Monday, April 20, 2015

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Planning The Trip 12"x12" mixed media
"Let go of your attachment to the object you desire and make your desire the experience of staying focused on working toward your goal.” -Thomas Sterner  from "The Practicing Mind"
It's good advice for our art practice but really it applies to pretty much anything we might want to do. 

Or more simply we might just work, just doing what needs or wants to be done.  There is a freedom in that and who doesn't want to be free?  And what is it we want to be free from, anyway? Freedom from our stories, our complaints, our thinking mind that never seems to stop and is so hard to please? I've been reading a great book called "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer.  In lovely plain language he reminds us that we are not our thinking mind but the consciousness that can observe our thoughts. Just stepping back from our thoughts offers us a lot of space. We can even feel amused by the crazy non stop narrative that runs through our heads.

Field Notes 11"x14" Mixed Media
I have been a lazy blogger (does that sound a bit like something someone might call you in an English pub?).  And it seems the less I blog, the less I have to say.  I think that's true in the world too. The quieter we get the more we realize that not so much needs to be said, which brings me back to the mind and it's job in the world, which is to think.  In Buddhist terms, the mind is just another sense organ, like our eyes and ears and nose.  The object of the mind is thought.  The nose smells, the mind thinks. Pretty basic, really but we take our minds so seriously, more seriously than our nose, (unless of course something like freshly baked cookies are involved). We can build a whole story on a random thought, let it ruin our day, make us angry or depressed. 

Before Sunset 12"x12" mixed media
And if you find your mind disturbing you with problems, Michael Singer offers an interesting suggestion: "Don't ask, "what should I do about it? Ask, "what part of me is being disturbed by this? If you ask, "what should I do about it?, you've already fallen into believing that there really is a problem outside that must be dealt with. If you want to achieve peace in the face of your problems, you must understand why you perceive a particular situation as a problem."

And there you have it, a way to relate to the conjuring, magician like mind that is always inventing and manufacturing our reality. Perhaps more often these days, we can just immerse ourselves the greeness of this wonderful season, smell the rich scent of the earth and hear the birds readying their nests. Maybe we can step back from the stories we might tell ourselves about everything and everyone we meet.  Maybe, just maybe we can live in the freshness of having a direct relationship with our world instead of having it explained to us by our minds.