23/07/2024 9:51 AM

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Adorn your Feelings

Meditation and Art

3 min read

The field of Meditative Art can be truly understood if we sincerely investigate and discover the meaning of the two terms that it is composed of. Although we may be very familiar with the terms “Art” and “Meditation”, it is beneficial that we first define each one of these terms, from a beginner’s point of view, before we see how and where they connect.

Art

The term Art generally means the process or product of intentionally arranging items: objects, symbols or colors. This is done in a way that will influence or affect the intellect, one or more of the senses, as well as our emotions. Art is an expression of creativity and it can be applied through a wide range of forms or ways that include the various performance arts, visual arts and the like.

The work of art and creativity is explored throughout different fields such as: culture, philosophy, religion, history and psychology; analyzing its relationship with humans and its change through time and place. Traditionally, the term Art was used in reference to any skill, talent or mastery. This understanding changed throughout the Romantic period, when art first began to be seen as “a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science” (Gombrich, Ernst. (2005). “Press statement on The Story of Art”. The Gombrich Archive.)

Meditation

The English word meditation is derived from the Latin – meditatio, which means: to contemplate, think, reflect or ponder. Traditionally, the term Meditation refers to a practice in which the mind is trained or controlled, as a means for Self-realization. Meditation is generally an introverted personal practice, guided by a spiritual master or doctrine. The practice of meditation cannot be traced back in time; it has served and still does serve an important and integral part of religions and spiritual paths worldwide. A great meditation teacher once told me that “there are as many mediation methods as there are meditation practitioners, times the number of their practice”. (Swami Anubhavanada). There are countless ways and techniques available and possible for meditation. The field of mediation has been and still is researched in science, as well as medicine, culture, and of course, religion, philosophy and spirituality.

The connection between Art and Meditation

Historically

The connection between Art and Meditation seems to have been part of humanity since time immemorial. Each spiritual path throughout human history has integrated into its spiritual practice some form of art, as a means for growth and inspiration or as a way to present its mythological stories as well as its gods and goddesses. We can find evidence of these practices in ancient sculptures, cave paintings and prehistorically objects, as well as in traditional literature. Known examples are found in great and ancient civilizations such as: Mesopotamia, Persia, India, China, ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, Inca and Maya. Each culture developed a specific and distinguishable method and style in relation with its particular spiritual philosophy as well as the materials and techniques available.

Meditation and art in our time

Meditative Art is supportive practice for meditation, and is it popular nowadays among religions and spiritual paths which make use and develop art in different fields to facilitate spiritual seekers. Some of the most popular of these are Zen Calligraphy, Indian Madala paintings and Sufi dance.

Meditative Art

Meditative Art is defined as “applying a meditative state of mind in the process of creating”. It is a spiritual practice that aims to support a spiritual seeker on his or her journey towards self- realization or truth. This practice is not simply creating something that is associated with spiritual themes nor is it therapy or a journey to one’s unconscious.

The practice of meditative art focuses on the practitioner’s state of mind, rather than on the created product or art work, as customary in regular art classes. The result of this practice is the spiritual upliftment and progress of the artist. The masterpiece or product created is only a reflection of the inner state from which creativity was expressed.

The artist’s intention is to be present, attentive and available so that creativity can flow through. The artist’s personal feelings, ideas and thoughts are put aside as the artist becomes like an empty vessel, or, as revered Sufi spiritual master and artist Rumi so beautifully describes this state, as becoming a flute through which one’s unique tune can be played by the divine.

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