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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

The Taarika Foundation, a local nonprofit that focuses on mental health in children and adolescents, recently gathered students for a back-to-school tie-dye event, an activity aimed at melding art and mindfulness. The foundation has conducted a number of mindfulness workshops and seminars to teach stress management tools over the past three years with the objective of Supporting the Whole Child: Bake-Along Workshop, Mindful Dancing Workshop, a Painting Workshop, and the Back-to-School Tie-Dye Masks and Book Bag event.

To teach the skill of mindfulness to young children, the Taarika Foundation launched the program Colorful Creations, using art as a medium to teach mindfulness. While becoming more widespread across the western hemisphere, the practice of mindfulness has always been prominent in activities that people tend to overlook, such as art. Mindfulness-based art incorporates the practice of mindfulness while doing art. While the painters, or in this case the tie-dyers, are immersing themselves in the art, the creative activity eases the artist into a space of absorption, concentration, and flow.

Getting into this mind space simulates the same experience as meditation. Even with no formal experience with meditation, art is a great medium to enhance one’s capacity for concentration, tranquility, and inner peace.

What are the long-term benefits of practicing this mindfulness-based art?

Over time, practicing mindful art can decrease anxiety levels, reduce stress, improve moods and raise self-esteem. Incorporating mindfulness into art can even lead to more fulfilling personal relationships and help develop compassion for oneself as well and others. During therapy, mindfulness is even used to treat patients recovering from eating disorders, substance abuse (used as relapse prevention), depressive disorders, stress-related issues, and anger-related issues.

Back-to-School Tie-Dye Masks and Book Bag event, which took place in August at Portal Park in Cupertino.

Participating in art at a younger age has proven to affect the development of the brain in positive ways. Taarika’s tie-dye event was geared toward younger children, and practicing this method of mindfulness through art will make a larger impact the more they do it. An increasing amount of research supports the idea that mindfully practicing art can improve the brain’s function. Art can have a positive effect on the brain’s wave patterns, the nervous system, and emotions. Making art also can boost serotonin levels. The fine movements often used while making strokes with a paintbrush or coloring in detail can greatly ameliorate the artist’s motor skills.

Practicing mindfulness through art is beneficial for all. The Taarika Foundation continues to hold events where mindfulness can be practiced through art, and I encourage everyone to participate. Find out about their future events here:

Anika Nambisan, a student at Pinewood School in Los Altos Hills, is a member of the Taarika Foundation’s youth team.