Mental health has been in everyone’s mind since our lives have been on lock-down. So many things most of us took for granted like outdoors exercise, meeting up with friends, family gatherings, etc. have been taken away from us and the impact on mental health is felt by many. Anxiety, stress, overwhelm or lack of purpose are a few of the emotions you might be feeling and it is so easy to spiral out of control. But there are also things that can really help and one of them is learning and practising calligraphy.
And I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been there. 4 years ago, after having my second child, I kind of lost myself for a while. To the outside world I was a functioning human being, well as best as one can be with 2 children under 3, but inside I was crumbling, fading away. I used to tell my friends “I’ve had a bad day but it’s okay, tomorrow I’ll put the autopilot back on... It’s aaaallllll fine, really”. But I wasn’t fine and I came to realise that I needed help. So I went to see my GP, got some prescription and carried on with my mommy duties. I was no longer walking dangerously close to the edge, which was good, but I still had this niggling feeling that I didn’t know who I was anymore. The one moment that was always bringing me some kind of inner peace, was when I was making last minute birthday cards (I consistently failed at buying some and there were many children parties to attend). I found myself writing one almost every week, trying to make it look good, to the point that I thought I should look into how to write nicely. And that’s when calligraphy came into my life and it hasn’t left me since.
The amazing thing about practising calligraphy is that time seems to be stopping for a while. It’s just you and your tools, trying to draw beautiful shapes on paper. Every stroke is intentional and requires your full attention. Your whole body and soul are focused.
It all starts in preparing your tools and setting up your desk area. This ritual itself is calming, it feels like preparing yourself for meditation. Next comes the warm up. I like to draw the basic strokes to ease myself into the craft. Then shapes slowly take form on the page, words start to flow, my breath is calm and controlled, my mind is at peace and the outside world seems to have vanished. It is just me and the scratching of the nib on the paper. Just me, centred and no longer lost.
The practise of calligraphy is one of mindfulness where all the senses are engaged. It is a time you take for yourself to be grounded, to just let yourself feel. And because there is a learning curve, you will practise being kind to yourself, noticing the progress rather than looking for perfection. And all it takes is 15 minutes a day.
I’ve experienced first-hand the incredible benefits of calligraphy for my well-being and I’m so grateful to have found this creative outlet. I don’t think I’ll ever stop practising, the prescriptions on the other hand are now long gone.
Now inhale, exhale and grab a pen.
Start your calligraphy journey today with this Basic Strokes Free Download.