Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chad Theory

Inner space comes as a stillness, a subtle peace deep within you, even in the face of something seemingly bad. Suddenly there is space around the event. There is also space around the emotional highs and lows, even around pain. And above all, there is space between your thoughts. And from that space emanates a peace that is not "of this world," because this world is form, and the peace is space. This is the peace of God.
-- Eckhart Tolle, Oneness With All Life

I don't normally write about dreams, but this one was so amazing I just had to share it. I dreamed a young woman, college-age, came to me and wanted to show me her art. So I wandered over to where she was working, and she was creating amazing images of women and children interacting together. The images were painstakingly constructed out of chad-sized pieces of magazine photos: in essence, she was doing collage work, but out of these teeny tiny pieces, rather like those computer generated images that are made from thousands of smaller images pieced together.

She had several of these images -- she was putting them together with tweezers and glue -- laid out in a sort of grid on a tabletop, and I turned to tell her how impressed I was, but she had walked away to talk to someone else. I started after her, and then decided just to wait at her workstation, and turned back to look at her table. But from the slight distance I had aquired, the images became a unit together on the table, and formed a soft and pleasing landscape scene, completely different in character from the harder-edged pieces she was creating.

So I called her over to show her the larger effect, and then dreamed I woke up. But actually, I was still asleep, and somehow I had become a a physicist, complete with lab coat, and was examining the phenomenon of the layers of images to figure out why the smaller ones had such a completely different character from the large one.

And in my scientist mode I had this amazing epiphany: that her individual images, the ones created so painstakingly out of chad, were not really important; that unlike the chad pieces, whose colors and values were so critical to her collages, those collages, sitting disconnected on the table before me, contributed almost nothing to the larger image but a sort of soft, ethereal background: it was the space between her pieces that told the larger, more important story -- rather as if you were looking at a painting of a horse in a field behind a lattice fence, and the chadpieces were the little glimpses you could see between the lattice strips; not really contributing much to the overall painting.

So then I awoke and came downstairs for my coffee and my reading. And this morning's reading included the above quote. Coincidence? Hmm. I think not: it's inevitable that what I am learning and reading and writing about will begin to manifest itself in my dreams. And so I sat down to try and create an image which would convey visually (although it's not nearly as rich and complex) the concept of my dream. If you look really closely at the fence, you can see the soul collages I made over the weekend, which offered such fascinating (and occasionally worrisome) insights into my thought patterns. But those images -- and the thought patterns that infused them -- are just like little bits of computer chad -- a very small part of the overall picture, which is built into the space around them.

And in a related thought -- John O'Donohue says in his book Eternal Echoes (which I picked up shortly after I read the Tolle piece) that it is the distance between us and within us which protects us and fuels our longing for intimacy and oneness. So there's another way to look at the importance of the space between...

So -- if we want to become more conscious of that space between-- Tolle offers this a few pages later:

"Be aware of your breathing. Notice how this takes attention away from thinking and creates space... One conscious breath is enough to make some space where before there was the uninterrupted succession of one thought after another. One conscious breath (two or three would be even better), taken many times a day, is an excellent way of bringing space into your life. Even if you meditated on your breathing for two hours or more... one breath is all you ever need to be aware of, indeed ever can be aware of. The rest is memory or anticipation, which is to say, thought....Also, notice the brief cessation of the breath, particularly the still point at the end of the out-breath, before you start breathing in again."

I've decided I will try this today. Instead of meditating, I will create small spaces for myself around the work I do, taking two or three conscious breaths, feeling the space between thoughts... I'll let you know how it goes!

PS: AFTER I wrote today's blog and poem I opened my mail to find this quote, sent to me last night by my friend Robin:

"The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it." -- Sri Nisargadatta



Joyce Wycoff said...

Diane ... great post! Amazing dream and the "space between" is so rich for contemplation today. I too will focus on conscious breaths today.

Maureen said...

Echoing Joyce, great post. That was some dream!

Focusing on breathing has always produced for me quite a different result from meditating on a thought. Getting in that space between can be an amazing experience.

And in another can-you-believe-we're channeling: In my post today on micro-sculptor Willard Wigan, I mention how he must control how he breaths, and breathe between heart beats. What he creates when he gets it right is a wonder.