of paint across cloth. Noticing these aspects of your daily work helps to guide you into a state of mindful contemplation. When you focus your mind on one noise or thing, your heart tunes into the sound of your creative work and you can slow time to just that moment. Next time you’re at your work table or in your studio, try to work without the radio turned on or a podcast playing, and see if you can tap into the quiet sounds around you, without holding onto any of them. In zen meditation, a beginner is asked not to ignore the external world but instead allow it to wash over them – to know it’s there, but not bring it into their practice.

Bringing quiet to a noisy world
To learn, through practice, how creativity and being a mindful maker can slow your mind, shows us ways to live in peace and find contentment in the quiet, mundane moments of our life. When you listen to your own heartbeat, and understand your breath, you can take this practice into the world and utilise it to bring slow mindfulness into everyday life. Until you’ve tried this yourself, it might seem strange or too hard to do, but through regularly seeking the quiet in each day, you’ll learn that you can take that quiet into the busyness of the world. Teaching yourself to tune into the stillness around you, perhaps watching a raindrop fall from a leaf, you’ll find that you will continue to actively seek stillness and quiet when faced with a regular day of noisy, stressful moments. Using the calmness that making can give you, and understanding that it is possible, you will find a new way of being.

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Extract from Mindful Thoughts for Makers:
Connecting Head, Heart, Hands by Ellie Beck, published by Leaping Hare Press, £6.99