"Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone."
Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to spend four days in the company of over 200 artists, drawing. Meaning, doing Zentangle®. I really cannot describe the experience other than to say it was sheer heaven. Also exhausting. One thing I can say for sure is that I was scheduled to go with a good friend who was unable to come at the last minute due to illness. I really missed her.
This particular tile measures ten inches by ten inches and was one long moving meditation.
My friend Susie from Thailand and I were discussing images of Buddha and agreeing that one doesn't have to be religious or have any belief in Buddhism to enjoy the wonderful art inspired by his history. The art on its own is peaceful. She commented on this after seeing the white-clay Buddha in my previous post (July 20th).
I drew the picture above several years ago, probably around the time I bought that small white ceramic tile. It represents the "old" in the title of this post.
It's true--just looking at images of Buddha always makes me feel calmer, and I remember feeling that way when I drew this. As a long-time meditation practitioner, I'm interested in Buddhism for its psychological value--it is a truly wonderful way to challenge our own thoughts, and to learn kindness. I'm happy the West has finally discovered the wisdom of Buddhist thought, and at the same time, I never think of Buddhism as a religion and do not believe that the Buddha ever intended it would become a "religion" with all the attendant dogma.
Far from it.
After digging out that drawing today, I thought I'd spend some time tangling, trying out a tangle called Zonked, by Barbara Finwall. Susie had just done her version of Zonked (see the 3rd tile down in her post) which I loved, and she inspired me. While testing it out, I added Hanny Waldburger's tangle Namaste, in honor of of Buddha. This represents the "new" in today's post title. Here is the result.
If you are also a fan of Buddha-heads, you may want to check out Virginia Peck's lovely art here.
And now, it's time for me to go meditate.
...during which, I promptly fell completely asleep. Which suggested to me I needed to wake up and keep tangling. First I finished the meditation, then I did this. While not my greatest result, I like it on several levels.
I admit I am somewhat mixing my religions and cultures here. Hanuman is the Hindu monkey-god known for his strength and devotion (and much loved by Ram Dass, the longtime meditation teacher, author, and speaker). Hanuman is normally depicted with a human body, but I hope we can cut him a little slack here. And then of course, there's Buddha. Actually, Hanuman is also found in some Buddhist teachings as well, but not as commonly as in Hinduism.
I put Buddha in Hanuman's lap because I thought this "alternative version of Hanuman" might need a dose of equanimity before he got crammed into a box and mailed off to a friend as a gift to her 8 month old son. So, Hindu and Buddhist figures are playing together in this photo.
[NOTE: Hanuman is now on his way to his next adventure - he's in the mail - and I've no doubt he is fully up to it.]
This is another wonderful toy made by my next-door neighbor. She has a large assortment of hand-knitted toys--penguins, ducks, dogs, kitties, dinosaurs, you name it. All beautifully made. And then there is all her other lovely knitting, but since I don't have pictures, I won't go into that. But you can imagine how kids react to these toys! It's pandemonium when she sells them at fairs. She is so clever.
Still playing around with this lovely tangleation of Verdigogh, and finding it so restful to do. It's a wonderful form of moving meditation.
I am beyond excited to have finally obtained permission to use images from an artist I admire in some of my punch needle embroidery pieces. This is a long story and I'll save it for another post, but I have been trying to track down the artist for months and am so happy to have accomplished this goal. I think the "meandering paths" in the mandala above reflect how complicated it was to identify and locate him. Today feels like I've come full circle with this--hence, a mandala.
I did the above piece last night just before bed, using CZT Sadelle Wiltshire's Creative Calm Circle video for what she called a "Flora Vine" piece. It's a variation of the tangle Verdigogh. So calming. I went straight to sleep afterwards. The repetitive nature of the drawing here allows for genuine mindfulness. I'll be trying this again!
Just drawing repetitive lines is soooooooo relaxing. Any excuse to just do some linework and I can feel my breathing slow, my focus deepen, and the world falls away.
A good thing to know about in these troubled times.
At the museum, a troubled woman destroys a sand painting meticulously created over days by Tibetan monks. The monks are not disturbed. The work is a meditation. They simply begin again.
After doing my regular meditation this morning, I watched a recent "Creative Calm Circle" led by Sadelle Wiltshire of Vermont. As I've mentioned before on this blog, Sadelle specializes in meditative arts. This particular exercise was another continuous line drawing--the task was to NOT lift the pen from the page, and meditatively draw a tree. I really enjoyed it. In all, I think I lifted my pen up no more than 4 or 5 times while drawing steadily for about 25 minutes.
