Here is a reflection on another way to experience mindfulness in daily life
At the final class of the 8-week MBSR course, participants are invited to offer something in celebration of the end of the MBSR journey. There is always poetry read and recited—perhaps the time-honored wisdom of Rumi, the Zen succinctness of Basho, or contemporary poets—Derek Walcott, Mary Oliver (of course), Leonard Cohen, Maya Angelou, and more. Sometimes participants offer music—selections that they have composed, or selections that express their experience of the course. On several occasions participants have danced as an expression of what has occurred for them, and within them, during the previous 8 weeks.
In addition to the art of poetry, there is the art of languaging a message that ‘we missed you in class this week,’ or finding the words that go to the heart of the matter that is in the room and not quite being spoken, or recalling a text that shifts us into an ‘aha’ moment. The arts can be a vehicle for expressing what we touch when we practice mindfulness. In the flow states when art is happening, there is only the present moment—“radical mindfulness,” one of my students said.
Examples of mindfulness are found in the visual arts too: glorious stained glass windows, the Western mystical paintings of Nicolas Roerich, and East Asian landscape scrolls with the hermit almost hidden in one corner. These images inspire introspection and reflection.
The art of music offers us long traditions of Western sacred music and choral song, of contemplative shakuhachi flute, of drums that call the loas, or music written for meditation. The art of playing music, like all the arts, requires concentration, absorption in the doing, and certainly paying attention on purpose and in a certain way.
I wish I were more familiar with cultures and traditions where “the Arts” are not set apart from daily life, where beauty and order are seen in the natural world, woven into a carpet, or performed to welcome a season or acknowledge a deity. There are so many threads to this tapestry of art in daily life. Where to begin?
Weaving art into life, dance has become a way to express non-duality. Along with singing, dancing occupies the body as the landscape. I love the mystery of immediate bodymind communication that can be experienced through many forms of dance. Right now several of my dancer friends and I are observing the discipline of the “One-Minute Dance” that was inspired by the teaching of Barbara Mettler. Wherever we are, for one minute during a 24-hour day, we dance for 1 minute.
I invite you to join us in embodying your life.
Take your next few steps as a dance, listen to the next sounds as melody or rhythm, notice the shape, texture, color of the world around you.