I am at Molly Swan’s Creativity and Meditation Workshop. I clearly see my hand touching pastel to paper while drawing this piece of fruit I can’t name. The act is totally absorbing, holding my attention and interest.
Right now, there is no self-judgment and the drawing is enough. I am enough. At times, blending the colour there is no “I” here, only hand, pastel and object, just this moment.
This is mindfulness.
We move between meditative practice, poetry, silent drawing and discussion. We experience things directly. We see, we express, without allowing an attachment to what should be produced or what isn’t or what might be. We draw in this moment, just as we can sit when we’re not somewhere else in our heads, whether that be in a memory, fantasy or some finger-pointing about how we’re not getting it right, whatever “it” is.
Molly instructs us to try to bring a basic friendliness (or Metta) to our experience as best we can.
“Creativity is an opening that allows a response. It is a practice of patience, listening and just showing up,” she says.
Art turns us, if we let it toward our experience–whether it is joyful or frustrating–with curiosity and the wonderment of not knowing.
To explore our creative practice Molly takes us through a number of exercises, telling us if we make a mistake to just start again on the drawing we’re working on:
- Using a magic marker, we draw a kitchen utensil or tool with the non-dominant hand.
- Using the dominant hand, we make a line drawing of it without taking the marker off the page or looking at the paper.
- Using one pastel, we make a line drawing of a fruit, vegetable or flower and with colour, really looking to see what is there.
- We write a poem about the experience and then draw the object again.
We can begin again. Because we can, because we’re willing to do so, we ultimately can gain the ability to see with fresh eyes, without attachment to outcome or not-good-enough thinking. We can contemplate what gets in the way. Molly tells us bringing patience, tenderness, persistence and friendliness to our experience allows us to open up to experiencing the difficult.
Often things are only a problem if we feed them with our repetitive thinking and resistance. I see how this applies to everything. The art and my reaction to it is simply a metaphor for the rest of my life. It’s all a practice and for these few hours I’m not getting in my own way.
What helps you see more clearly? What helps you get out of your own way?