For some months now, I have been sharing my thoughts on mindfulness and how to practice it. Today I invite you to become mindful of mindfulness around you. Mindfulness is generally talked about as an action-oriented practice – as an active practice of calming breaths and conscious effort to bring oneself completely into the present moment. However, mindfulness exists all around us, if only we would care to look.
To witness mindfulness in action, for an extended duration of time is surreal and an act of mindfulness in itself, as I recently experienced. A few months ago, I had an opportunity to engage in mindfulness as an observer at a portraiture workshop. It was a unique, moving experience, made even more interesting by the fact that I was there not as an amateur artist, but as a muse.
Mindfulness in Art
I have grown up in a family that has its connections to art. With a grandfather who passionately pursued poetry and paintings as a hobby, I have a fair understanding of how artists work. I distinctly recall that feeling of awe as I would watch him engaged completely in the creative process, working with concentration that is characteristic of artists. What I did not realise then (for want of maturity and maybe because mindfulness was not yet as widely popular a theory as it is now) was that I was in the presence of mindfulness in action.
As I walked into the art studio a few months ago, a strong feeling of déjà vu engulfed me. I had stepped into another world. Easels, canvasses, colouring mediums and soft opera music set the scene for three hours of artistic creativity. I was of course expecting such a setting.
But what I had not expected was a breath taking, up close and personal experience at observing mindfulness in action. For three hours, these amazingly talented people were totally in the moment. In those three hours only three things existed, the muse, the canvas and the colours. The music in the background was a delightful bonus more for me than for them (the theme of the workshops being portraitures of various ethnicities and happily for me, we switched to Bollywood music in the background to set the mood).
There have been numerous opportunities for me to sit still, during meditation sessions, meetings at work, impromptu ‘statue/ freeze’ callouts with my children to name a few. However, these have been for much shorter durations and in all of these scenarios, I and others around me, have together been engaged in the activity.
But there I was, trying to sit as still as I possibly could, with only the blink of my eyes and slow breathing any indication of movement and across from me, all around were these artists, who worked with a single thought – that of recreating on canvas what they could see in front of them. They were completely in the moment and watching them I had a eureka moment – I had become mindful of mindfulness around me, a passive observer of the perfect harmony despite fervent activity that mindfulness alone can create.
It was an experience sublime and one that I shall cherish forever. It was like stepping into a mindfulness zone right in the middle of the usual hustle bustle of a busy Friday morning.
If you wish to experience the all engulfing power of mindfulness, I urge you to engage in an act of creativity, ideally as the doer, however if not that, then as an observer. Observe an artist in action – a painter, a dancer, a musician. Observe them with absolute attention. And when you do, you will feel the stillness of the moment. It will surround you, the magical powerful enigma of the intense unison of thought, action and breath, and it will blow you away.
And you will walk away richer for the experience. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we performed every action, from the most mundane such as doing the dishes to driving to conversing with friends in just such a manner? What mindfully enriched lives we would lead!
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