Through the practice of contemplative arts we learn to arrive at the moment. Not only the pure meditation is a possibility to get to know one’s own thought patterns, to calm down or to direct. Creative tools and handicraft techniques are also a way to fine attention. Sink into yourself, enter into what you are doing at the moment. To be present with body, soul and spirit. We know and experience this without giving it the title meditation or contemplation. Intensity, forgetfulness, flow. You forget time and space while painting, singing or making music with your band. With physical movement you are completely connected to yourself and nature. Children who play and adults who write a poem or maintain their garden in daily routine know this. But I also notice in the garden how the mood, the worries, the tension of everyday life colour my way of working and how it is not contemplative or immersed at all. Then I bring in achievement thinking and intend to do this today and master another task tomorrow. I divide flowers and vegetable beds into to do’s and need quite a while until I notice that. The best solution is to laugh at myself, but I don’t always succeed. Another day everything just feels immalleable. From experience I know that this can dissolve and the thoughts can sink down into the movement. The immersion in my activity is an individual learning field and I encounter my obstacles, do learn not to focus them and thus open up an access to presence for me. To be completely with what I am doing: sometimes relaxed, often restless, resistant, flickering or tired. All colours are possible. Traditionally, the different schools have taught contemplation in very different disciplines. Archery, calligraphy, Ikebana or the attentive ceremonial hospitality of a guest in the tea ceremony. Common to all, one can say, is the repetition at the beginning of simple exercise sequences and the silent self-observation in them. Will I be able to connect to the present moment? Do I digress? Depending on how we spend our everyday lives, our brain is trained to concentrate or to distract itself.
Ariadne von Schirarch says that we are “distracted from ourselves in a historically new way”. The actual exercise is to return again and again to the activity, to the feeling, to the sensory experience. We practice to keep our attention directed and not to strain ourselves in doing so. So the arrow flies in full alignment, the calligraphy succeeds in beautiful momentum, the flower arrangement harmoniously accentuates the character of the plants and in photography the directness of perception is powerfully and elegantly depicted. Practice is rewarded with success, things fall as they should.