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Utilizing Breath Awareness in Art Therapy: Drawing the Breath

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

Breath awareness is a mindfulness practice that involves paying attention to our breath in a non-judgmental way. Breath awareness can be used in many forms of therapy, including art therapy. By combining breath awareness with art-making, we can tap into a deeper level of creativity, self-expression, and emotional regulation. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between art and breath awareness, the benefits of combining these practices, and discuss a technique to utilize in your own art-making process.

Focusing on the breath is a common technique used in mindfulness practices to help bring one's attention to the present moment through the movement of the breath. Mindfulness is a state of active, non-judgmental awareness of one's thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. As the breath is always present, it can serve as an anchor to help individuals stay focused and centered in a mindful way. By paying attention to the breath, one can become more aware of the sensations in their body and the state of their mind.

Breath awareness can also help individuals to regulate their emotions and reduce stress. By taking slow, deep breaths, individuals can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm the body and reduce feelings of anxiety and tension.

Breath awareness is a mindfulness technique that involves paying attention to the physical sensations of breathing. This can include noticing the rise and fall of the chest or the sensation of air moving in and out of the nostrils.

Breath awareness is important for wellness and mental health for several reasons:

  1. Helps to reduce stress: When we focus on the breath, it can help to calm the mind and body. This can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the "rest and digest" response. By activating this system, we can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

  2. Enhances concentration and focus: When we practice breath awareness, we train our minds to focus on the present moment. This can help us to stay present and engaged in our daily activities, which can enhance our sense of groundedness.

  3. Increases self-awareness: By paying attention to the breath, we become more aware of our thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. This increased self-awareness can help us to better understand ourselves and our reactions to various situations.

  4. Promotes relaxation and better sleep: Breath awareness can help us to relax and unwind, which can promote better sleep. When we are relaxed, our sense of body tension is reduced and the intensity of anxiety is reduced.

By incorporating breath awareness into art therapy, we can use their art-making process to explore and express our emotions in a safe and supportive environment. The idea of connecting breath awareness with art in art therapy is based on the belief that paying attention to our breath can help us regulate our emotions and improve our overall well-being.

If you are interested in applying this concept into your own artmaking practice, consider what it would mean for you to draw or paint your breath. Using a variety of drawing materials, allow yourself to create lines and shapes in various colors and strokes to represent the breath. For example, you could use blue to represent the inhale and red to represent the exhale, and or create a painting that shows the flow of air in and out of the body using various curved and free flowing lines and brush strokes. Remember that there is no wrong way to complete this exercise!

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