When we think of mindfulness and meditation, the one area people don’t think about is well, pottery. But, pottery is actually super beneficial for stress relief, and it’s a form of mindfulness meditation that many have started to look into. How does it work? Why in the world should we choose clay to help us ease the stress in our lives? Well, read on to find out.
Stress and Meditation
Chances are when you think of any sort of meditation, we think of sitting down with our legs crossed, saying “ohm” and not doing anything else. While yes, that’s one form of meditation, that’s actually not just one that you should use.
There are a couple of reasons why pottery is used as a form of mindfulness meditation, and the biggest one is stress.
Stress is something that many people struggle with, and it’s not easy to deal with. Stress can happen cause of the following situations:
- Home life
- Financial reasons
All of these, especially compiled, can bring about a ton of stress. And the numbers are there. There are a lot of stressed-out people out there, in fact, research shows that stress is one of the most prevalent conditions people suffer from.
But, here is the problem: stress is good for you to a degree, but if you’re too stressed, it actually can cause a lot of problems, including the following:
- High blood pressure
- Higher cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
A lot of these are actually silent killers, and they’re something that people don’t even realize are causing a lot of trouble in the body, and in the mind. But, if you think about it you can see it in the mental state that you have as well. If you look at it, chances are you’re experiencing one of the following:
- Some level of irritability
- Anxiety of any level
These are all common, often overlooked, issues that we are humans face. Stress is a big problem in our lives, and it’s something that doctors tell us time and time again that we need to handle. If you want to live a happier, longer life, you’ve got to eliminate stress.
And how can you eliminate stress? Well, there’s always the doing yoga and meditation, but why not look at the different ways you can eliminate the stress that doesn’t involve sitting around clearing your mind? What about a more doingness sort of approach?
That’s exactly what pottery is used for.
Creativity and Stress
If you still don’t see how pottery can relieve stress, why not take a moment to look at the complete harmony that’s brought forth. It’s a great way to relieve stress in an independent manner, and it’s a very valid way to help with the troubles of life.
The reason why pottery is a creative way to relieve stress is simple. let’s take a look at the anatomy of pottery, and what you’re doing with your hands:
- Rolling clay into shapes
- Centering and forming various shapes on the wheel
- Perfecting the walls and lids in order to create a beautiful piece
- Painting stains and glazes on them to help give them an extra flair
- Firing these in a kiln to the perfect stage that you can
All of this is a lot to think about, right? But, you’re working with more right-brained activities, and chances are, you’ll start to realize that you’re focusing on this, and less on the problems at hand.
- Doing pottery allows for your mind to begin with the following:
- Putting less focus on yourself, and more on external activities
- Allowing you to not worry so much about what’s going on
- Reducing the impact of what’s stressing you out
If you’ve ever heard of art therapy, then this may make sense to you. Art therapy is a form of valid therapy, and it’s widely used because you’re generating good results for a person, and giving them less worry, and more focus on the future.
Different Brain Parts, Less Worry
Yes, you are using a different part of the brain when you’re stressing out, and when you’re doing pottery. Both of these factors are here because of the different parts that you use.
Typically, the hypothalamus is at work here, because it will wake up the pituitary gland, and the adrenal gland, releasing these hormones. The prefrontal cortex typically regulates your response to this by making the response less scary. However, the amygdala is one of the other parts of the brain that detects various items that are scary. From here, it creates the following:
- Hypothalamus wakes up
- The pituitary wakes up
- The hormones cause the adrenal gland to release cortisol
- The cortisol travels through the blood to other parts and they react to stress
- The body gets sent into action
From here, your body is in the stress response, where your muscles will run away, and it will make your breathing faster. But, here’s the thing, making sure that you don’t overstimulate this is essential.
If you continue to act in this way, it will cause the adrenals to start to overproduce the hormones, and from there, it will cause them issues with calming down, and it causes many issues if you can’t regulate your brain’s response to these stressors.
So what does the brain on creativity do? Well, it can cause the following:
- Divergent thinking
- Less stress on aspects of life
There are many other things that come about when your brain is on creativity, and they are important to understanding. You can read more on the research that is out there regarding this.
