Years ago (too many for me to want to count) I came across a book called How to Meditate without Leaving the World by Avery Brooke. I can’t remember much about the rest of the book, but the first exercise made a big impact on me. Simple and absorbing, it involved spending ten or so minutes observing a natural object, faithfully recording the details, then spending some time in quiet contemplation until an insight arose.
Eager to try it, I went outside and picked a stem of grass, one that had offshoots from the main stem. I became totally engrossed in my observation and started to notice things I’d never consciously seen before. There were thorn-like growths where the new leaves emerged from the stem, but as the leaves grew bigger, the ‘thorns’ grew smaller.
A light bulb went on in my brain … that wonderful ‘aha’ experience that comes with a flash of insight. My son was about four years old at the time and beginning to get rather adventurous. Like most mothers, I was a little over-protective. The grass shoots taught me that, as my son grew, my protectiveness needed to diminish.
Someone once said that everything you need to know about life can be learned from nature. I believe it. And why not … all creatures share the same Spirit.
Later, when I encountered the work of Betty Edwards (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain) and Frederick Franck (The Zen of Seeing: Drawing as Meditation), I combined some of their techniques with the simple nature exercise and developed a process which results in beautiful drawings and insightful writings. The drawing intensifies seeing, and opens the eyes of the soul.
This was my first experience of the transformative power of art. I use ‘art’ in the broad sense here, to include all the arts. Artistic skill is not necessary. All that is needed is a desire to discover and express what is in your heart.
I’d like some day to have a creative centre that focuses on the spiritual, transformative and healing power of all the arts … a place where people can learn to release their full potential through creativity. I’m not sure how it will unfold, but I’ve taken the first small steps.
On Sunday, 31 May, I shall present my first workshop on “How to Meditate without Leaving the World“. If you live in or near Brisbane (Australia) contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
deep in my burgundy heart
a star shines
lighting my path