|Couple at the Border|
As we move out of the global model and into the emerging cosmological model, it is clear that we are unquestionably living in a learning Universe. It is a Universe which has no concern for how long it takes and is not afraid of making mistakes. Experimentation towards refinement and better solutions is the leading edge. The more we live into this evolving story the more we are invited to engage the mind in new ways so that we can make new responses. I have found in facilitating creative process that ENGAGEMENT is the key for developing new pathways of the mind, and at the same time disengagement from patterns of mental response that keep us in the same loop is also essential. Like so many of the most important adventures of our lifetime engagement has a wide spectrum of meaning from assuming an obligation for union, as in marriage, as well as, to bring into conflict, as engage in battle.
The model of the Universe is outside of our developed common sense and even intuition. We are called to embrace dichotomy including the seeming contradiction, as any astrophysicist will tell you. Frequently the creative process is also an engagement in conflict with promise of unique integration, sometimes in the picture plane and sometimes in the psyche. Even though we are not making products and do not use qualitative comments, painting circle participants want some measure of success. The only benchmark that I can give them is engagement. To begin, if you are engaged, you are successful. Engagement here is being involved, when the process holds your attention or you are drawn into the process, even though the activity or results may not be pleasing or comfortable. Yet if you are engaged, through the process you will be led to new discoveries and integration. This kind of creative involvement is practice for broader engagements that are being required of us in this age.
To begin to use our minds in new ways, first we need to look at how we are being used by the mind. The mind, because it’s major function has been for our physical survival, is concerned with immediate safety and comfort and is fear-based. With the overall planetary sustainability in question at this time, we need a more expansive and integrative consciousness with deeper connections inside and outside the model of our place in the Universe. Most of us are controlled by the mind’s program of bringing up past trauma, projecting them into the future and usually repeat it over and over in a constant chatter. Quieting the mind is required for engagement in creative process and the various other intelligences, like emotional or ethical intelligence, that are often eschewed in trauma or other forced specializations.
The mind as it has developed is constantly scanning in a relentless mental focus obscuring all other possibilities. There are many models of men and women who have used their minds beyond their cultural bias, Leonardo da Vinci in particular embodied the seeming polarity of art and science. The Seven Steps to Genius from Michael Gelb’s book, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, is a way to focus the mind differently from our everyday thinking. Da Vinci was a master at whole-brain thinking, arte/scienza, engaging the combination of left and right brain thinking in a complimentary way. He also used connessione, or system thinking, which on a public scale we are just getting around to. The recent science of ecology and family dynamics psychology has showed how long we have enjoyed the tidy compartmentalizing of the pieces. Both of these principles are essential in the creative process.
In the painting circles it takes practice to view the whole composition without judgment, noticing how the smallest mark changes the overall dynamic, trusting the broader intelligence to respond without goals of instant gratification. It is obvious how our cultural training is imbalanced in the direction of analytical and rational framework in which the critical voice has free range, which is not supportive to the early phases of creative process. It takes careful nurturance of the intuitive, whole systems and experimental thinking to exercise creativity. Although both kinds of thinking are necessary and prove effective when considered in group dialogue, most of us are polarized in our perceptions and our skill sets.
|Dream of Lama|
The emerging cosmological mythology demands art and science come together which brings us to the da Vincian principle of Sfumato, smoke or mist, which engages the uncertainty, paradox and ambiguity of life. Just as we have to embrace so much mystery in the scientific model of the Universe, so we engage that mystery in the creative process. You cannot be sure what will arise out of a poem or painting because in the whole brain model you do not control it. If you engage Sfumato, the truth finds its way and it is often a surprise. To engage the process in a way that is open ended also reflects the evolutionary process of the Universe and supports pure science where the directive is curiotsty, the next da Vincian principle. Curiositá, is a strong impetus in creative process. What happens if I put oil stick over acrylics or let the paint half dry and wipe it off? Poets and philosophers have encouraged us to love the questions. Once again our enculturation determines the questions we habitually ask. Engaging the mind in a new way would be to initiate a new kind of inquiry, which artist are constantly working with by opening to the journey through unchartered land.
I will end with the most obvious engagement and that is sensazione, the senses, the way of using the intelligence of the whole person with corporaita, embodiment into an expansive and integrative consciousness. Awareness of the senses as a meditative approach to mindfulness calls forth engagement through presence. The last definition of engagement is to be drawn into and to interlock. The mindfulness meditation training focuses on the sensations, which again engages the mind in ways to brings you to the core of your being, but again it is so alien from our cultural values that there are workshops to introduce and practice it. Science has shown how unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can undermine emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Mindfulness, using the senses to be present in the moment, has been demonstrated to relieve stress and pain. Even though we are familiar with all of these principles, to engage them continually as a function of the mind can have far reaching results on how to perceive and interact with the world differently.