Updated: Oct 19
In CCCS's first blog, we introduced you to a definition of contemplation and the Buddhist-based framework used for practice.
Now let's explore why we need to train the embodied mind. When we are children, our education starts with our family and primary school. Our western society emphasizes the importance of attending school to learn the basics of writing and reading, mathematics, geography, and history to understand and function in society. However, most of us have never learned how to cultivate our essential qualities of mind, such as: how to calm our thoughts and emotions, how to deal with transitions and changes in the embodied mind, and how to be with others, communicate our needs and wants with respect of others.
Dandapani explained in his presentation with TEDxReno Unwavering Focus* (Jan. 16, 2016) as children; we are constantly asked to pay attention and concentrate. Still, no one taught us formally how to pay attention and develop concentration. Even though those are qualities that we all have, they stay dormant as seeds in our system if they are not trained and cultivated; there are chances that we will not master this capacity naturally.
In CCCS, we use formal meditation and contemplative creative practices to develop and strengthen the qualities of attention and concentration. These qualities are essential to bring stabilization and calm to the embodied mind. What are contemplative creative practices? Contemplative creative practices are forms of meditation that are a continuum of mindfulness, compassion and awareness meditation practices informed by Buddhist methods of inquiry such as contemplation, deconstruction, and meditation family of practices (Ates, 2017, 2022).
The creative process of the contemplative arts is similar to the creative arts therapy; similar modalities such as brush painting, collage, contemplative writing, body movement, and contemplative photography are mediums used to observe, contemplate the mind and cultivate value-based qualities. – Ates, 2017.
You may use formal and informal practices to learn attention and concentration skills. However, remember that for new habits to stay, you must repeat the practice daily or every two days, whatever works for you. But the repeating process is critical for new patterns to be integrated. You need to be patient and non-judgmental about your experience because it might take months for this integration to happen.
1) Formal practice of Shamatha, or calm abiding, with my teacher and mentor of Shambhala Art, Anne Saitzyk, Shamatha Meditation Instruction (2019). Here, the intention is to cultivate attention and concentration to bring calm to the embodied mind by using the object of breath.
In this practice, you need proper posture, clear intention, and connect and synchronize mind, heart and breath.
In the next blog, I will introduce you to the informal Informal contemplative creative practice.
See you next week,
Emma JM. Ates
YouTube video: Unwavering Focus | Dandapani | TEDxReno - retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O2JK_94g3Y&t=654s
Ates, E. JM. (2017). Contemplative Photo Therapy: Group Intervention for Youth with Anxiety Disorders.
Shambhala Art: Shamatha Meditation Instruction with Anne Saitzyk - retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlCSGikh7Fo