Sharon Salzberg. From rubinmuseum.org
New York City’s Rubin Museum of Art will host a series of sessions by Buddhist author Sharon Salzberg and other teachers from the New York Insight Meditation Center in August and September to teach mindfulness and discuss the relationship between meditation and art.
Buddhists have long known of the efficacy of meditation to quiet the mind, open the heart, and increase the ability to focus. Growing interest in the West in Buddhism and mindfulness in recent years has seen scientists, business leaders, and artists alike embrace meditation as a tool for mental and spiritual health.
“The benefits are sometimes summed up in the ABCs: greater awareness, balance, and connection. We tend to have more perspective and be more responsive rather than reactive to all the ups and downs of our day,” said Sharon Salzberg, who is leading the meditation series at the museum. (amNewYork)
Each weekly, lunchtime session will feature a different work of art from the Rubin Museum of Art’s collection, and will include an opening talk, a 20-minute meditation session, and a closing discussion.
“The practices of meditation and art have long gone hand in hand, and art itself is often described as a meditative experience,” noted public relations and marketing manager at the museum Robin Carol. (Patheos)
A sculpture of the Buddha Shakyamuni from the Rubin Museum of Art's collection. From rubinmuseum.org
On its website, the museum gives examples of five well-known artists who have practiced meditation: film director David Lynch and multimedia artist Yoko Ono, both practitioners of Transcendental Meditation; performance artist Marina Abramovic, who has created her own “Abramovic Method”; and musician and poet Leonard Cohen and novelist and poet Jack Kerouac (now deceased), both practitioners of Buddhist meditation. Cohen has previously ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk.
On the subject of Zen meditation, Cohen has said: “If you sit there long enough, you run through all the alternative ways the events in your life could have turned out. After a while, the activity of thinking, that interior chatter, begins to subside from time to time. And what rushes in, in the same way that light rushes into a room when you switch on the light, is another kind of mood that overtakes you.” (The Guardian)
“For the most part, I feel that the Western approach to art and art making over-emphasizes self-expression and narrative,” commented artist, author, and educator Steve Saitzyk, director of Shambhala Art, a nonprofit arts education program designed to integrate meditation into the creative process.
“A Buddhist or meditative approach examines this by posing the question: What is the ‘self’ that is being expressed? Is it ego, or what? A meditative approach advocates that we would be best served if we focused less on the ‘self’ and more on the expression part of the creative process. Such an approach is called pure expression rather than self-expression, because one has learned through meditation how to let go of the relentless self-referencing, self-dialoging, self-consciousness, self-criticism, and so on, for at least a few moments, in favor of being relaxed, present, tuned-in, and responsive. Which, by the way, is not all that easy to do, but meditation sure helps.” (Patheos)
Sharon Salzberg co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, with fellow authors and vipassana meditation teachers Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein in 1974. In 1989, she co-founded the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and nine years later, The Forest Refuge, a long-term meditation retreat center. Her emphasis is on both vipassana (insight) and metta (loving-kindness), which have their origins in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.
The Rubin Museum of Art is dedicated to the collection and preservation of the art and culture of the Himalayas, India, and neighboring regions. Its permanent collection has a focus on Tibetan art.