Emily Bryson ELT

Emily Bryson ELT FREE Active Meditation download

Switching off the overactive mind: an active drawing meditation!

Do you have a brain that won’t be silenced? 

Have you tried (and failed) at guided meditation? 

I have! You’re not alone. 

For years I struggled to quieten my mind. I attended lunch time mindfulness sessions at my college. I downloaded numerous meditation apps. I tried sitting quietly in an empty room. 

Nothing worked. 

I even got into the habit of arriving fifteen minutes early for my yoga class. This just meant that I was usually asleep by the time the instructor arrived! 

An enlightened yoga instructor!

When I told my yoga teacher about my struggles she just looked at me knowingly. She knew me well, and she instinctively knew that meditation wasn’t for me. 

She said ‘You need to get out on your bike. You’re an active meditator.’

Something clicked that day. She was so right. And it was so refreshing to hear that meditation wasn’t for everyone. 

Another muse!

Then Robert Stroud contacted me. He’d seen my work on graphic facilitation for English language teaching and wanted me to write an article on wellbeing for the University Grapevine magazine. 


Emily Bryson, University Grapevine Article, active drawing meditation, doodling for mindfulness

He got me thinking. If I can’t quieten my mind through sitting still, why not doodle my way to tranquility? 

So I got my pens out!

Doodling a body scan meditation

I’d attempted enough mindfulness techniques to know the script. Start by focusing on how your body feels, then bring your attention to the sights, sounds and smells, then consider what you can taste and any emotions. 

I drew an ear, an eye, a nose, a hand, a mouth and a heart. I drew each one big enough that I could add notes and doodles inside it. Then I added what I could hear, see, smell, touch, taste and feel. I added more doodles as I went. 

The relaxing effects of drawing

Drawing is well known for being therapeutic and the aim of meditation has a similar effect. Once I’d spent ten minutes doodling and focusing my thoughts on the present moment, I felt much calmer. 

It was definitely a tool I needed to share with the world, so I tidied it up and sent it on the University Grapevine. 

The calm classroom

I teach learners from refugee backgrounds. When they arrive in class, they can be thinking about a multitude of worries; the safety of their families in other countries, their home office case, homeless, work, children, etc. Focusing on grammar and vocabulary aren’t always top of the list. 

When I did this with my learners, I demonstrated how to draw each icon on the whiteboard. They then took a minute or so to think, listen, feel and add their thoughts in the relevant place. It went down well, and many said that it was an enjoyable activity. 

If you’d like to try it, you can download it and other freebies here: 


You can read the original article in Issue 13 of the University Grapevine Magazine here: 


If you’d like more ideas like this or to develop your doodling skills for the classroom, check out my courses:


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