Art and Mindfulness: Connecting to Self // Summer Studio Sessions

Session #2: Sumi Ink Meditation

 Crystal Harp. Photo from

Crystal Harp. Photo from

For the second session of Art & Mindfulness, we completed a Sumi Ink Meditation. This exercise incorporates the traditional Sumi Ink practice, which is a black ink painting, and a guided meditation accompanied by a crystal harp. Joan Costa, a local sound healer and Reiki Master, joined the session and led the group meditation with breathing techniques and visualizations. To begin the meditation, each participant set an intention that would be focused on throughout the meditation and creative process. After, students were asked to begin painting while focusing on the intention, and listening to the crystal harp

The Crystal Harp used during the mediation is a musical instrument made out of Quartz Crystal tubes. It is tuned to 432 HRTZ which is known to resonate with various energy systems in the body, also known as chakras. Costa explained how the harp works doing the meditation stating. "The vibrational sounds emitted by the harp activate and align the chakras, allowing one to feel balanced and clear of any energetic blockages."


Crystal Harp

Artist journal 

Paint brushes


India Ink 

Small containers for water and ink

Artistic Process

Before beginning the Sumi Ink Meditation, I emphasized everyone should focus on creating non-representational forms during the exercise. Non-representational forms are lines, shapes, and shades that don’t depict an actual representation of something, just the essence of it. In another words, If the intention was happiness, instead of drawing a smiley face (a representation form), I urged students to create using lines and curves (non-representational) that reflects individual feelings of happiness. We also discussed the relevance of size, placement, and relationship to other forms to create a composition. At first, there was a bit of hesitancy, I think, mostly because no one had ever been asked to draw a line that reflects a certain emotion or intention, but after a few minutes of crystal harp sounds and a guided meditation, everyone was deep into the creative process. 

Reflections, Findings, and Breakthroughs

Upon finishing the Sumi Ink Meditation, I asked students to share their experiences from the exercise. While some students had a specific intention in mind throughout the creative process, others stated they didn’t have a specific intention, but instead were inspired to create without limits or expectations. 

 "Growing with a View" Original Student Artwork 

"Growing with a View" Original Student Artwork 

Above, is a student response to the Sumi Ink Meditation. "Growing with a View" is about self-improvement and growing a business. Sean States, "I am manifesting with a desire to create." Sean explained that for him, journaling is a tool for illustrating his dreams and desires. His intention during the mediation focused on personal development and achieving the goal of one day living in a house that overlooks the ocean.  

 Figure 1

Figure 1

The purpose of the Sumi Ink Meditation is to clear the mind using meditative techniques and create art without inhibition or judgments. Creating non-representational forms was the only stipulation I stated before the Sumi Ink Meditation began, and I believe that it took the pressure off of making "good" art and provided an opportunity to experiment with a new process.  My goal was for everyone to create authentic art, something that reflects each person's thoughts, feelings, and experiences about the meditation and material. 

 Student response to Sumi Ink Meditation. Intention: purging toxic influences from ones life. 

Student response to Sumi Ink Meditation. Intention: purging toxic influences from ones life. 

As a class, we discovered some Sumi Ink paintings looked like representational forms when viewed from different angles. Figure 1 was created on a vertical orientation, but when viewed horizontally, it resembled a mountain landscape. 

For the participants who did not set specific intentions, their goal was to use the meditation to clear their mind, and create art while in a peaceful state. 

 Student response to Sumi Ink Mediation with watercolor

Student response to Sumi Ink Mediation with watercolor

"It was just nice to allow myself to create without thinking about why I was."

- Abby, an Art & Mindfulness Student


A Breakthrough... 

Alex, an Art & Mindfulness student, reported a major breakthrough during the Sumi Ink Meditation. Alex explained she "was feeling emotional blockages,” prior to the exercise. She described experiencing feelings of anxiety, pain, worry, and betrayal before the meditation. All of these feelings were resulting in low self-esteem which was negatively impacting Alex. She expressed that the meditation “brought it all to the surface,” and she had not realized that she was harboring negative emotions.

After her third Sumi Ink painting, Alex experienced a breakthrough. She stated “I was more clear headed and clear thinking. I was actually able to work with the material and didn’t have as much dark energy coming out of me.”

When she began working on the last two paintings, the intention was set on “persistence, determination, and perseverance.”

The painting resembling a bridge was the result of focusing on positive self-esteem and overcoming obstacles. The geometric painting is about “connection and letting things be as they are.” She reflected on her painting stating,

“I was working with positive and negative space like how it is in life. I am allowing the negative things to exist without judgment and finding something positive to connect with.  It should enable you to learn something from it- turn it into something positive. Allowing it to just be. Accepting it’s there but not getting stuck” 

 Students who participated in this session reported feelings of relaxation and peacefulness after the Sumi Ink Meditation exercise. My goal was to create a mindfulness exercise which incorporates art production and meditation synchronously instead of separately, one before the other, and I believe we achieved that goal. The results were astounding, as everyone seemed to enjoy the Sumi Ink process, and allowed themselves to respond to the materials, creating authentic, complex, and moving works of non-representational art. 


Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.