Sunday, April 19, 2009
Some of you may not of heard of Tonglen. I guess you could describe it as a cheering heart. It's a Buddhist meditation practice also known as "sending and receiving" that focuses on the breath and awakening compassion. Simply put, we breath in the suffering we see around us, and breath out our own peace, joy, well-being to those who are suffering. As a meditation practice we do this consciously, with vivid awareness. We all have a natural capacity for this cheering heart that stirs whenever we encounter pain and suffering. Given a chance, the inner alchemy of Tonglen practice can profoundly affect our lives.
Imagine applying Tonglen to your painting practice. How many dimensions could be affected? Are you one of those painters who is filled with fear and self criticism? With Tonglen we breath in fear and self criticism felt the world over by artists just like yourself. And then we exhale, sending joy, peace and confidence to them. We take in all of their suffering, and we send out all of the happiness we can imagine to the artists of the world. It may sound a bit cock-eyed. Trust the inner alchemy. See what happens when you sit down to paint.
These past two days have me dancing with excitement— Mrs. Mallard can walk again! She can stand on both legs without falling. There is new strength in her gait. And there's an inner renewal for me as well— to remember to exhale...