January 21, 2016

Meditative Making: 5 Simple Projects to Encourage Relaxation.

kid making cookies
When rushing from one thing to the next becomes routine, it feels good to find time to slow down and get centered.

A great way to do this is with meditation.

But sometimes, focusing inward with eyes closed and silence leads to an even busier mind.

Take an afternoon or evening for yourself, and find relaxation by focusing on these simple DIY projects that are fun, colorful, meditative to make, and meditative to use.

Chances are, you may already have most of the materials in your home. If not, don’t worry about specifics. Part of creativity is substituting things you don’t have with things that you do.

1. Painted mandala rocks—for grounding:

mandala_NR do not reuse

A mandala is a circular design that is visually pleasing to look at, and represents harmony, balance, and wholeness. Designing and coloring your own will bring out your creative, playful side, and is great for unwinding after a long day.

What you need:

A handful of circular rocks that each fit comfortably in your palm

A pencil

A paintbrush

Paint in multiple colors

What to do:

Use a pencil to sketch your designs on the rocks. Mandalas are generally contained in an outer circular shape, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Use smaller concentric circles, dots, lines, flowers, hearts, and other shapes to create your unique designs. When you’ve finished sketching, use the paint to add some color.

How to use them:

For most of us, it’s pretty typical to spend more time lost in thought than in the present moment. For times when your mind is racing, a little piece of the earth can help ground you. Hold your rock mandala in your palm, and use it to connect with the current moment. Breathe deeply while you focus on the shapes, colors and designs of the mandala.

2. Beeswax candles—for focusing:

beeswax_NR do not reuse

The golden hue of pure beeswax is beautiful to look at and has a fresh, natural scent that sets the mood for relaxation. You can buy the wax by the pound in craft stores or on websites like Etsy.

What you need:

A few small mason jars

5 pounds of beeswax, broken into smaller pieces

A pack of candle wicks


A saucepan

What to do:

To make the candles, put the broken pieces of wax into the saucepan. Bring the stove to low heat, and stir until the wax is melted. Pour a thin layer of wax into the bottom of the jar, and place the end of the wick into the center. Hold the wick in place until the wax is dry—a few minutes, at most.

Next, while continuing to hold the wick in place, pour more wax into the jar until it reaches to ¼ an inch below the top of the jar. When the wax is solid and completely dry, cut the wick to ¼ an inch above the top of the wax.

How to use them:

After making your candles, set an intention for each one. For example, let go, focus, or compassion—then use them in your meditation practice. Focusing on something physical, like the flame of the candle, can make it easier to let go of negative thoughts and clear your mind.

If you usually meditate with your eyes closed, this is also a great way to experiment with keeping them open. Visualize any negative thoughts, images or emotions transferring from your mind to the candle, and then burning up inside the flame.

3. A mini contemplation garden—for calming:

contemplation_NR do not reuse

Traditionally, contemplation gardens are placed on work desks or in home offices, where the most stress occurs. Instead, you can use them to help prevent stress before it ever happens, by using them first thing in the morning to set a calm, soothing tone for the rest of the day.

What you need:

A small tin or box

A cup or so of uncooked rice

1 stick, about 4 inches in length

A few rocks, small pieces of beach glass, shells, or a tiny succulent plant

What to do:

Pour the rice into the small tin or box and level it off, leaving a bit of room at the top. This way, you can use the garden without spilling every time. Arrange a few small rocks, some beach glass, and other nature finds into the rice. Use the stick as a “rake.”

How to use it:

Think of your mini contemplation garden as your personal peaceful place. Find a quiet place in your home, or if that’s not physically possible, create a quiet space in your mind by focusing on the repetitive motion of raking the rice.

4. A dreamcatcher—for reflecting:

dreamcatcher_NR do not reuse

In history, each piece added to a dreamcatcher was symbolic for an emotion or an element of the earth. With a few nature finds and craft items, you can create a customized dreamcatcher to symbolize anything you’re craving in life—including a good night’s sleep.

What you need:

A handful of sticks, each about 5 inches in length

Twine (or leather rope, yarn or string)

Decorations of your choice: pinecones, flowers, rocks, leaves, shells, glitter, feathers, colored paper or beads


What to do:

Begin by tying the ends of each stick together with twine to form a circular frame. When the circle is completed, check each knot to make sure it’s secure. For the inside web, measure about ten feet of twine, and tie one end to the frame before wrapping the twine from branch to branch of the frame, making a fun pattern as you go.

When you’ve finished the web, tie the other end of the twine to the frame and knot it. Next, tie a few more pieces of twine to the bottom half of the dreamcatcher, and on the ether end, dangle a few pinecones, leaves, feathers, and more.

How to use it:

Place the dreamcatcher over your bed, and use it as a nightly reminder for some positive words and thoughts. In the morning, use it to reflect on dreams and thoughts from throughout the night. If your dreams weren’t particularly wonderful, it might be time to incorporate a few more minutes of mediation throughout the day and before bed.

5. A heating pad—for awareness:

heatingpad_NR do not reuse

Use some fabric or an old pillowcase to make this home-sewn heating pad that’s sure to bring healing energy, focus and warmth to any area that needs it most. The long, thin shape of the one we’re making here is transportable, versatile, and should fit wherever it needs to.

What you’ll need:

A square of fabric, 8 by 8 inches


A ruler

A small sewing needle



What to do:

Fold the fabric square in half, so that the patterned sides are facing each other. Later you will reverse it. Use your needle and thread to sew around the rectangle, binding the edges together. Continue until there are two inches left, unsewn. This hole will be used to turn your bag right side out. Gather the fabric through the hole, and pull it through. (This may take a bit of patience!)

Once the fabric is right side out, use a funnel or a spoon to pour the rice into the bag. The amount of rice is up to you—the more rice you use, the better it will hold heat, but it’s better not to completely stuff it full.

To close the hole, finish stitching until you’re back at the beginning. Tie the two ends of the thread together.

How to use it:

Use a microwave to warm your new heating pad for two minutes. Be careful, it might be hot! By using heat on spots that are sore, tired, or just need a little attention, you can send healing energy directly where it needs to go.


Relephant read:

My Little Bug: 9 Lessons from a Creative Journey.


Author: Nicole Rossi

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Images: photochem_PA/ Flickr & courtesy of the author


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