Monday, March 11, 2013

Meditation Space: Moving from resistance to flow

This is a sketch of a meditation space I designed. It is meant to provide a place to explore different levels of your identity in relation to silent awareness. The structure is defined by an outer wall of stone, an inner wall of sandblasted glass block and an innermost wall of clear glass. At the core of these walls is a pool of water. This organization reflects the experience of awakening consciousness described by many people throughout history. As your mind opens to silence, your identity becomes less opaque and more transparent and fluid, the freer and happier you become.

The Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron describes it this way, "Ego Clinging is how we try to put solid ground under our feet in an ever-shifting world. Meditation practice starts to rode that fixed identity. As you sit, you begin to see yourself more clearly, and you notice how attached you are to your opinions about yourself. Often the first blow to the fixed identity is precipitated by a crisis. When things fall apart in your life, you feel as if your whole world is crumbling. But this is a cause for celebration." You are becoming liberated from the fixed identity that battles the ever-shifting world. You are better able to flow wi changes that naturally occur and can live more lightly, openly and harmoniously.  

This meditation space offers tangible experience of moving from a fixed identity that combats a ever-changing world to a fluid being better able to respond to the shifting currents of living. Benches are provided to contemplate each stage of the journey. Beside the bench at the outer stone wall are loose sheets of paper and pencils. A plaque invites visitors to notice ways their identities are fixed, creating conflict with the changing world. They are invited to use the paper and pencils to write down what they discover and place their sheet of paper in one of the chinks between the stones, symbolically leaving behind that habit pattern of fixed identity. At the translucent glass block wall, visitors use markers to write words that describe greater flexibility in their identities, but still create conflict with the streams of living. With the sponges and water provided, they then wash the words from the translucent wall. At the glass inner wall, visitors use brushes to write, with water, words or shapes that describe the transparent traits of their minds that faintly cling to a solid identity, but dissolve as quickly as they arise. The inner pool offers an opportunity to meditate on fluidity and sense its qualities within oneself.

Imagine passing through this meditation space and experiencing more fluid layers of your identity. Notice where you resist the flow of living, see through these mental habits and discover your fluid nature.

If you would like to build this meditation space or one that is tailored to your life journey, please contact me through    

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Artist is Present

Being present is the basis for making vital art. I was inspired by the expression of it shown in this video.

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.
At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Facing Emptiness: Seeing through my mind's compulsion to define things

Over time, my explorations in living consciously have brought me to indefinable territory. It is a realm of less and less boundaries with more and more spacious silence. Since definitions and understanding is what my mind lives for, it sees this spacious silence as emptiness. When I face what my mind calls emptiness and look closely, I see through the fictions my mind creates. What my mind defined as emptiness is neither empty or full. It just is. It's a field of being stirred into becoming by thoughts, words, actions and events. Stirring being into becoming, I sense the world resonating to life.

Learning to relax into and trust being seems to be my task in the field of Becoming. As the usual beliefs and stories become more and more transparent, it's strange and disorienting for my mind. There is less and less to grasp and more and more indefinable being to live. There is no problem in this unless my mind labels it a problem and fears for its survival. Since my mind is a story-making machine, it continuously tries to make some-thing out of no-thing. When no-thing won't cooperate by compromising its indefinability, my mind thinks it fails and gets depressed. Undaunted it tries again and again. Over time, my mind is learning that surrender is a more enjoyable option.

This reminds me of the story about the Japanese soldiers found on islands in the Pacific long after World War II had ended. These soldiers were so identified with the war they didn't believe it was over. Wise psychologists knew that these soldiers couldn't instantly change their beliefs. Instead, they had someone regularly whisper in each soldier's ear, "The war is over." Over time, the soldiers' experience showed them they were no longer living in a war zone.

Whether this story is true or not, it helps my mind settle into and explore the indefinable territory of being it finds itself inhabiting. This territory is not the territory of the conventional mind which values duality in all its forms. In the indefinable territory of being, pleasure and pain, success and failure, etc. are stirrings of silence into sound For my mind to revel in this indefinable territory is yet another interpretation, a "success", that is enjoyable, but transparent to the no-thing that pervades every-thing more and more.

Imagine all the problems that are created by our minds trying to define the indefinable. Conflicts, wars, discrimination, greed and all sorts of other problems can result from trying to fit the world into our definitions, no matter how well intentioned. I think John Lennon's had it right when he said, "War is over if you want it." Perhaps we would be better served by facing what our minds call emptiness, seeing through our compulsion to define it, and cooperating with the indefinable mystery of stirring being into becoming.