Hello again. I just arrived back from a meditation retreat in the beautiful Red Feather Lakes area in Northern Colorado, hence my absence. The Shambala Mountain Center was founded by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, famous for bringing a certain blend of Tibetan and Zen meditation practices to the west in the 70s. He also founded Naropa Institute, an accredited Buddhist college in Boulder here with the help of Ginsberg and other Beats.
While I was at the retreat, we meditated for about seven or eight hours a day, trading off between walking and sitting meditations. The practice has the eyes gently focussed and open and the styles shift back and forth so that you’re never really able to completely space out. This was new for me and I found it difficult to relax at first. I even was unable to sleep very soundly since being so mindful of thoughts prevented the normal dualistic manner I generally lead my life. In normal activity, I’m mindful of what’s going on, and other times I try to imagine I’m on break. This is confusing because really, I’m always alive. There’s no break from that, until of course, I’m dead. So how to relax without a way to escape life is the project.
A knot of tension revealed itself in my back and became so powerful that it felt electrical. Sitting and observing it for days on end helped it become so crisp and clear that it seemed I could have drawn its shape if I were asked. While floating in and out of sleep the last night, I imagined unscrewing this spot in my back mechanically with a screwdriver. The next day in meditation, that visual served its purpose perfectly. I could almost feel–even hear–the screwdriver connecting with the solid bone of my back, entering from the front, and searching for the head of the screw. Once I’d located the phillips head, I unscrewed the tension. If it returned, I would repeat the process. Eventually the pain went away.
After a day of reorienting myself on Monday, I used the Wacom tablet to draw this image yesterday as a reminder. The tablet is fantastic and very easy to get used to. Soon I will be getting some of these works screenprinted, so stick around for the announcement.
Other images from the meditation retreat will follow soon…