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Art as Meditation

Jump to the following topics:

  1. What is "art as meditation?"
  2. The techniques.


What is "art as meditation?" It is any type of meditation in which we use art. Art has been institutionalized as a form of meditation in Zen -- with calligraphy, ink drawings, and gardening -- but we can meditate with other media, e.g., painting, sculpture, water colors, etc.


The techniques.  

  1. We create a meditative state. Before we start to create, we can use any of the other meditation techniques in this book.
  2. We are mindful while we prepare our tools. Those tools include our paintbrushes, our sculpting stone, etc.
  3. We experience balance in the various relationships (i.e., dualities) in creativity:
    • The relationship between artist and tools.
    • The relationship between artist and creation.
    • The relationship between the creation and the space around it.
    • The relationship between creator and audience.
    • The relationships among all the steps of our endeavor (including the preliminaries, and the cleanup afterward).
    • The relationship between spontaneity and technique.
      • "Spontaneity" is characterized by impulsiveness, an attentiveness to intuition in each moment, "the beginner's mind," receptiveness, uninhibited experimentation, the right hemisphere of the brain, etc.
      • "Technique" includes technical rules, professionalism, mental reasoning, a detailed plan for the finished product, learned artistic principles, audience response, marketability, intentional symbolism, abstractions, the left hemisphere of the brain, etc.
    • The relationship between personal self and impersonal spirit.
      • The personal psyche is diminished to a different proportion In this unified process, we use the perspectives and energy of the ego, archetypal-field elements, thoughts, emotions, imagination, and personal technique -- but those things are subservient to the activity of life creating itself. We do not self-consciously judge ourselves as "a great artist" or "an incompetent" artist; instead, we merely observe and appreciate the miracle of creation. 
      • We might feel that life (i.e., spirit) is creating something through us. We allow the creation to go beyond our concepts of our identity, our capabilities, our habits, our emotional and mental preferences, and other individual concerns. We permit the creativity to occur on its own terms. Our individuality is still here, but we transcend it such that it is only one part of the process; it is merely a "spice" in the recipe rather than being the main course.

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