Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Art of Meditation

About 18 months ago I learnt how to meditate properly.  Up until then I tried closing my eyes and listening to music but it wasn't until I started following guided meditations that things really started to take off!  I'm now much better at it, don't need to be guided and have automatically learnt to switch off from distractions around me.

Its great for de-stressing as it brings a sense of calm and quietens an overactive mind (be it from the worries of the day or just too much going on in the head). I also find meditation provides me with solutions to problems and inspires creative ideas - its all to do with relaxing the mind and shutting out the unnecessary "chatter".

It doesn't need to be done every day and can last from 5 minutes to over an hour - its worth finding time for.

There are other ways to get into meditation and one of these is through art.

Last week I was in town and popped into The Works - sad to see they were closing down as they have some great book bargains in there.  I picked up a discount copy of Zen Doodling by Carolyn Scrace.  To quote from the back cover: "Zen Doodling releases your creativity while the designs' repetitive nature focuses your mind, encourages a sense of inner calm and tranquility and aids meditation".  

I doodle a lot whilst on the phone at work and there's definitely a close link with the mind because if I'm on a difficult phone call, my scribbles will be heavy and dark with lots of pointy shapes, but if I'm on a good phone call there'll be lots of swirly, flowing shapes.  

Zen doodling can be just used for relaxation or it can take the basic everyday doodles to another level so that they can be developed into surface designs and applied to textiles, ceramics, photo frames, metal, card etc.

I intended to stop at this point when talking about meditative art when, by sheer coincidence, I saw an advertisement on TV for this -

A new publication launched this week, simply called Art Therapy.  You don't even have to doodle for this one - just colour in.  The magazine reflects that colouring can enhance your concentration, free your mind, spark creativity, relieve stress and reconnect with your inner child.

The publication includes mandalas because their intricate patterns are absorbing to work with and have a meditative effect.  In fact the word "Mandala" means "sacred circle" and in Eastern cultures are symbols of wholeness and eternity.

I love how meditation and creativity are linked and this week, during a meditation whilst thinking about primroses and violets (I didn't plan it, they just popped into my thoughts!), the image of this bracelet came in to my head so I had to make it ...

Bracelet of citrine gemstone nuggets with purple and yellow quartz gemstone nuggets, using rose gold plated findings and copper coloured wire

I'm linking again this week with Planet Penny's Happy Friday

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Saturday, 21 March 2015

An Eclipse, A Sculpture and a Very Long Pier

What an interesting Friday - the Spring Equinox and a solar eclipse happening on the same day!  

Its been a happy but busy week this week.  I was very grateful to receive this beautiful scarf - no particular reason other than the person giving it away didn't want it so I was happy to give it a new home!  Very uplifting and a sign that my wardrobe is now about to make the transition from winter to spring clothing....

I've had no free time this week to work on my own projects as have been helping Mr Cocopopia with his current sculpture project.  To cut a long story short, we've had to move a piece of his work by lifting it both over our roof and the neighbours' roof in order to get it out of our garden (where his workshop is) and delivered to a new workshop elsewhere as its too big to get through the alleyway along the side of our house!  

Probably one of the most ridiculous things we've ever had to do ...

We used what Mr Cocopopia called "the building the pyramids technique" to get it slowly winched up along the length of a ladder to be lifted up onto the flat roof. We started after work on Thursday evening when it was still light, but it was dark by the time we finished.  The next day (actually during the eclipse) we moved it across the roof and lowered it down to the ground below.  You can see from this photo (which was taken pointing east towards the rising sun) that there was thick cloud cover where we were and so we didn't really witness much an eclipse, just a bit of a darker morning than usual!

The good thing about the day was that we were off work from our day jobs and had a trip to Essex with the sculpture piece in tow.  We took time out for lunch and found ourselves in Southend-on-Sea, a place I've never been to before.

Apparently, Southend pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world and even has a small train on it, but we were pushed for time and so sadly had to give it a miss.  

We settled for lunch at Rossi's - they have an excellent reputation for their traditionally made ice-cream but we needed solid food and settled for their all day breakfasts instead, which were pretty good.

I'm linking in again with Happy Friday over at Planet Penny

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Finding a little corner of Africa in the city

At the week-end, whilst on a family visit to Birmingham, we visited the best garden centre ever!

Visiting Akamba is like stepping out of the city and finding yourself in the heart of Africa - surrounded by animal sculptures, exotic plants, wooden huts for enjoying a break from your "safari" and the gentle sound of African music in the air.  There's a large and cosy restaurant and also a gift shop selling all sorts of hand-crafted items.  We loved the extra touch of providing blankets for wrapping up in when sitting in the cold. The place also doubles as a music venue in the evenings.

We visited on a cold, late winter/early spring day but can imagine in the summer sunshine it would be a brilliant place to be (and there's even a "beach")

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dare I Say It?

Well, the seagulls have been sunbathing on next door's garage roof, the cats are spending more and more time outdoors, suddenly there are birds all around the garden a tweeting and a swooping, it's still light when I come home from work and its getting too warm in the daytime to wear my winter coat.  Is it time to pack away the onesie until next winter - and, dare I say it, is spring really here already?

There are flowers popping up in the garden (and creatures already waking out of hibernation and nibbling them, by the looks of things)

and a certain Mr P was following me around, asking to have his picture taken too.

Creatively this week, I've been playing around with crocheted wire, gemstones and pearls to make some ethereal jewellery

Once again, I'm linking in with Planet Penny's Happy Friday 

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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Stars, Time and Ships - Part 2

Continuing with the story of our day trip to Greenwich a week and a half ago.  We made our way to the market which was very busy and not as big as I'd remembered it to be, but still an interesting place to visit with lots of hand-crafted items and delicious food.

We decided to buy some lunch at the market and were spoilt for choice by the range of international flavours but in the end we chose noodles from the Thai kitchen as we needed something quick, tasty and warming and this did the job perfectly. 

We headed to the Cutty Sark just a short walk away, finding a wall to sit on whilst we ate our food and watched the world go by.

Some students went by doing something very student-like (or they could have been getting rid of a dead body without anyone batting an eyelid!)

The reflective glass around the Cutty Sark was very useful for taking a selfie

And then we took the foot tunnel under the River Thames to admire the views of Greenwich from the north side.

Before returning home, we headed off to take a look at the O2 - just because we wanted to see what it was like!

Turned out to be a complete contrast to the traditional Greenwich we'd visited earlier and Mr Cocopopia was very happy to put the headphones on and tune in to the "wall of sound"

Since my first post about our trip to Greenwich, I've discovered that Chel at Sweet Briar Dreams knows loads of great places to visit in this part of London as its part of her heritage - places that I didn't even know existed.  There's still so much for us to see and do in this very interesting South Eastern corner of London so we'll definitely be revisiting in the future as loads yet to discover!