Transformation Through Meditation
by Marilyn Hurst
Sometimes, when writing for magazines or newspapers and I’m not sure what I want to write about, the trick seems to be finding a glimmer of an idea and then just run with it.
A thread of an idea can unravel into a full blown article without much effort, but having said that lots of ideas can float around and not amount to much.
This technique is a “playing with a stream of consciousness” kind of thing and one example of what I want to explore more in this particular article. Let’s call it change and its ramifications for our own transformation.
As human beings and creators it is in our best interest to know more about how and why we manifest what we do. Of course awareness is the key and knowing is the result of such exploration. We are curious beings and it’s our natural function to explore our awareness, to see and feel the results and to know how to effect changes for our benefit.
If we look outside ourselves for answers we’ll get them, “pressed down and running over” and more so than at any other time in our human history, for our lives are intrinsically connected to the Internet and electronic media.
Experts abound on just about any topic dealing with anything we can think or dream about. Great inspirational writings of history are instantaneously available as are the great teachers of esoteric wisdom which appear on your screen with a touch of the finger. Courses in human development and betterment, how-to’s on everything from boosting self esteem to over-coming addictions can be accessed by self-help gurus who are available to us on-line 24/7.
Despite all this accessibility, we still flounder about and sometimes the mass of information only serves to confuse rather than enlighten us. We jump from one idea, teaching or another hoping to find “the definitive answer” that will end our questioning and give us some kind of respite. Somehow we have picked up the belief that there is some great plan, idea or solution, that if only we can grasp it; some perfect way of being that if only we can be it, that will ease the suffering for ourselves and humanity as a whole. Even a cursory think on this idea would prove that this is quite an insurmountable endeavor.
The universe and even our own planet is a constantly changing, ever in flux, idea, concept and imagining thing that is unknowable, despite our attempts at conquering and exploring it. Physicists study it and come away equally perplexed. Scientists are at a loss to understand it, but that doesn’t stop them from examining, studying, testing, exploring and coming up with ever more inventive and elaborate theories to explain the unexplainable.
The average human is subjected to ever more concepts which do little to ease the pain of the unanswerable question of “why we are here and what am I supposed to do with this life?” View points, events, situations, concepts, ideas, relationships, feelings in fact everything in life is in constant change, flashing in and out of our awareness. The nature of change is change and maybe we just have to learn to deal with it and accept it as part of life’s mystery.
So how do we deal with this morphing world of ours? If we contemplate this so called problem and look closely, we can see that although things, people, events, nature, ideologies, nations, everything in fact does change, it’s really our reaction or response to these changes that determine our state of happiness and well being.
Each person is a self-contained barometer of his own making and the thoughts and images that whirl about can be looked at and examined to see if they in fact are meaningful, or if they are “world thoughts” or other peoples’ ideas and not applicable to his life. Plug into the TV or internet and you are instantly at one with everyone and event going on anywhere in our world. Our minds process this information consciously and subliminally and since it’s major function is to inform us of our environment through awareness, often we find that our immediate reaction to what we view might not be nurturing, giving us a sense of well-being, but may evoke a negative reaction in our emotional system making us feel ill at ease, fearful, stressed and uncomfortable.
Thought follows thought in predictable patterns and if we are not conscious and alert, these thoughts can lead us down a path, not of our immediate choosing, but down the road we’ve paved over years of habitual unconscious, unexamined thought taking.
Breaking negative thought patterns is no easy task and most people are not even unaware that they are being taken for a ride by their own thinking. The ancient wisdom sages have likened the human mind to a wild horse. It’s up to the individual to discipline their own mind in order to gain some modicum of awareness, otherwise events, people, their own bodies and lives are like a runaway horse; you’re in the saddle but you have no control over anything.
Slowing everything down is a good start. Taking time out to sit in nature or quietly by ourselves can give us some necessary space to check in and see “how we are”. Most of us are not even aware of how noisy and busy our lives are what with cell phones, blackberries, TVs, blaring music, traffic, wailing sirens and our hectic schedules filling up our time and senses day to day. Early morning and before bed are good times to sit and take inventory with ourselves. Much of our day to day thought taking is idle banter and commentary, however this is time wasting and counterproductive to a creative, fulfilled life.
