It's a very normal thing to feel anxious and unmoored at times, particularly following the global pandemic we have experienced. Many people find it easier to cope with uncertainty by keeping busy, embarking on new self-improvement regimes that offer the comforting illusion of control in an unpredictable world. Others may find solace in the opposite, using 'downtime' to withdraw and reset.
Whichever camp you fall into, it is always beneficial to try to just be in the moment. Looking at art (or making it) is a great way to slow down, reflect, and just be.
We often run mindfulness tours in the Gallery, led by Mary Dowling, and now we're bringing some mindfulness to you online, too! Below you'll find a number of specially selected artworks for you to meditate on with curiosity and openness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is deliberately pausing and paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. It gives us time to connect with ourselves and the world around us, fully experiencing what’s going on. We can practice mindfulness by spending time looking at an artwork, and it can be a very helpful tool to calm and settle our busy minds.
- Relax: Give yourself permission to relax as you look at the painting. Calm and focus your mind.
- Breathe: Notice your breath as you breathe in and out. Don't try and change your breathing; just breathe as normal and become aware of it.
- Release: Pay attention to how your body feels as you look at the painting. Are you holding tension anywhere? Check in with your back, your shoulders, your neck, your jaw, your eyes. Soften and relax.
- Forgive: Allow your thoughts to come and go. Don't worry if your mind wanders, just gently bring your focus back to the painting.
- Accept: Don't allow outside noise to bother you. In fact, accept any sounds or noise and let them become part of your experience of looking at the painting.
Select one of the artworks below:
Monet's Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat: Mindfulness and Art
Video: Spend 3 minutes with Claude Monet's painting.
The Liffey Swim: Mindfulness and Art
Video: Spend 3 minutes looking closely at Jack B. Yeats's paintin
Portrait of Prince Alessandro Farnese: Mindfulness and Art
Video: Spend 3 minutes with Sofonisba Anguissola's portrait.
Mindfulness and Art: A Stag
Spend some time with Rosa Bonheur's painting.
Mindfulness and Art: Farm at Lezaven, Finistère
Transport yourself to France through Roderic O'Conor's painting.
Mindfulness and Art: Children on the Sand Dunes, Grandcamp
Slow down and reflect on Eva Gonzalès' painting.
Mindfulness and Art: Sackville Street, Dublin
Look closely at Michael Angelo Hayes' watercolour.
Mindfulness and Art: Banks of a Canal, near Naples
Relax with Caillebotte's painting for a moment.
Mindfulness and Art: Aloes, South of France
Take 5 minutes to look closely at William John Leech's watercolou
Mindfulness and Art: Peasant Wedding
Look closely at Pieter Brueghel the Younger's painting.
Mindfulness and Art: Jane Burden
Slow down and look at Rossetti's portrait of Jane Burden.
Mindfulness and Art: The Virgin of Éire
Take a moment to reflect on Mainie Jellett's painting.
Mindfulness and Art: Shades of Evening
Reflect in silence on Mildred Anne Butler's watercolour.
Mindfulness and Art: Two Ballet Dancers in a Dressing Room
Spend time looking closely at Degas's pastel drawing.
Mindfulness and Art: Rooftops in Paris
Look closely at Van Gogh's painting.
Mindfulness and Art: The Annunciation
Reflect on Jacques Yverni's altarpiece.
Mindfulness and Art: The Gleaners
Spend five minutes with Breton's painting.
Mindfulness and Art: Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid
Be in the moment with Vermeer's painting.
Mindfulness and Art: Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata
Take a moment to contemplate El Greco's painting.