A different approach to mindfulness

DU Meditation, Vis Arts and the Botanical society provide students with a weekly opportunity to unwind and relax

DU Meditation, Vis Arts and the Botanical society have joined forces this term to offer students a wonderful, weekly, mindful, botanical drawing session. The classes will be held on Tuesdays at 1pm in the campuses anatomy building, which is located just behind the Pav for our non-stem readers. A thoughtful collaboration between the three societies, this class offers a weekly respite from the noise and clamour that dominates our lives. This week’s session unfolded flawlessly. Paper and drawing pencils are provided allowing for any spontaneous drop-ins should you suddenly decide to attend a class and are worried about having forgotten drawing materials. Both live plants and a collection of very charming scientific fauna journals were available to use as drawing references. The option of drawing from the journals was fantastic. It can be easier for drawing novices to work from one and there were hundreds of plant illustrations for one to choose from. 

The aim of this thoughtful collaboration is to attempt to inject some harmony into the chaotic lives of our student body, by reminding them of the power of mindfulness and the power of silence in keeping our consciousness at ease. The term mindfulness has become a real buzzword as of late, but in essence, mindfulness is any activity undergone with your full focus on it. Drawing is a mindful activity. If you focus fully on what you are drawing, on the mechanical process of lifting and lowering your pencil from the page and your gaze from your object, you will often find that by the end, you have not been ruminating on deadlines, friendships, crushes, family, and other subjects that we overthink and exhaust our thoughts with.

September is an excellent time to pick up new mental health coping practices, so we can face the coming academic months without burning ourselves out emotionally. We are not trained to comfortably sit with our own thoughts, or rather the thoughts that are untrained and wander. The silence of the session was remarkably refreshing. As modern citizens of the world, we tend to be on the go, constantly preoccupied with some sort of noise or visual stimulus thanks to social media. Whether it’s your friend’s chatter over a rollie outside the arts block, your latest favourite song or podcast pouring into your ears or Netflix filling as you fall asleep, we are constantly distracted and it is no surprise that our brain is not well trained to enjoy a peaceful moment.

All too often our brains, when left to their own devices, tend to catastrophize and worry. This is a habit that we must try to break. I left this hour of complete noiselessness feeling as if I had just gone for an extremely relaxing swim. The silence rested so thickly upon the room that it was embarrassing to break it with the mechanical sounds of Trinity News’ camera. As I sat in this still environment I was aware that it was the collective quiet of the other thirty or so humans that made it all so harmonious. We were able to exist together in this space without talk, worry, or comparison and just focus on our own drawings and unconsciously relax and unwind together. So if you want to practice some much-needed mindfulness at this trying time of year or simply just draw some lovely botanicals in a tranquil environment, head for the anatomy building on Tuesday evenings.

Gráinne Quigley

Gráinne Quigley is a Deputy Societies Editor for Trinity News.