If we were to watch our mind we’d be amazed at how judgmental we are of ourselves or others and likewise how critical. Most of the time we’re not even conscious that we have this running dialog going on and there is no one on the planet who is 100% free of this internal taskmaster. Sitting quietly for even a few minutes a day, watching our thoughts will prove this to ourselves. This simple practice could herald the breakthrough we need to start our own transformation.
In my opinion, taking personal responsibility for our own head space is the first major step in maturity. When we’ve exhausted every avenue for laying the blame for our misfortunes, bad luck and bad choices on ourselves, our others or the world, then perhaps we can take a long, deep and quiet look inside ourselves. When we can watch the thought patterns that habitually have led us to make decisions over and over that harm rather than nurture us, or calcified ideas from our childhood that limit our potential, we are then in a position of power and dominion.
I had a high school art teacher that informed me I had no talent and should give up any thought of going into the arts for a profession. At 41, I began painting and discovered I had a whole well spring of creativity in my soul. Breaking out of the conditioned thinking from my childhood imposed by parents, teachers, friends and experiences took time, but success eventually came and for the past 15 years 1 have lived my life as an artist.
Through meditation I learned that nothing is impossible to the human spirit. We can move past our negative conditioning and explore new vistas and bring creativity, peace and harmlessness into our lives and by extension, the lives of those around us. It’s never too early or too late to begin this introspection. We can’t even begin to solve the problems of this world until we solve the problems of our own personal lives. Taking control of our inner world is the solution to our own personal well beingness and the world of our own creating, the one we live, move and have our being in.
I love this article and agree completely. When I sculpt I’ve come to regard it as a purely meditative process.
My best work by far happens when I’m not thinking about the clay in my hands, and when at the end of a long session I go out to get a coffee and some air and wen I come back a while later to look at my piece I sometimes have a hard time believing I did that work because I can’t remember the details of doing it. It’s like when you park your car in your driveway and you have a short panic attack because you can’t remember driving home. You’ve done it so many times the car drives itself.
I get totally absorbed in my head and the outside world disappears completely. It’s scary because when I forst started sculpting I was aware of every movement and thought process. My work was mechanical, but once I quit worrying about my technique it improved radically. It seemed like the transformation happened overnight but it really took years to get to that comfrt zone. I’ve heard of musicians saying they take on another persona as soon as their foot hits the stage. I feel the same way when I walk into my studio. That level of focus though only comes with hundreds and hundreds of hours of sculpting. I don’t think there is a shortcut.
Sometimes in the studio I can’t tell if I’m making decisions or the work is making the decisions for me and I’m just following. I feel like I’m in a dream state. It took years, and it was only after I took up yoga that I realised I was meditating. I thought it was just daydreaming, but it’s much more profound.
Hi Donna and thanks for your reply to my missive. How very blessed we are to have immersed ourselves in art and have the opportunity to express it.
Truly people need to be “creating” not “doing”, the benefits are astounding.
Please stay in touch and best of everything. hugs Marilyn
I want to thank you for this article as well. I agree that art can be a form of meditation and that when you are in that zone the whole world disappears. Art can be transformative on so many levels. I also have seen in my work as a workshop facilitor with hundreds of students over the years at least one child in each session who says that someone has told them they could not write. By the end of my time with them not only are they writing but they are the ones putting up their hands to share their work. I think encouraging this kind of work in children is really important as it not only gives them a tool by which to cope with lifes sometimes difficult situations it also allows for those truly creative souls to get a headstart on a lifetime of creativity.
Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society
Hi Bonnie and thank you for taking the time to read my article and comment on it. I am in total agreement with you re: children. Cookie cutter education can side-line the creative child and hopefully more teachers are becoming more aware of the ways to channel and encourage rather than ignore or reproach children who process this world in their own way. gracias for responding — hugs m
Very nice and well put Marilyn.
Taking responsibility and understanding that change begin with oneself is key. One of my favorite quotes by Mahatma Gandhi is:
” Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.
Thank you Doris,
As artists it’s our responsibility to maintain our “groove” and as well stated “be the change we want for our world”. hugs m
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