December 12, 2013

Creating Sacred Space: The 8 Offerings of Hermits.


Some days, I don’t leave my house.

And I actually love it when I am able to do that. I’ve made a nook in my house, and it has become a sacred space for me.

I spend many days, particularly in the winter, secluded in my cranny so I can paint, think, write, and just be in a space that is all my own. All the things that sit on my desk are sacred to me. The colors that surround my creative space are the colors I grew up with. Colors are important to me. I like to think that I could make anything I want with a paintbrush, some paper and some paint.

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.”

~ Pablo Picasso

So what exactly is in my nook?

Well, there are hundreds of tubes of watercolor, oil, and acrylic paints. There is a biography of Georgia O’ Keeffe and a book by M. Scott Momaday—two people I have come to know through study, and through my own delusional reality, I think that I have become friends with them.

There are two candles that are almost burnt down to the bottom and a lamp that emits a beautiful sienna-like glow. There’s a cup of coffee and a small jar of jelly beans. There is a gin bottle full of yellow flowers. There’s a bottle of turpentine and a bottle of linseed oil.

There are some small pumpkins and sweetgrass leaning against my lamp in the corner. There are two basketfuls of papers and mail. There’s a buckskin pouch and a scarf hanging from the window. There are beads (my favorite colors) hanging from nails on the windowsill.

There’s a cow jaw I found outside hanging on the wall and a barn door that I am painting leaning against the window…next to my blue acoustic guitar. You can often hear Brandi Carlile and Gillian Welch playing from my computer.

I guess I’ve created an altar or a shrine—by accident.

In Buddhism, the eight offerings are drinking water, bathing water, flowers, incense, light, perfume, food and music.

I have all of those sitting in my nook. Why?

The purpose of making offerings is to generate positivity and selflessness. It is to create good karma, happy space and an attitude of happiness. You offer only what you can. It doesn’t matter how much you give in an offering. It just matters that you tried to think of something other than yourself for awhile.

So, in my workspace, I offer what I can to my creative space. After all, everything that I create comes from a soul and an energy other than my own. While my talent, hard work, and creativity allows me to paint the things I paint and write the things I write, it is a blessing to be able to do those things.

The inspiration is a blessing from a source outside of my realm of ideas and control.

“Whether our action is wholesome or unwholesome depends on whether that action or deed arises from a disciplined or undisciplined state of mind. It is felt that a disciplined mind leads to happiness and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering, and in fact it is said that bringing about discipline within one’s mind is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching.”

Dalai Lama XIV 

I have my own practice, and it’s one that I’ve been working on my whole life.

Painting and creating things in the silence of my own hermitage is the way I cultivate positivity and mental discipline in my own life. I’m not a hermit because I am anti-social or lacking friends. I am not reclusive because I hate being active or exploring the town. I am a hermit because I enjoy being insular and I think that there are miles of uncharted territory within my own brain… particularly the right side of it.

There are journeys to be had without even leaving my nook.

I like to think that I am unfolding my own myth with every brushstroke.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Courtesy of Author

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