Starting Friday, June 3, artist Lauren Braun wants to help you add some mindfulness to your craft practice. She’ll be leading a six-week workshop, Meditation and Craft, on Friday mornings from 9-10 AM. Leading up to her workshop, we decided to catch up with Lauren and learn more about meditation, her practice, and how meditation can have a positive impact on your life and artistic endeavors.
The space where Art, Mindfulness and Healing all come together feels juicy and exciting to me. My intention is to be open and curious about learning.
Can you tell us a bit about your craft practice, and how you came to that practice?
I’m a collage artist. I draw, paint and cut out the imagery that I use for my collage work. I also sculpt flowers and shells out of acrylic skins, and paperclay. My work has gone through stylistic changes over the past two years. Before the pandemic I was working on a long-term series of architecturally themed Rust Belt collages. During the pandemic, my mission was to explore a variety of materials, spend time researching the Art Deco Movement, and work through smaller scale studies until I arrived at a new place in my artwork.
And what brought you to meditation?
In 2016 I used the Calm app and I listened to the 10% Happier podcast with Dan Harris to learn from meditators and scientists who discussed a range of topics related to meditation. In 2017, I attended an overnight LovingKindness meditation retreat with Sharon Salzberg. Meanwhile, I kept meditating on my own and with a group at the Pittsburgh Shambhala Center. In 2021 I enrolled in a yearlong virtual Mindfulness Facilitator Certification program through the Copper Beech Institute. The 200-hour training was a deep dive into my own meditation practice and learning how to facilitate.
Can you tell us a bit about what your meditation practice looks like?
My practice is expansive and can look like any of the following: seated meditation, exercise or gentle movement, creative writing and journaling, walking, practicing mindfulness in my art studio.
I sit in meditation for 20 minutes each morning. Each day is different, and my practice is about witnessing myself and getting to know my thought patterns. I sit with my eyes closed and often 18 of the minutes are spent realizing that I’m lost in thought and bringing myself back to my breathing.
I also practice daily journaling, writing about what I’m feeling and thinking. Recently I’ve been doing more creative writing in the form of stories and poems related to my artwork.
Throughout the day I do a mini check in with myself, a mindful pause to ask: How is my breathing? Am I present or distracted? Am I rushing?
And at the end of the day when I’m getting ready to go to sleep, I take a moment to ponder what I’m excited about for the next day.
What role does meditation have in the life of an artist? What benefits can artists enjoy from meditation?
Meditation has helped me to identify when I feel resistance to doing something new and to take small steps to move through the resistance. It has helped me to trust myself and listen to my intuition. And it has helped me to open up to approaching both art and life with more creativity.
How has meditation impacted your own life and practice?
Meditation has been incredibly beneficial. It has helped me get to know my authentic self, to not judge my feelings, and to practice loving myself more (a challenging skill for humans, in general). I have a better understanding of my own patterns and habits that hold me back. For example, I’ve struggled with what I will name as shyness for most of my life. It is something that is deeply rooted in my childhood. When I think about how to describe my shyness – how it feels in my body – it is related to fear and anxiety, a frozen feeling like I’m bracing myself and holding my breath. Meditation has enabled me to feel those sensations and unwind the story I was continually telling myself about being shy. It has given me some tools to feel more present and grounded.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The space where Art, Mindfulness and Healing all come together feels juicy and exciting to me. My intention is to be open and curious about learning. When I’ve felt stuck, I have learned that it helps to imagine life in a flowing state. The thoughts that I tell myself become amplified so if I repeat that I’m stuck, that becomes my reality. My perception changes when I focus on the creative flow of life. Meditation has been key for understanding those kinds of mindset shifts.
If this piques your interest and you want to register for the workshop or get some more information, CLICK HERE.
All photos by Porter Loves.