Painting, Mindfulness & Meditation
About 12 years ago in the depths of unexplained Infertility, I attended a 10-day silent Vipassana Meditation retreat in Woori Yallock in Victoria.
10 days of no distractions. 10 days of complete silence – no talking allowed. 10 days of no phone, books, drawing or music. No eye contact with other participants. 10 days with just myself and my own thoughts. Meditating from very early in the morning through to the evening, learning the Vipassana technique to observe and acknowledge the feelings that came up and let them out through the breath.
When I tell people about this experience they are in awe – “How did you do it? There is no way I could do that!” “Sounds like torture!” they all say.
It was an incredible experience of personal growth. I’m an introvert by nature so don’t mind my own company, but this was next level! I enjoy socialising but can find it very draining. I recharge at home, on my own. Maybe an extrovert would go crazy on a course like this and it's possible they were the people that left a few days in!
Of course, I had all good intentions to meditate every day back in the real world, but it didn’t really happen. Life got in the way, we moved states, started new jobs and then finally fell pregnant and I had a family to prioritise.
The closest thing I get to meditation now is my panting. My recent exploration of my “Lines of Time” series of works that have formed my "Home" collection, certainly gets me into a meditative, mindful state.
These paintings involve very little pre-planning and thinking, other than picking a few colours to start with. I am guided by the brush, its movement, its marks. Being present in the moment.
Taking the planning away creates a very relaxed state in my painting practice. I become absorbed in the moment, tranced almost. Time dissipates and before I know it, 2 hours have passed but it felt like 5 minutes.
My mind is quiet and I’m creating intuitively, without judgement.
I’m using the paint and the colour to go deep into myself. What results is a flow, a movement, lines in time and the marks I have created on the canvas.
I can walk into the studio in the evening tired and with a headache after a busy, draining day - not really in the "mood" for painting. When I step back out an hour or so later, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
That’s my meditation now, and it makes me feel alive.