Art Inspired Mindfulness

Art Inspired Mindfulness

What secrets beckon this deep

forest dwelling?

Solitude indulges the hidden recesses

stored in my mind.

Contemplative nature among the spaces, 

between the old growth standing upright

Curiosity enchants this gift of time and place.

The invitation to enter beckons…

By Lhasha

In the spiritual traditions of Zen Buddhism, we find many forms of artistic expression. Beginning with the Rinzai lineage of the koan, a form of asking a question that goes beyond ordinary discursive thinking and invites one to be with the ‘riddle-like’ thought put before them. Wikipedia provides this description: Kōan (公案) is a story, dialogue, question, or statement which is used in Zen practice to provoke the “great doubt” and to practice or test a student’s progress in Zen.

I think of it as  the origin of what is known as “The Way Of” and from which derived the following practices tea ceremony, archery, pottery, lacquerware, calligraphy, and haiku, wood block painting, okioy-e, Nihongo painting, karate, Jin shin jyutsu, shiatsu. These and many more forms of practiced Zen mindfulness became different paths for lay persons to enter a spiritual tradition previously reserved for Zen monks. These schools evolved into lineages that special families adopted and refined from the early 500s A.D. to this day. These schools also started to offer apprenticeship to those who wanted to study these traditions.

If we look at the well-known haiku tradition poets we find names such as Basho, Issa, Buson, and Shiki. Here are a couple of haiku by two of these artists.

“Ocean and water way beyond

You go, I stay

Two Autumns.” Shiki

In this haiku we can find the spirit of koans and look for the deeper meaning of its simple lines. 

“Sitting on her eggs

The chicken admires the Peony.” Issa

Here we admire the simple beauty of the daily, practical activity by the chicken, and it becomes more alive than it is.

What is significant and special about any form of mindful art is that it is a practice that is inspired by nature and can be developed by anyone who is paying attention on purpose to the present moment. It is simultaneously inspirational and meditative, and it brings happiness in its practice and product. It also allows the mind to open to non-conceptual thinking, to see the details of daily living, and to not take anything for granted while opening to more of the serenity, understanding, love, and wisdom that can be found in our lives. It is alluring and opens us to the great mystery of life. 

Allow yourself to take some informal, quiet time and focus on the natural world around you. Open to possibility and the training involved in whatever art form you feel attracted to, it can be a transferable knowledge applied to martial arts, medical arts, fine arts, music and dance.

Take good care and enjoy.

In Lovingkindness,