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Drawing Down the Breath: Restoring Balance Through Mindful Art Practices
With Marianne Gunther
In this three-session course, participants will have an opportunity to discover the healing power of simple drawing practices to relax our nervous system, increase self-awareness and activate self-expression. Similar to yoga, which is the union of breath and body, Drawing Down the Breath provides an opportunity to bring union to our body (hands), heart (emotions), and mind (imagination) through breath-directed drawing.
As a licensed creative-arts psychotherapist and a longtime Buddhist practitioner, Marianne Gunther integrates mindful practices with creative interventions, and has a desire to help people feel safe and at home in their bodies.
Anchoring the beginning of sessions with mindful breathing opens the way to introduce the art therapy exercises presented in this class. The traditional mindfulness meditation practices focus on stillness, sitting, and quietly bringing awareness to one’s body, heart, and mind. In this class, participants will be invited to discover how the awareness of our breath in tandem with drawing, offers physical release and self-expression. No artistic experience is necessary—just an open mind and willingness to scribble!
Session One: Warming Up the Whole Brain
Bilateral drawing has been around since the 1950s. It is not an exercise in creating a specific image, but rather an exercise in spontaneous drawing using both hands; and at the same time using pencils, felt tip pens, pastel (chalks) or other easily available materials. It engages the whole body in natural rhythms and can be expanded to large sheets of paper where bigger gestural movements and marks can be made. Bilateral simply means ‘involving both sides.’ The experiential evidence of art therapy suggests that bilateral drawing affects cross-hemisphere activity, and allows explicit memory to be connected to implicit memory (Malchiodi, 2002/2011/2015).
We will begin with a meditative bilateral guided drawing process, followed by a group discussion. Prompts and links to videos will be given to encourage participants to continue doing the bilateral drawing throughout the week.
Session Two: Body Scan
The class will begin with a breathing bilateral meditation, followed by a brief check-in about the week’s homework. Students are encouraged to email photographs of any artwork in advance to share on screen. In this session, we will deepen the bilateral drawing experience by going deeper into our somatic experience. Using large pieces of paper and pastel chalk, participants will conduct a body scan, breathing into one’s body, while bilaterally moving the chalk in response to one’s body’s visceral experience. For example, one may feel a knot in one’s neck, you “massage” the knot with the rhythmic movements of the chalk. In this way, the drawing is more of a physical expression of one’s somatic experience, rather than an illustration. As in the previous session, this embodied experience will be followed by group discussion.
Session Three: Mandala—A Map and Mirror of the Universal Self
As in the previous two sessions, the class will begin with breathing bilateral drawing followed by a brief check-in about last week’s homework. In this session, we will use symbols to create mandalas to express our inner experience. A PowerPoint presentation on the work of Carl Jung will be presented in tandem with the drawing exercises. As in the previous session, there will be time for group discussion.
• Sketch pads 11 x 14″ and 9 x 12″
• Black drawing paper 11 x 14″
• Ebony or 2B pencil
• Kneaded eraser
• Colored chalks/pastels in a variety of colors or Caran d’Ache Water Soluble Wax Pastels (10 color set)
Faculty: Marianne Gunther
Schedule: Three Mondays: February 13, 20, 27 from 6:30 – 8:00pm ET
Tuition: Regular fee: $90 / Supported fee: $60
The tuition is for all three evenings. (Can’t make all 3 dates? Each session is recorded and will be available for 6 weeks for those who registered.)
Location: Online via Zoom
Registration: Register now
February 20 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
An event every week that begins at 6:30 pm on Monday, repeating until February 27, 2023