Monday, 29 September 2014

Art, Healing and Sacred Spaces

"Moments of stillness". 

"Rich, round spaces of timelessness". 

"A gentle aliveness and joy, so full and complete nothing more need be added".  

"An infinitely expanded present".

These are some of the words used by healers, artists, therapists, clients, art lovers, music lovers, Meditators and mindfulness practitioners' to describe the universal experience of 'just being'.

And one more....

"These states for me  shift my attention to my underlying unchanging presence/awareness/spirit instead of being caught up in identification with a separate self with many misguided beliefs and stories about oneself. Coming back to recognize ones essential being creates a space in which beliefs,thoughts,feelings etc are seen as they are...they seem to fall away and lose the power of identification when you relax into the trance or presence of your own essential self"  ( Priyesh.R.K - Sound Healer and Counsellor)

I am so truly grateful for meditation being introduced to me at such an early age - it has been a part of my life for nearly 30 years.  And no, I haven't done it every day. I have had lengthy patches of experimenting with a life without it but it always reappears in some form or another. I get lost, bored or afraid and just like returning home, I know I must sit because there is nowhere else to go. Sometimes the mind is busy and sometimes I have blissfully lost myself in being. 

About 3 years ago I  became a meditation teacher and then decided to branch out a little further into Bowen Therapy and Holistic Healing and Spiritual Counseling.  All methods of healing that I felt honoured silence and stillness. During this time I've reluctantly had to put the paint brush down for a while but it became very clear to me that the most effective therapies, healing and counseling sessions felt just like painting. Just like being in 'the zone'.  That familiar place that many artists slip into, where time loses meaning and mind loses concept of self.

The zone is a big place. Sometimes we just peer into it, sometimes we dip our toes in and sometimes we are lucky enough to just jump right in and disappear. Those inspirational beings that devote their lives to such practices use beautiful names for blissful experiences that  sometimes spontaneously flower from such stillness, names such as Nimmittas and Jhanas.  But, these experiences are never looked for  they are only found. Just a beautiful byproducts of releasing any attachment to life or any expectation of a result. There may be an initial intent but the key is in the letting go.

These moments must arrive unexpectedly. The unavoidable requirement for their arrival is lack of expectation itself, a complete letting go. This place, this experience, is by its nature beyond word-full descriptions, beyond the artists brush, beyond the poets pen, beyond the healers sanctuary and beyond the sanctity of sacred spaces. Nevertheless I believe it is within the realm of these to inspire recognition of that state of being - to act as a trigger for a spontaneous experience of unity. A loss of self that allows us to feel whole. Experiencing stillness puts us back in touch with wisdom and sources of healing. I feel it is the core ingredient in any healing session, any painting session and in sacred spaces. If we are to be the best we can possibly be in any given situation it is our humble purpose to get out of the way and allow life to happen. Of course that's where it can get tricky! We are human, we form attachments – emotions and expectations follow. It is not always easy to remain peaceful in our societies where our values and behaviours have been built upon histories worth of human struggles to find security and happiness in pursuits that are akin to chasing a desert mirage.  

Compassion in its most beautiful and wise form humbly comforts the human whilst guiding the soul.

Healers, Therapists and Artists, like Architects and Engineers, build bridges and offer maps, provide safe places and tool kits to comfort and guide. Not all tools and maps are right for all people, there is no one size fits all. Sometimes it may even require a tailor made approach, just as the Zen master gives just the right koan at just the right moment to his student so that he can abandon logic and make the leap into 'no mind' into 'just being'.  

'What was your original face like before you were born?' 

To practice our skills and crafts with as much 'being' as possible, to produce our art and practice our therapies from real stillness is in itself a medicine for ourselves and others. A humble method of being where we cannot lose sight of the remembrance that what we are doing is providing safe passage and that the final destination is not anyone's to give or receive as it already exists within all things.

