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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Friday, June 03, 2016
  thoughts on flow and meditation
Llano #2, 36"x30" oil, cold wax, pigment

For years I have thought of painting as the way that I practice meditation, because it can take me out of ordinary thought and into a different sense of time. This state of  creative "flow" is something many artists share, and long for when it eludes them. It's a sense of being at one with your work and materials, in which other thoughts and concerns fall away, You are not operating in clock time, but in the present moment--a moment that goes on until something intrudes. A habitual glance at the clock, an interruption, a minor frustration, physical needs or fatigue, or some other disruption inevitably jolts you back into ordinary consciousness.

But even if it lasts only a short time, I notice that a period of flow helps me feel renewed, energized and focused. Often I come out of this state of mind, look at something in process, and see exactly what needs to be done. In a way similar to being away for a day or two, I can see my work again clearly.

I believe that in this state of flow, deeper aspects of your intentions and abilities are accessed. The normal activities of the mind that judge, restrict, or argue with intuition are silenced for a while, allowing more of your creative truth to speak. It's not that there is no inner dialogue, at least for me. Some part of  my brain continues to observe, react, be inspired, and make decisions. But there is a special rightness to all of that--one thing leading to another, my hands falling easily on the colors and tools I want, and feeling pleasure in what is unfolding on the panel.  There is a feeling of peace and spaciousness.

Llano #1, 36"x30" , oil , cold wax, pigments

In recent days I've started a practice of regular sitting meditation, and although this practice is very new for me, I'm struck by the differences between that and creative flow in the studio. And having observed the differences, I don't think I will claim painting as meditation any more. What happens when I'm painting may be meditative, in the sense that my mind is quiet and contemplative. But it is also engaged with shifting thoughts and perceptions, and lots of body movement. And it involves memories and personal reflection. In meditation, though, there is a great stillness, lack of thought, a beautiful emptiness, and distancing from the ego. (I am too new at it to it to say much more than that, except that I think I'm hooked...)

It does seem that meditation and creative flow are related, and can enhance one another--that both help us to access deep parts of our being. Some of you who read my blog are no doubt experienced at meditation and I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you feel that meditation helps you in your work? Do you sense a connection with your ability to enter creative flow? Does it work both ways. in that the experience of creative flow helps in reaching a meditative state? Thanks for any comments.

I am well-acquainted with creative flow but a newbie at meditation, and intrigued by these ideas.

I also find that meditation helps prepare and settle my mind for the "non-thinking" state that enhances my art making. It often helps to simply sit for a few minutes in meditation to transition into the art mind. Being in the flow of working can also be very meditative when it happens, though I agree that it is not the same as sitting. When I can achieve this state of working and let go of my analytic and critical mind much better art results that both surprises and pleases me.

Well, I don't know if you'd call what I do meditation. I call it prayer. I sit and clear my mind and try to connect with the Holy Spirit and when I make that connection, I begin talking. I can feel a presence enter my body and I know we are having a dialogue. After that, very often, the presence stays with me while I work. It isn't always there, but when it is, the work flows so well I almost have to laugh out loud. I am happy that you are finding the meditation process enjoyable.
I combine a sitting meditation and a yoga flow meditation. I find they compliment each other and help me focus on my process in the studio. There are times when judgement needs to stop and the honestly of the working process is allowed. The work then begins to direct the process instead of the 'thinking' mind.

I think that we need "letting go" for painting; meditation is the best training ! Both are not easy. Sometimes it works ( my mind is wide open and calm, so the meditation is great and my work is fluent) and sometimes it's hard ( meditation is quite difficult with my mind full of troubles that i hardly calm down , and painting will not works well).
Meditation helps me a lot. I don't feel any fear anymore in front of my white paper or wood or what ever. I let it come and let it go much easier! It helps me to look at the accidents coming onto my work without panic and go on with them. I definitely need both of them.
Intriguing post...makes me think about the spiritual/meditative (or not) nature of studio time. Sometimes, it is just frustration with too many outside distractions conspiring to replace calm with chaos. But more and more i find myself in that place you speak of, Rebecca, where it feels that I am almost in suspended animation...that is - I feel like I am working in a bubble suspended away from the outside world. And in that bubble is a thoughtful, productive, highly animated other place. I don't lose myself in that place...I find myself.

I've done meditation practice involving sitting still and breathing calmly, focusing...for about 5 minutes. For me, my painting is meditation. I am aware that there is a mantra in the background of my mind..."thank you, universe, for this time and place, these materials and the skills both given and learned"...for me, it is a way of giving thanks and tapping into the spiritual. I think of my results as prayer flags: the symbols and mantras therein, the way they bless my walls (and, hopefully, someone else's).
such fascinating comments about different ways to interpret the meditative experience. Thank you all!
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       Rebecca Crowell