I didn't choose a real tree; this is an imaginary one. But the lightning scar comes from my childhood--there was a wonderful huge old oak tree in my front yard and it had survived being struck by lightning twice. It had a large lightning scar down the front of its skyscraping trunk. Sadly, the tree was removed about 20 years ago, but it lives forever in my memory as "The Survivor Tree." I loved that tree and its wisdom. When I was a child and troubled, it always comforted me.
The tree I drew today is not an oak. And the tree from my childhood did not have any vines on it. So without trying to recreate any particular tree, I added the lightning scar simply as a grateful memory in this drawing.
Continuous line work gives me the chance to let go and not worry about something "looking right." There's plenty wrong with the look of this one, but I just don't care. It was relaxing, meditative, and poignant to draw. Thanks, Sadelle!
Indeed I have not posted in a while. I'm in the final frenzy of unpacking, having moved late last March and then having had to wait/wait/wait for a post-move broken bone to heal. Now I'm crazed to be done. The end is in sight! Once I'm finished, I will actually get to put pictures on my walls. I miss my pictures very much.
No art at all is going on while I'm in this phase. But today I attended a free 1-hour "Creative Calm Online Circle" by my buddy Sadelle Wiltshire (well done, Sadelle!) and she led us through this meditative "continuous line exercise." The above is the wonky but fun result. Continuous line drawing is exactly what it sounds like: you never lift your pen off the page; you just meander along with pen on paper and see where the line takes you. It's not Zentangle®. It's not supposed to "look like" anything...just see where the pen goes. It's a very old art "warm-up" technique. Fun and calming. I did a second one in about three minutes, below:
I welcomed any chance to do something calming today, as yesterday a neighbor slipped and fell on black ice near my house and cracked his head (he's fine--no concussion or real damage). He spent hours in the ER and it must have been scary. It was scary just to hear about it. I'm glad he's ok.
Then this morning I discovered my credit card had fraudulent charges on it, and had to cancel that. Immediately after that unpleasantness, I tuned into the online Creative Calm Circle; it was just what I needed.
Need some relaxation?
Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh...doesn't that feel better?
Look what arrived on my doorstep today. Oh boy oh boy.
NOTE to those who don't have time to read: I DID NOT MAKE THESE OR DRAW ON THEM. THEY CAME THIS WAY.
Golden Lotus boots. Talk about mad love for an object--wow. Love these.
I sent pictures to friends who know I tangle and they all went crazy for my amazing artwork. They thought I made them. Thank you to everyone who even had that passing thought. I wish!!! But I DIDN'T MAKE THESE. I just bought them, as is. They're commercial boots. I took one look at them and helplessly succumbed.
Did I need them? No. Did I have to have them? Oh yeah. Am I sorry? You're kidding, right? NO.
I fear this makes me the Imelda Marcos of mindfulness practitioners. Uh-oh.
This tangle is just too much darned fun to draw! Once again it went somewhere I couldn't have imagined.
The Connection Between Zentangle and Traditional Meditation:
I enjoy the way that Zentangle® and my other meditation practice regularly take me where I hadn't expected to go. There's a nice article in Psychology Today magazine on why Zentangle is so meditative HERE.
If you have ever wanted to meditate, but feel that you can't because "my mind just won't stop!" you are experiencing the #1 fallacy about meditation--that the mind should, or will, stop thinking. It's the job of the mind to think! It is certainly not going to stop for meditation...but with experience, you may find that you notice some quieter spaces or times when your thoughts seem to be running on "dim" in the background. So don't let your noisy mind stop YOU because IT won't stop. Just the fact that you are noticing the noise is a very good sign--you are not "doing it wrong," you are, in fact, doing it right.
Why am I bringing this up? Because Zentangle is a form of moving meditation, and often people find it easier to begin with something along those lines rather than plunging into formal meditation. And you do not need any art talent at all to learn to tangle. NONE. Yes, that is true. If you can sign your name, you can tangle.
What you'll find as you're tangling is: Focus. Attention. Silence. Slowing down. You will even learn to tolerate and handle mistakes; you'll learn not to judge something in the very moment you are creating it, but to stand back and evaluate later. You'll learn patience--although you will need a lot less of this than you might assume. You'll be loving the results--but even more, you will truly love the process.
Gee, that sounds like a lot of learning. But surprisingly, it comes without effort. You'll be so focused on the pleasurable process of drawing lines that you won't even notice what you've learned until later. And--you'll be learning about meditation in that same effortless way.
To find a teacher, just go to the main Zentangle website HERE and look for their list of Certified Zentangle Teachers (also known as "CZTs"). There's a good chance you will find a CZT neaby. Have fun!
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class will be for a private group in October. That class is full.
I'll be teaching another beginning class at the Greenfield Community Center in the spring of 2019, date to be determined. They do not have a website so please call them for more information.
I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society