The Issues Go away
The biggest thing to remember is that these issues will go away, melting into the background, and that’s because you’re not using your brain to focus on those at this point. It’s actually something that you can use to focus more on tasks at hand. That’s because when you’re doing pottery, you’re focusing on the following:
When you do this, it actually will allow you a chance to indulge in the positive results on the brain, and you will be bringing forth mindfulness. It will push these issues to the side, but it’s more than that, it’s mindfulness, and mindfulness is a huge part of this.
Mindfulness and Pottery
One aspect of pottery is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a huge aspect of creativity, and when you focus on this, you take in the aspects of it, and you’re essentially looking, feeling, and embracing the texture that is here. Pottery focuses on the creation, and it goes from there to different angles and such. You essentially get lost in what’s being made, and at this point, nothing else is really at the forefront.
This is called mindfulness, and you’re essentially mindful of what you’re doing.
Lots of people use mindfulness to help with improving the state of life, and your own personal thought processes. Mindfulness combined with meditation has a lot of benefits to the body, and they include the following:
- Bring down the blood pressure
- Lowers your heart rate
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces the stress hormones and chemicals
- Decreases adrenaline
- Allows for more focus
As we said before, when we are stressed, we release adrenaline in the body, and that causes our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing to go up, and our mind probably feels like we are racing at the speed of light. That’s not an ideal situation all the time, right? that’s correct, and if you stop and think about yourself for a moment, and have peace of mind can make a huge difference.
If you ever feel like it doesn’t make a huge difference, you should look at your mental state when you’re stressed, and then when you’re doing something creative, whether it be writing, drawing, painting, or even pottery. You should focus on this to understand why it’s so good to work on clay, and it does really change the way you look at things.
A Freedom You May Not Really Understand
If you think about it, it is a form of freedom too. If you want to express yourself, sometimes the way to truly do so is by being creative. Being creative brings forth freedom that you may not understand currently.
- When you’re free, you simply have the following:
- No restrictions
- A better state of mind than following one simple pattern
- You don’t have to worry about being perfect
- You can touch on those creative aspects of life
- You can actually become more self-aware of what you’re doing
- You can truly go through the process and understand what you’re going, and why it doesn’t work/works
- It allows for emotions and feelings to be expressed better
When we are stressed, we actually block those feelings from coming up, and if we realize this, we’ll want to be more creative. Lots of times when we are stressed too, it often causes the situation of bottling everything up. Which isn’t healthy at the end of the day.
How many times have you exploded because of stress that’s bottled up in life? That’s a huge thing many people have issues with, and stress can be a real problem. But, with a good outlet, you can actually use this to help better yourself.
Mistakes are Made
One aspect of pottery that you’ll need to realize is that mistakes are a huge part of this, and you’ll be able to handle these mistakes in a much healthier manner when you’re not stressed about them.
Pottery does involve many mistakes, and some of them include the following:
- Messes in the area
- The pot will fly off the wheel
- It will get all over the place
- It can make a mess on you and the areas
Now, lots of times were are inclined to not make mistakes. How many times have you been told to be perfect? How many times have you told yourself that you have to be perfect, or else it won’t work? This is a very real problem for people, and if you don’t realize this, it plays a huge part in your ability to learn to accept mistakes.
When you’re trying to reduce stress in life, one of the key parts is that you have to learn to accept mistakes. You need to become more aware of what you’re doing, and not worry about what’s going on, or if you’ll mess up the first time. Chances are you’ll mess up the first time, second time, or twentieth time, but that doesn’t matter.
When you learn to accept your mistakes, it does a lot for you, such as the following:
- Less worry about the future
- You can become aware of what is happening now
- You’re living less in the past, and in your head
- Through mistakes, you learn to create something better
- It allows for more resilience as you tackle other perspectives until the end goal is reached
If you learn this, it is a big life lesson that can help you. We often are obsessed with trying to make everything work, and sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to. But, you can still achieve the things in life that you want to achieve if you don’t worry about the different aspects of it.
Meditation is a big part of pottery because you learn to accept your mistakes, and you’ll feel even better than you did before. It’s a great way to learn to accept your mistakes, and not put so much emphasis on them, but instead on the future that you want to make sure happens and to learn to accept mistakes no matter what.
