A Mindful Artist's Toolbox
cigarette in sidewalk snow, boston, ma 2009
Mindful art making expands our eco-awareness. The conscious choices for our art making, now, mirror the same choices I try to practice regarding the natural and material world that we all share.
Take a walk outside. Locate a displaced object or slice of nature.
Before doing anything else, PAUSE! Be with whatever you have selected to get to know more fully. Allow the natural inclination of things – impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete – to be noticed and embraced.
Practice quieting the volume on unrelated thoughts, other places you need to be or what should happen next, and allow yourself to be with this memory, picture, or object for a minute. Go ahead, with steady breathing and a lengthened spine to welcome fresh energy, elevate your awareness. In honor of all ways of life, I invite you to join me – as I try to do myself, about once a week – to reflect on the natural state of things.
Elevate awareness of what you have chosen to notice through your senses and lessen distractibility. After pausing choose from the following: refrain, honoring things just as they are; respond via an original point of view through conversation, journaling, poetry, essay, memoir, or storytelling; or repurpose the thing into a hybrid thing.
Natural v. Nurtured States of Beauty
Art is not only décor or ambience, it frames everything as it is, as it is not, as it should be, and as it never should be again. The artist decides the stuff that matters based on their impulses.
Think about nature by comparison, for a moment. Are you aware of or value its authentic states. Is there a difference, for instance, when you walk through an overgrown path of woods rather than a manicured Italian Garden that you’ve paid admission to see? Is one really more valuable than the other? Applying a mindful artist’s outlook, I propose not. Yet, one is more typically viewed as majestic or artistic. If the Italian Garden persists as the essence of one’s aesthetic, well – that’s all fine and good.
However, I encourage expanding your angle on nature, like your angle on yourself, shifting into equal regard for polished and inherent states. Think of your local woods as a representation of you, yourself, as a natural muse. Just as nature may be: overgrown, thorny, dark at times, yet lush, so may you be. Awareness of who you are, organically, and where you situate, now, we access a broader toolbox. I could have never succeeded as a choreographer, let alone demonstrated the movements desired of my dancers, if I hadn’t adopted a turned-in foundation. My twentysomething knees and alignment would not allow me to prance like a ballerina anymore, but – dang – I could romp a riot with my feet facing one another.
Artistry breathes more freely when our beings, like our planet, are honored, tended to, and appreciated rather than polluted or overly manicured. Fuller awareness, and the acceptance of this awareness, expands artistry from the source. YOU are YOU, WOODS ARE WOODS, and both are bold, beautiful collections of things just as they situate.