Maybe you wonder who is this little line in the picture that I called the baby with the orange light? He represents, for me, awareness, which is always newly born. Right now it is looking at the rest of the painting in a previous blog, where there is some struggle. But he is from endlessness, which is free from the difficulties.
Just the fact that he looks heals what he is looking at, because he looks in a way that only awareness can. He lives inside of every one of us. But we need to bring his view to our normal consciousness, so that it too will heal.
Why drawing and painting are good ways to dip in our larger aspect, which is usually called awareness?
Other art forms are also good for this. But drawing and painting leave marks on paper or other materials that we can look at after they have been done.
This gives us the opportunity to understand (by reading the art) with our narrow style of consciousness, what our aware state has already known.
Let’s look at why we are not in the deeper state all the time.
Our consciousness is made in such a way that we are very focused. We think only one thought at a time. We concentrate on only one thing at a time. For us this is the way things are, and we do not even consider a different way of experiencing.
We never see a wider picture of our experiences (unless we shift into awareness, which we actually do, spontaneously, many times).
While we live with this narrow way of observing, there is something that keeps making the choices for us about what we are going to concentrate on.
It is what we call the subconscious.
Based on our experiences of the past we have taught the subconscious what is important to us. Now it brings to our attention only those parts of the whole picture that it knows are important to us.
Of course it is a wonderful thing, not to have to examine our experiences whenever they emerge, and decide again what, among all of them, is important. On the other hand, because this is how the human mechanism works, we are prevented from experiencing a wider version of our experiences.
What is so good about the wider version?
When we observe with a wider, more inclusive perspective, we become relieved from the worries of the narrower view.
The subconscious still gives us its usual alarms that were created with the narrow view. But since we are in a more comfortable place, we don’t care about these alarms that much.
This is just one benefit. Observing with the wider view is so different from observing with the narrow view that it is really impossible to explain it while using the narrow view.
We can only talk about one aspect at a time. But awareness is a multi aspects thing.
So I’ll point at a few characteristics of awareness, but remember: It really does not do justice to it.
The wider view is the only way we can experience beauty. Beauty has to do with a complex relationship of many parts. We all can experience beauty in our unique ways. It is different for each one. But we all can experience what is beauty to us.
So it means that we all are making use of our awareness.
When we are in nature, for example, which is so filled with details and multiple kinds of relationships, the subconscious does not, usually, have any special instructions about the view.
It may have some warnings about snakes, crocodiles, bears, tick-bites, etc. But just looking, when there is no immediate specific danger, does not, usually, come with instructions.
This allows us to slip into the deeper, wider, relaxed view. We see beauty. We feel good. We become activated in a much fuller, more rewarding way.
So being in awareness feels good. Holding a narrow awareness is stressful in comparison.
When we feel good, instead of being weary of others, we love them spontaneously.
Instead of feeling pressed to fix this or that, we feel like playing. We feel like children. We laugh easily, we imagine whatever we want and we can even feel being taken care of.
All these are healing states.
So now imagine making art by following your individual sense of beauty as your only guide in the art making.
As soon as we give our attention to our sense of beauty, to watch whether what we make is beautiful for us or not, we slip into the state of awareness. There is no escape for us from using a wider attention, to perceive beauty.
This is (awareness is) the fundamental condition that is the only one that can heal our emotional and even physical suffering. There is no way to heal us without entering awareness.
So this is the instruction: Make art just by choosing, step after step, to do only what makes your art more beautiful to you. Stop when you feel that adding anything to your art will not feel beautiful any more.
Be loyal to this and see how it makes you feel.
This is an easy access to what all the meditation teachers call awareness.
I’ll end here with something that my Chinese meditation teacher said once (not precisely in these words): Keep being aware and awareness will keep you.
If you want to have one practice that is simple and will make you freer and freer, this is it. Develop the habit of awareness (in whichever way you choose to reach that state).
I used to be a graphic designer and an illustrator. I became involved with the Chan Meditation Center and studied meditation and Buddhist knowledge with the late Master Sheng-yen from Taiwan. For twelve years I was in a process of deepening my meditation. I had many more experiences and insights and my life changed. After having illustrated more than 40 children’s books and writing two of them, I left this career too and went to New York University to study art therapy.