Only Person to Impress is Yourself
With pottery, do you ever realize that you’re not having to be judged by teachers or anyone else, but instead of yourself? Sure, if you really want to get judged, you can, but lots of people take on pottery because of the fact that you don’t have to work with a teacher, and that’s a big part of it.
With pottery, you can learn the techniques all on your own, and do them yourself. What this means for you is simple, and that’s the following:
- That you only have to be judged by yourself
- That you don’t have to worry about being criticized
- That it allows for artistic freedom
With pottery, you’ve got a few rules, such as for example what temperature to fire porcelain clay, and what glazes work best on pottery, and some different other factoids to keep in mind. But, the thing is people don’t have to sit there demanding that you do certain activities that you don’t want to. You can create whatever you want with pottery, and you just have to follow a few guidelines to make sure it stays upright.
Here’s the thing with yoga, meditation, and other activities that are done to “relieve stress.” if they’re done in a classroom environment, it can create a few issues, such as the following:
- You’re focused on only listening to a teacher
- You obsess over the complexity of the poses
- You can get discouraged if you can’t do it
That’s one of the faults of yoga because sometimes you can’t just truly relax. But with pottery, you’re able to create an environment that is simple, and one that is able to help you express your creativity. There isn’t the stress of another person, and while there are a few guidelines that can help you, the best part about pottery is the fact that you don’t have to follow everything to the letter, but instead do what makes you happy, and do what works for you.
If something is too complicated, you work with smaller pieces and then go from there, that’s what you’ve got to remember. There are lots of pottery opportunities that you can try that will help you become the best potter you can be no matter what.
A connection Between Body and Clay
Finally, let’s talk about how the clay plays a part in all of this. That’s because our fingertips play a huge part because we have a variety of nerve bundles that are there.
When you play and stimulate this, it actually creates therapeutic benefits, including the following:
- You can naturally connect the body and the clay together
- You can even relax your breathing to work with your hands
- The immediacy and malleability of the clay creates this connection
- This connection will allow us to relax and have a bit of stress relief in our lives
- It can make you almost feel emotion at your fingertips
This connection is an intimate one. Have you ever taken some clay, rolled it around in your hands, and realized that it feels nice? This is a huge part of it, and it’s something that people don’t realize is a big part of pottery. Pottery is really relaxing for many people, because this connection brings forth a relaxed state of mind, and develops a deeper connection than ever before.
With pottery, you also feel the practical advantages that can make you feel better about doing this, and you can use this as a form of self-care.
Pottery clay feels like a stress ball in a sense. You know those little balls that you’re supposed to squeeze when you’re feeling stressed as a means to relax? that’s something that people can use with pottery in order to generate a state of relaxation. By touching this and moving it around, it can create the following:
- Can transfer the stress to other outlets
- Can get your mind off the worries and more focus on the clay
- Can help you get more of a focus and grounding on yourself, and at the end of the day make life easier
Pottery clay has magical powers, even if it’s just normal clay, and you as a potter will realize that it is meditative, and you’ll feel mindful as you use this, for it’s quite simple to use and effective for you to utilize.
Pottery is Mindful!
Pottery allows you to be creative, expressive, and it gives you that place to really care for yourself, and not worry about what’s going on. In a sense, it’s relaxing, and it allows you to drift to another world for a second.
Remember that the game of pottery isn’t the end result, but it’s the journey and what you’re doing with it.
If you’re using pottery for therapy reasons, you shouldn’t be obsessed with trying to make a super elaborate piece of art or a clay pot that you may have seen and are obsessed with. What you need to do instead is enjoy the motions, understand that you should know what it means to feel happy, and understand that you’re producing something that you can use to clam the mind, body, and help to reduce the stress that you have in life. It makes a world of a difference, and it’s super helpful if you’re looking to relax.
So yes, pottery is probably one of the best exercises for mindfulness, and it’s really the newest and best mindfulness activities that are out there. People don’t realize just how good this is for you until you use it, and for many, it can change their life.
If you’re not using pottery yet, then what are you waiting for? Pottery is one of the best and most relaxing activities out there, and it can help change your life, and your mindset no matter what life may throw at you that stresses you out.
Originally published at spinningpots.com on September 27, 2018.