Sunday, July 17, 2016

Problem Solving

Every Wednesday morning, I participate in an online yoga meditation class led by my yoga mentor, Chase Bossart.  People log on from all over the place and, for a half-hour, Chase leads us through some movement, breathing and a visualization.  It isn't a huge commitment in time or money and I find it to be an interesting compliment to my usual meditation practice.  It provokes all kinds of questions and offers another way to see things.  I highly recommend it!

Every other week, he also hosts a longer class immediately afterwards where we talk about the classes and how they were constructed and we share our experiences (this class is geared to yoga teachers).  This is my favorite part because it is so interesting to learn how other people receive the instructions and how what seems so simple and straightforward actually is quite complex.

This past Wednesday, after some moving and breathing, Chase asked us to picture ourselves on the peak of a mountain with a clear view for miles and miles.  Then we did some more moving and breathing and he asked us to think about an issue that is unresolved in our life, something we have confusion about.  The thought that came to my mind was, "Should we really be using meditation to fix things?"  Personally, I would say no.  It seems quite important that meditation have no goal.  Let's face it, we often accept ourselves as so small.  We eagerly create little boxes and jump right in them!  Why would this be any different with our so-called solutions in meditation?  I feel quite strongly about this point.  In the second class, following the meditation, we had a really interesting conversation about this that was very helpful, especially as I consider ways of offering meditations to my own students and clients.

This morning, I was still reflecting on Wednesday's conversation but thinking about it in terms of art making.  Art that has an expressed goal to solve some problem suffers from the same limitations and for the same reasons - we generally aspire to so little when actually we have the whole universe at hand.  When I look at my publicly engaged projects, the ones that were most successful - some continue to spur dialogue - were the ones that were the most open-ended, where I proceeded without much of a clear idea of exactly where I was headed.  The ones (and I think mainly of one, in particular) that fell flat were the ones where I had an idea and I tried to force the situation to fit that idea.  Even when I framed it as a question, in my head, I already had the answer.

Those kinds of projects interest me less these days I think, in part, because I found my own limitations too confining.  I still love conversation and hearing people's stories.  I definitely still love getting people to try new things that put them back in touch with what it means to make things by hand, but those are not the driving forces behind my work now.  Or perhaps I should say that I am trying to make work that has that same kind of energy and contains all those possibilities without needing to overtly ask the questions out loud.  Problem solving without answers.  Or questions, either.

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