Sunday, May 29, 2011

On transforming the mind

Photography's a bit of a hard sell these days, now that digital cameras are so intelligent and so many people have access to them.  Not that I ever expected to make money at this, but these days it's particularly challenging to get back even a small portion of the investment in money and time.

Since framing finished work is a fixed cost, I'm always looking for alternative ways to display my work -- especially ones that move it out of the realm of standard photography.   So here's something I'm currently exploring: mounting my more abstract works on box frames and then further embellishing them.

This was the first of a set of three, and with each I was exploring different techniques, and -- again, do you get a theme here? -- trying to push through the blocks that prevent me from "messing with things"; trying new approaches, trying to honor whatever in me is attempting to express itself.

I picked up a copy of the Dalai Lama's book, Transforming the Mind, this morning, and reading what he has to say about meditation practice I realize my particular practice may be part of what's making it challenging to create new work.  Because the way my meditation currently works is that whenever I become aware of thoughts that are taking me away from my center, I make a conscious decision to release them; I push them away and stubbornly return to center.  Which, in essence, means I am rejecting them.

This approach has served me well over the last 10 years: it quiets and centers me, prepares me for the day, and has trained me to release the kinds of minor irritations that can arise during the day.  And I get that this is a form of discipline; that I do it because I want to still the active chatter on the surface levels of thinking; to tap into a deeper level of consciousness.

But isn't it possible that -- for the purposes of creativity -- the general theory of "if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him" (or the Centering Prayer equivalent, about releasing even the Virgin Mary if she appears to you) might be more likely to extinguish than to encourage the creative process?  What if I were to more gently acknowledge the presence of the thoughts that pass through?  Not necessarily to get caught up in them, but to explore them; invite them to share insights...

Surely this would be the advantage of mindfulness meditation over my current practice -- not that I want to go tripping off after all the old litanies or the petty concerns that have a way of arising, but to be attentive enough to discern the thoughts; to make conscious decisions to release or explore them as would seem appropriate.  Wouldn't this foster more attentiveness and creativity?  Mightn't it honor and cultivate inner wisdom?

At least it's worth a try...

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