Imagination through Art
Good Morning. I was reading an article written by Norman Fischer, Zen teacher and poet, who wrote, “Zen has probably saved me from myself; poetry has probably saved me from Zen.” Fischer describes our tendency to get “frozen” in all things including mindfulness practice. By this, Fischer means that we get locked into patterns and ways of thinking about ourselves and others and we can try so hard we are ineffective. We can work so hard at relaxing that we are tense. This is often true for people trying to fall asleep when they are tired and really want to sleep, but can’t shut off their minds.
We often impose on ourselves a rigidity that tells us we must “get it right.” We often live under the illusion that there is only one way to act or to be effective or authentic. When we are not successful, instead of getting more creative, we often increase control. For an athlete who is stuck, often the solution is not repeating the same incorrect move—the solution may be a day doing a different sport or a day off altogether. The tighter we try to control, or to force ourselves and others into submission, the more we suffer. Much of mindfulness is about disciplining the mind to focus, but the key is to do so without harshness or we will become, as Fischer said, “frozen.” We become counterproductive. Fischer says the way out of stuckness is with art and imagination.
When I was young, I despised art class. I didn’t even like looking at art because I didn’t get it. I constantly asked myself what the Right answer was. I didn’t focus on my experience of a picture, I wanted to know what others said it was about. Truly experiencing art or music requires throwing yourself into participation with the piece—without judgment. It gets us unstuck. There is no right or wrong way to experience art, so it allows us (if we let it) to be freed from rigidity.
For today’s practice, take a few breaths in and out, and close your eyes if you like, Click the following link and listen…do nothing else but listen and breathe:
Now, you have rebooted. Enjoy the weekend!