This 'being-ness' is the birthright of all living things not just healers and artists. It can be found by anyone at any time during any activity, but just for this small while I would like to take you on a little tour to explore the nature of the connection between the beautiful worlds of art, healing and sacred spaces. To see that the intention of creating sacred spaces combined with artistic skill and absence of self brings with it a special kind of beauty. A beauty that has a deep resonance with stillness and peace and is able to inspire us to recognize that same beauty in that which we normally perceive as ordinary.  

Here is collection of images of sacred places and healers words about sacred spaces.

Photo by Marjana Zefran of Nasir al Molk Mosque, Iran

"A clear beautiful space greatly assists the process - when one is in a tranquil atmosphere which has a dedicated intent it is much easier to meditate effectively.  It is possible to meditate anywhere but there are sometimes more distractions/ obstacles to overcome." ( RK Sound healer, therapist, musician )
Amritsar India

"Sacred space seems to have a energy current which pulls ones attention back into oneself.. i have been visiting many sacred spaces on this trip in india..i feel the presence and energy of those places shift me into recognising the space within myself..." ( P.K Sound Healer)

Komyozenji Temple, Dazaifu

"Peaceful and tranquil to look at but I have to admit if I were there I would want to take my shoes off and walk in it - hmm , so It may not have inspired inactivity but it inspired spontaneity and is that not stillness in action? "

Faith, Hope and Charity by Edward Burne Jones

"...the peaceful cool hush within a church. Somehow the resonant muffled sounds drifting around big cathedral spaces calm our minds and awaken our senses. Colours appear brighter."

Edward Burnes Jones - An Angel Playing a Flageolet

“Form is never valued for its own sake, but only so far as it serves to provide experience of religious or metaphysical truth. What is sought in form is an indwelling presence, the “soul” imprisoned in the material.”– Madhu Khanna, in YANTRA

Russian Orthodox community in Alaska

".......creative, reflective, connected, supported, nourished, loved, empowering."

"I find that art adds new dimensions to any room/space, and really guides me to feeling this amazing sense of unity and eternity, as if time didn't exist. I believe that art can take you on a journey and that it can amplify the energy of a sacred space, as well as build one from scratch" (Jessica Seletti Artist and counsellor)

Garima Gospels

St Stephens Orthodox Church

Such skill and beauty dedicated to enhancing feelings of peace and unity. The aims of both artist and healer alike. We are now entering a new era where our spiritual evolution is requesting spiritual spaces and practices outside and beyond that of traditional religious places. It is not that they no longer speak to us, we only have to look at the pictures above to see that they do but there is a space opening up, a merging of art forms. Who can say what will emerge but if it is conceived with an intention of inspiring peace and is created from stillness, it will, as it has done before serve as a humble signpost to that which humans seek daily, find rarely and have no words for.
Steven Daluz

Healing and spiritual spaces vary enormously as can be seen. Unique in their own mix of colour, space, light and geometry. Affecting individuals differently according to our culture and sensitivities.
Paintings and spaces whether humbly honouring this earthly existence or lavishly attempting to manifest and unite  heavenly places with this earthly realm are ultimately intended to bring peace. Whether the imagery or spaces are viewed as metaphorical or real, to me, it doesn’t matter. What matters is peace of mind and the resulting sense of wellbeing and open-hearted compassion that follows. 
We have all had beautiful experiences that though they may have been initiated outside of ourselves caused a recognition of beauty and harmony within. The virtue of such inner harmony is the ability to see beauty in all manner of forms and actions that hitherto may not have been recognized or even judged as un-beautiful. The sparkle in an old womans eye as she watches children gently bicker over a ball. An old curled and half eaten leaf falling into a cup of coffee. The smell of dust when the heating is first turned on in winter… just so.

From this harmonious space of inner beauty and non-judgement the healer and artist is able to kindle/ ignite through recognition the same flame in others. And so the healer and the artist and the space entwine together to serve as one.

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