Afters years of helping others with their projects and visions and subsequently making a choice to step back and get my projects off the ground, I find myself in the position of reconnecting with my right brain. It’s been quite an interesting process as my poems, sketches and writing simply flow. There’s little thought. The lines are drawn and the words have appeared on the page without any focus or effort.
I’d been invited to a shodo class a couple of months ago, however with quite a bit going on, had been unable to attend. Finally, I managed to make my way to the other side of Melbourne and partake in my first lesson, learning the principles, technique and style of Japanese calligraphy.
Being mindful is an important part of the shodo process, with each stroke being drawn whilst focussing on the rhythm of the breath. The characters need to be done in correct order, direction and alignment and you’ll quickly learn that if you’re thinking about the football results or big to do list waiting for you at home, you’ll easily lose the flow of order, an important component of the shodo process.
Given there was currently a super moon in the sky and I’d brought a beautiful meditative shakuhachi flute CD to play in the background called Moon, it was quite apt the character we were learning was moon. Four simple strokes. Learning to combine stroke, direction, technique, breath and focus… not so simple. By the end of the class, I was hooked, and headed off to nearby Fuji Mart and Eckersley’s art store to purchase everything I needed to practise at home.
I understand only too well how mood can effect output and that night, I decided to do an experiment. To see if this translated to the artist’s brush, before doing each picture, I imagined a different aspect of my life. The fear of a hospital visit next week, love for someone, the excitement of a publisher’s email, a recent assault incident and overcoming five months of tough pain… I sat mindfully on each period for a short while, took a deep breath in and 10 seconds later had the end result.
Although each completed piece represents the same word, it also represents a piece of my life over the past few months and the difference in stroke is certainly evident. I didn’t aim to write an angry, strong or softer image. It was the thought I evoked that allowed the image to flow.
This little experiment highlighted not only the process of producing a piece of art, but the beauty of shodo is that it captures a moment in time, including the thoughts and emotions you hold with you in that very moment.
As I write, I think this not only occurs on paper, but in so many other aspects of life. Learning to be mindful that our emotions can and do impact output can certainly assist in our relationships with others and self.
Before I had that last conversation that didn’t end so well, I should have been thinking about my weekend as a bubbleologist and not being thrown against a wall, hospital and an impending court hearing. The end result would definitely have been so different. And yet, like a shodo stroke, that moment in time can produce something quite different.
It’s timely this week’s Mindful in May focus is on the breath, also an important component of shodo. After each meditation I plan to produce a new image of moon. Let’s see what comes up and what moments I can capture with the combination of breath and stroke.
I offer a special thank you to Colin and Kazue Lim for introducing me to the beauty and internal inspiration of shodo. To Dani for sharing her positive energy, calmness and expression in the space. And to the beautiful Kim Wood of Metta Scents for providing such a special place in which to learn and create. I’m certain the sensory overload from the finest incense and oils from across the globe certainly added to the serenity and calming effect of the meditative shodo process.
Like the brush into ink, now that I’m more mindful of breath and thought in the production process, let’s see what I can produce in my life. Guaranteed no two days will be the same.
Time for a dip into flow… on and off the paper.