Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I love my leaf

Mirabai Bush tells a great story on the podcast On Being with Krista Tippett. Marabai is teaching a meditation class to college students at Amherst. After not getting any questions or responses from them after a few classes of meditation she decides...

... to give them a practice of the next morning, the practice of mindfulness of an object and I gave them each a leaf and there they were to bring their awareness to the leaf, and then as distractions arose let them go and bring your mind back to your leaf. So we did that for 5 or 10 minutes, which is a long time to look, you know, usually you look at a leaf and you say, “Oh, OK, I saw it.” And then you put it down. So then — I didn't really expect that anybody was going to say anything, but I left a couple of moments at the end and nobody did.
And then this one football player in the back row raised his hand, and he had become, in my mind, the person who most was, kind of, resisting making himself vulnerable in any way. He said, “Can I say something?” I said, "Definitely." He said, "I love my leaf."
I love this story. 
Looking deeply at something to paint or draw or photograph can be a process of falling in love. To really see the object, and not just the symbol of the object or the objectification of it, but the true object. You would think this would just be a technical endeavor, about line and shading expertise.

But truly something else happens when you really look to see. The immersion of looking with the intention of witnessing the essence of something becomes an act of falling in love. And except in art or meditation there is so rarely the chance to slow down to see truly. I'm experimenting with combining ink line and painting here. I love the detail of the petals that is possible.

This is a photo from my morning walk. I can look and look at it and certainly fall in love with such exquisite unfolding life.

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