This past January, I had the opportunity to complete a teacher training for Shambhala Art, a curriculum I had been studying since I began going to the Austin Shambhala Center seven years ago. Because of my creative leanings, I was drawn to the Shambhala Art path because of its synthesis of meditation and creativity, and its approach to the creative process, emphasizing direct experience via the five senses, engagement with the phenomenal world, and the state of mind of both artist and viewer/perceiver. Plus, Shambhala Art is playful, with exercises designed to wake us up and connect us powerfully with the world around us as we create art.
As a songwriter, I had often found myself struggling for inspiration, or approaching the creative process as "work," with little joy or spontaneity. When I began studying Shambhala Art and other contemplative arts disciplines like Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) and Miksang (contemplative photography), I began to see the world and the creative process in a new way, which brought more freshness and dynamism to my songwriting process. The contemplative arts have also helped me to see my whole life with fresh eyes, and to understand the artful nature of everyday activities like gardening, cooking, and the way I dress and decorate my home.
The Shambhala Art curriculum is based in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhist teacher and Shambhala founder Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, condensed into the book True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art. The curriculum is divided into five distinct programs programs which explore the creative process from the perspective of the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and meditation, and can be applied to any artistic medium or practice. I will be co-teaching a Shambhala Art weekend, along with my mentor Lynn Wolfe, the weekend of August 16-17, at the Austin Shambhala Meditation Center. The weekend will cover Shambhala Art Parts 1 & 2: “Coming to Your Senses,” and “Seeing Things as They Are.”
For more information about the upcoming Shambhala Art weekend in Austin and to register, please visit http://austin.shambhala.org/program-details/?id=178441. For more information about the Shambhala Art curriculum more generally, please visit the Shambhala Art International website at http://www.shambhalaart.org/.