Updated: Feb 16
You are so anxious about the future that you do not enjoy the present. You therefore do not live in the present or the future. You live as if you are never going to die, and then die having never really lived.”-Dalai Lama
We all know what it is to be "present" in a quiet spot in nature. To feel the cathedral-like coolness and stillness of the majestic redwoods. To smell the fresh grass and moist soil after a rain shower. To feel the silkiness of warm bath water or feel wakefulness itself if we dive into a pool of cool water after a sweaty hike or cycling adventure.
Nature's embrace gives us permission to relax and rest. The more we relax the more we can just "be." We choose not to be distracted by agendas--fixing problems at work, the house, the car, the relationship, the kids. We are just "here now."
I like to call my body the seismograph (seismometer?))of my soul. Meditating in nature slows me down to the point where I can feel the sensations in my body. My body sensations register the effects of my thoughts. The sensations then translate into visual patterns, images or feelings. I take this skill into my artwork. At an earlier time I was unable to describe internal processes. Now with 20/20 hindsight I am better at it. I repeat the phrase "sensations in the body, thoughts and feelings in the mind.
We've all experienced strong emotions. If we've denied and packed them down hard we know they will arise unexpectedly and wreak havoc in our lives. If we've chosen to act upon them, we will also pay the consequences. This has happened with me so I'm sure it's common to humanity.
Fortunately, while in states of strong emotion, I've channeled my energy into creating. I've used anger and aggression to produce large sculptures (see Orthia, Breastplate, Helmet on Sculptures page) and aggressive drawings (see Contorta on Works on Paper--Original Drawings). Strong emotions nicely focus my attention to stay on task and create.
I have in the past also packed down my true desires and let steam build. After working the Silicon Valley life for more than two decades I finally acknowledged I was not on my true path.
By the time I was admitted into the SJSU MFA Sculpture program, my safety valve/volcano was ready to burst. I therefore hit the ground running. I was overjoyed at the opportunity to express myself, to get it all out. I could finally be true to myself. I felt free and was ready. And it became one of the best experiences of my life. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to accomplish what I did at the time.
Unfortunately anger and aggression in the studio cannot be the rule of thumb to act effectively in the world.
Needing to find a better way to actualize my desires and passions, I found a tool to assist me: meditation and mindful self-compassion. Now when strong emotions arise I can deal effectively with them. Mindful meditation is a daily practice.
So I think what the Dalai Lama said does matter. This might ring true for you, too.
We all need meditation at different times in our lives. It gets us directly to a dependably safe internal place. This creative "holding container" or environment is available to us at any time. It's all right here. What is more portable than ourselves? We can just start anytime, anywhere. Our lives won't look different but they will feel different. And in this instance, technology is our friend. It's more within reach with available guided meditation apps!
A cup of meditation tea with a drop of mindful self-compassion right now is my go-to medicine/tool. My drive to create art is now more like a low simmering boil. These charcoal drawings were created from nature's whole-hearted embrace. Mother nature outside and within. Mother nature is truly divine.
Thanks for letting me share with you my explorations and insights into mother nature and the nature of self. See you next week.
Explore . Go deep. Now.
Please consider that 5% of proceeds from the sale of artwork is donated to Center for Mindful Self-Compassion founded by Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Chris Germer.