Mindfulness

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Mindfulness in a nutshell is being present in the moment, and enjoying what you have in front of you. Not worrying about the future or thinking about what happened before.
Too many times, what is a really beautiful moment is snatched from us because we are so preoccuppied with what is going on around us.
Below are some ideas and weblinks to mindful sites, crafts and excercises that are cost effective.

Practicing mindfulness

Physically putting the breaks on, Calm is an app that helps you focus on the now, using sounds and other techniques. It’s very very calming. You can download a free version on the link provided.
Mindfulness for dummies contains audiotracks and other things that helps novices in the mindfulness arena practice their art. It’s a pick n’ mix of information that you can dip in and out of. There is also a section in there for ‘Mindfulness for children’.

Crafts to calm

Crochet and knitting , as I mentioned in my blog Learning to cope with weekends and self isolation  ; is a great way of unwinding. Sites like loveknitting/lovecrochet/lovecraft  offer tutorials and a plethora of free patterns
If wool isn’t your thing, many people find colouring in fun- and there are plenty of mindful colouring in books available.
I recently chanced upon the Japanese art of Sashiko as a form of mindful mending. It’s essentially beautiful geometric stitching patterns. There are some lovely pages to follow on Instagram and a couple of great books you can get from Amazon.

Yoga

I never used yoga,  then my brother (who lives on his boat) took it up. Small spaces and all that. He recommended an app (pocketyoga.com), that I have used now for nearly 5 years. I didn’t pay much for it- about £2.50 then, and frankly it is one of the best values for money yet. The reason is, its a class that can last, 30,45 or 60 minutes, focusses on 3 different aspects of yoga (cardio, core and another one) and different levels (beginner intermediate and advanced). Perfect. Take it or leave it. There are obviously loads of online youtube courses and such, but this for me was a game changer as it was on my terms- and at my level.

Short courses

If direction is what you want, I can recommend a few courses. Free courses on  edXMOOC and creativelive are all fascinating sources of things I never knew. From calculus, foreign languages to art and science. They are all there , structured and for free.

Art Courses

The artistic amongst you may fancy drawing and I have a couple of recommendations:

Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101 is a free award winning online course over 6 weeks that hones your skills in observation of the natural world. I suppose if you are trapped in  a flat, that spider in the corner,or your cat are all equally good to sketch, although you can cheat and use online pictures to draw.

Fran Arrigoni

Drawing whatever you find at the Natural History Illustration course on edX

If you fancy spending a bit of money (about £100 for a years membership), I cannot recommend this course  highly enough @annamasonart. The online school is packed full of tutorials of flora fauna and the like.  She also provides a free class to wet your whistle. Be warned, I found it highly addictive  Anna Masons class. 

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Poppies from the Anna Mason class

Another free online course that has popped up on my radar is  the New Masters Academy   which provides a few free introductory sessions to get you hooked.
For proper intensive  botanical illustration – with more personal feedback and a heck of a lot more intensity, Dianne Sutherland has a few courses, although these are seasonal and you can only join at certain times of the year. We started with dissecting and getting to know the flower properly, which  I had intended to draw and then paint  for the final composition. I obviously killed off my plant (Hellebore)  before I got past the sketch phase. My skill set was really pushed up a notch doing this.


If I had more time and wasn’t online teaching my students and homeschooling my 6 year old, I would be drawing and painting prolifically right now.  It is such as fulfilling passtime.
If you have any other suggestions please let me know.

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