Pottery and Meditation: Can The Two Work in Tandem?
You feel the warm clay in your hands.
You smell the earth & your mind relaxes.
This is your happy place.
The very idea of putting pottery and meditation together may not be the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to you relaxing. However, when you look closely at both activities, it suddenly becomes more apparent that they are actually capable of working in perfect harmony. The reason for this is more straightforward than you may have previously imagined.
To understand it, we have to look at how both approaches can be used independently to relieve stress, because it will then make more sense as to why they should indeed be brought together.
It has long been accepted that being creative is a wonderful way to ease stress. It gets the mind to focus on something else aside from whatever it is that is worrying you or stressing you out. If you look closely at therapy for stress around the world, then you will notice that art therapy is widely used, and it is because of the positive results that it can generate for those individuals that are taking part.
When you are being creative, you are using a different part of your brain to when you are merely sitting there stressing. It's as if those issues melt into the background - simply because your brain does not allow them to come to the front at this point. You get lost in the moment, purely focused on whatever it is that you are doing. You are "In the Zone", and that is an excellent state of mind to be in. Pottery is a wonderful example of this approach in action. Your mind needs to focus on the task at hand; from creating the idea in your mind, preparing the clay, working & feeling the clay, and eventually bringing your idea to life.
However, let's look at it in more detail regarding the mind, and how pottery has such a positive impact on the brain. By focusing on something such as working with clay, it provides you with the perfect opportunity to indulge in what is essentially a form of meditation known as mindfulness. With this, you focus purely on what is in front of you and take in every aspect. You look at the clay, you think of the texture that it has in your hands. You look at your creation as it evolves and study it from various angles. You effectively become lost in what you are making, and at that moment in time, nothing else matters.
Mindfulness, and meditation, in general, has a number of actual benefits to both body and mind. It is known to bring down your blood pressure and heart rate. This act of focusing your mind leads to a reduction in anxiety as well as the level of hormones and chemicals that are released by the brain when you are stressed. It's no coincidence that you notice your adrenaline starts to decrease when you allow yourself to become lost in some other activity. Just stop and think about this for a moment. How nice would it feel for you if being creative led to you having a greater sense of peace of mind mixed in with a real feeling of tranquility at the same time. Compare that to how your mind feels when you are stressed, and you will being to really understand why something such as working with clay can be so beneficial.
But there's more to it than that.
Working with clay is going to allow you to express yourself and the only way in which you can successfully do this is by being creative. The ability to be free and produce anything that you want is so much better for your state of mind than following a template of some kind. Whatever you produce doesn't even need to be perfect. In fact, it's not even what you make that is important but more the process that you go through when doing so. Being creative in this way has been shown to boost self-awareness as it provides an outlet for our emotions and feelings to be expressed like never before. Often, stress can be attributed to what is basically a blockage of those feelings in our mind as we keep things bottled up until we get to the point that we struggle to express things in a succinct manner.
When you work with clay, you are going to make mistakes. You are also going to make a mess of the surrounding area. If you are producing a pot and it's your first time, then there's a very real chance that clay will be flying off the wheel and all up the walls. But none of that matters. You learn that you can just start again and the world hasn't stopped in the meantime. You become more aware of what is key and how it's just not worth worrying about so many things that tend to plague your mind. Furthermore, you will tend to make mistakes as you create something or you discover that your initial ideas just don't work out the way you intended. Thanks to this, you will learn to become more resilient as you seek to tackle things from a different perspective until you reach your end goal. As they say, there are times where life just doesn't work out the way you hoped it would, but you can still achieve things if you don't worry about it.
Overall, pottery and meditation are perfect for one another.
Not only is it creative and allows you to be expressive, but it provides you with the ideal platform for just allowing your own self to forget about what is going on in your life and drift away into another world. Remember, it's all about the process you go through when making with clay, not just about the end result. There's no need to be able to produce some stunning piece of artwork or the most elaborate pot that you have ever seen in your life. Just enjoy the act of feeling happy about producing something and enjoying the way in which it has helped you to just calm your mind and brought your stress levels down.
We recommend the following CDs for Meditating in your studio:
And if you want to learn more about meditation, then we suggest you read the following books: