If something negative comes to the surface, such as your despair and anger, or the despair and anger of your spouse, you need the energy of mindfulness to embrace it.
Breathing in, I know that anger is there in me.
Breathing out, I care for my anger.
This is like a mother hearing her baby cry out. She is in the kitchen, and she hears her baby wailing. She puts down whatever she has in her hands, goes into the baby’s room, and picks it up in her arms. You can do exactly the same thing–embrace the pain that is coming to the surface.
Breathing in, I know that you are there, my dear anger, my dear despair.
I am there for you; I will take care of you.
―Thích Nhất Hạnh, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment
The idea of attention or contemplation, of looking carefully at something and holding it before the mind, may be conveyed early on in childhood. ‘Look, listen, isn’t that nice?’ Also, ‘Don’t touch!’ This is moral training as well as preparation for a pleasurable life. It need not depend on words, but can also be learnt from patterns of behaviour which should in any case back up the words. The far reaching idea of respect is included in such teaching. The, as it might seem, sophisticated concept of a work of art may be acquired easily. Children, if they are lucky, are invited to attend to pictures or objects, or listen quietly to music or stories or verses, and readily understand in what spirit they are to treat these apparently dissimilar things. They may also be encouraged to contemplate works of nature, which are unlike works of art, yet also like them in being “beautiful.”
―Iris Murdoch,Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals
Sometimes, people can go missing right before our very eyes. Sometimes, people discover you, even though they’ve been looking at you the entire time. Sometimes we lose sight of ourselves when we’re not paying attention.
―Cecelia Ahern, A Place Called Here
I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations, and my obligations to society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head, and I am not where my body is; I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?
―Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”
Light and Shade on the Wapiti Trail, Sugarite Canyon SP, Raton, New Mexico by Katherine McDaniel
Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.
When flipping a switch brings light and turning the tap brings water, nature becomes remote. How can art change this?
Tanya Clarke’s Liquid Light Series is an ongoing collection of unusual lighting fixtures fashioned from repurposed plumbing parts, glass hand-sculpted into the shape of water droplets, and low voltage LED lighting. Some are embellished with other repurposed touches, such as a piece of driftwood, a gauge, or extra hardware converted into small planters. You can see the full array of her creations on her website.
The daughter of prominent environmental activist Tony Clarke, Tanya grew up with a privileged awareness of the value and fragility of nature. She seeks to communicate this awareness not through public speaking, but by moving others through art that is both beautiful and functional. The style is quirky–industrial meets artistic with a deep streak of steampunk. Her pieces, which include wall, ceiling, floor and table lamps, have been hung in museums and private homes. Rest assured this kind of custom work costs a pretty penny, but a portion of each sale goes to water research and conservation.
Liquid Light combines design and sculpting with craft and construction skills. Our attention is drawn not only to the ingenious use of recycled hardware, but to nature which is so elegantly imitated. When ever the tap is turned and the light comes on, one remembers the precious gift of water, so scarce today in the state of California where Tanya makes her home.
Mindfulness is never wasted, especially when it involves something so delightful to the eye.