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August 12, 2020

Dear Artists: How Meditation can Help us Find Light in our Dark.

 

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“In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” ~ Andy Warhol

~

It fascinates me when I read about the lives of artists.

Many get to see the artworks which may have sprung to the limelight, which have gotten acknowledgment.

What fascinates me, though, is the mindset of the creator.

They seem to have experienced life and society with the eyes of a child. A rare innocence pervades the minds of these beautiful people.

And the struggles appear to be them trying to blend into the complexities of the society—almost always either crying out for a sense of freedom or becoming a recluse and resorting to what they did best—producing artwork.

Eccentric, reclusive, introverted, crazy, weird—do these adjectives appear familiar to you?

They do to me.

And when I read their statements of their own times, on rare occasions, I find them intense yet simple. Their simplicity is something we could not understand. Yet day after day, they had to compromise themselves and seek the acknowledgment from those who would view their work.

Producing art or expressing yourself and earning money doing that—is tough. Primarily because your work is always being appraised and categorized. Secondly, one may appreciate the work but not be willing to pay the price. And the artist has put a “value” which she feels is a reasonable amount for the work.

They often get caught between being commercial and being a producer of great work. It is always a strange and ongoing dilemma. And in times of rejection, they often pick up their brushes and paint some more.

By default, they have to be patient. With patience comes a struggle and in that intense struggle, a person produces depth in his or her work. I may be describing an artist, but it could just as well be anyone who is set to add value to the community in an unconventional manner.

The mind often lives the duality—in rejection and in the longing for some appreciation. In denial lies the defiance.

“Don’t pay attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” ~ Andy Warhol

What I write now, some of you may be able to relate to. I write this from my own journal, as I am having to experience and explore the duality. It is still a work in process.

So, for me and for anyone who’s facing the dilemma of duality, here are a few things which I have realized. The list is not complete, and I am still filling the gaps:

1. Know yourself:

A regular practice of meditation allows the awareness to catch the triggers in our mental actions. When we watch them over and over again, the feelings demonstrate the property of shape-shifter and “impermanence.” 

That in itself is comforting, as one experiences the dissolution and this gives them space to explore the next feeling. The habit patterns in our minds—and the way the mind and matter interact—often rob us of the present moment. Getting the breath to this moment gives us an element of freedom.

2. Be patient:

First with oneself. Patient with the work that we are doing every day.

Some days will be super productive and some days will be guided by discipline. But sticking with a routine of continuously doing what is meaningful, without craving for an acknowledgment or the number of likes (recognition), is critical to being centered and focused. 

The repeated reminder of life being about the journey and not only the destination comes in handy—especially, when we are feeling a little out of depth.

3. Get the balance within our heart and mind:

The duality of our authentic self and the society-at-large (whom we serve or at least aspire to serve) often will be met with mismatched expectations. Knowing, expecting, and accepting that mismatch keeps us centered and focused on continuing with the good work.

“An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have” ~ Andy Warhol

And yet, we ought to serve something that people consume so that we can survive. So one needs to be prepared to walk on that tight rope of balance, at all times, mentally and physically.

4. Be content with today’s work:

Whether we got a lot of things done, or only a little, know that we were enough for today. Reflect, plan, and repurpose for tomorrow. The motto of “one day at a time” often pulls me out of today’s disappointments and puts me in a place of tomorrow’s hope and purpose.

It is not easy. And again, that’s why having a regular practice of meditation helps me to get to the present moment, over and over again. Whether with one person or a group, when I teach meditation, I try to focus on that individual and give my best at that moment. And not surprisingly, after every session of co-meditation, I feel energized and revitalized.

5. Meditate—every day:

If you’re happy, sit on the cushion; if you are sad, sit on the cushion.

It is not a practice to seek relaxation, it is a practice to make yourself available to you—with loving-kindness.

It is a practice to hold yourself—and your experience—with clarity and objectivity and without a shred of judgment or an intention to help. It is just observation of what is happening within that little head of ours, and how it is manifesting in our physical bodies. Learning this skill is critical to sailing through the journey of life.

“People need to be made more aware of the need to work at learning how to live because life is so quick and sometimes it goes away too quickly.” ~ Andy Warhol

And a few lines from a classic loving-kindness meditation:

May we all be happy

May we all be healthy

May we be free of physical sufferings

May we be free of mental sufferings

May we live this life, with joy, contentment, and kindness.

~

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