Facing the Empty Space: Practicing Mindfulness Through Art
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
Since last fall, I’ve been participating in a practice called authentic movement. It’s a movement-based mindfulness practice and active imagination process. I’ve been inspired by all of the parallels between the movement practice, and my art practice, and I wanted to share with you about one of them today.
Just so you understand, I’ll give you the basic layout. We practice in a light-filled renovated barn – a big open space. There is a facilitator who is the witness, and there are movers. Each of the participants moves with her eyes closed for about 45 minutes. The idea is to tune into what your body wants to do, and to follow the impulse as closely as you can. So if your hand wants to make a fist, you do that. If your feet enjoy sliding on the wood floors, do that. (I do that often.) But it’s not a planned movement or a performance of any kind. It’s about being mindfully, non-judgmentally present to your body and what it wants and needs in the moment.
When the movement is over, the witness reflects back something she saw and what it made her feel and experience. Her job is to help you feel that you were non-judgmentally seen, not interpreted. It’s a very beautiful practice, and I find it more accessible than regular meditation practice. There’s something really powerful about being seen non-judgmentally, both by yourself and by another.
Before we begin, we stand at the periphery of the room and make eye contact to honor each other, and then we do something interesting – we look at the open space to honor it too. We do this again at the end. At first I wasn’t quite sure what this meant, but recently, my teacher offered a little nugget of wisdom that really struck me. She said:
“In the beginning, there is nothing. In the end, there is nothing.”
It’s the same with art. In the beginning, there is nothing, and in the end, there is nothing once again. You begin a piece in the empty space, fill it with your marks, complete it, put it away, and return to the emptiness. We face the possibility, the curiosity, and the anxiety of not knowing.
So much of what scares us about art practice stems from facing this empty space. So much of what excites us about the art process stems from the emptiness too. What helps me to face the possibilities and the anxieties is knowing that I am not alone. I face the unknown in community.
Fluid Art Workshop:
We’ve been talking a lot in my Diving Deep class about how important community is in building our courage as artists. I want to help you build your art courage too. I’m inviting you to a free workshop tomorrow, Thursday, June 21st at 12pm EST. There’s still time to register, and you’ll get an amazing PDF with all the goodies from the workshop. There’ll be a 48-hour replay as well. I’m thrilled to tell you that I’ll be announcing an AMAZING freebie at the end, so stick around for that. Click here to register now.