With so many talented residents in Bayview Village, it is no surprise that Carol Knowlton-Dority, a local artist, is sharing her skills and experience in an upcoming workshop that combines yoga with contemporary visual art. On January 24, 31 and February 7, please join Carol and yoga instructor Jessica Cheung at the Jaya Yoga Centre for a guided meditation session through one of her many works of art. Carol has kindly shared her own experience through this journey with us:
I asked my friend, expressive arts collaborator and Yoga teacher, Jessica Cheung, to lead me through a guided meditation using one of my own paintings: Contemplation, #1. I found myself humbled and amazed by the experience of gaining something new and profound from something so familiar.
After helping me to attain a sense of calm, Jessica asked me to look at the painting, encouraging me to let my gaze move softly over the image. I saw a young man, looking backwards over his shoulder and gazing up into the sky. I saw openings of blue sky amid the clouds. I observed the colours, the clouds and how the light moved over the figure. Then she asked me to imagine myself stepping into the young man’s body. Adolescent. Shirtless. She prompted me with questions: What are you standing on? What are you looking at? How do you feel? I explored the answers to these questions quietly, within myself.
Within the young man, I felt that I seem to be longing for something: guidance, an answer or some comfort. I realized that I felt vulnerable and that I was looking for help from something beyond myself. My inner distress felt more difficult than I knew how to manage. I was wondering, hoping, looking for direction.
When Jessica then asked me to look around and see what else I saw, my gaze moved from the sky above to what lay before me. The scene changed in a way that I hadn’t anticipated it would. Before me I saw a salt marsh. It was a salt marsh that I recognized. My husband and I have been to this place a number of times; it is one of our “happy places”. My gaze was focused on the upright reeds. The vibrant, green reeds of the salt marsh were strong and flourishing. I realized that I was entirely at peace in this setting; as if time itself was standing still. My feelings changed from those of tension and vulnerability to a restful sense of calm.
Gently, Jessica brought me back to where I began the meditation, in the living room of my own home.
The image of the robust reeds stayed with me and I pondered them over the next few days.
This experience helped to clarify for me one of the most beautiful things about meditating on a painting: the experience can help to change one’s perspective. The image of the salt marsh was peaceful and powerful even though the salt marsh lives in a world that can, at times, threaten its survival. I realized that like the young man in the painting, I was feeling vulnerable and threatened as a result of my husband’s ongoing struggle/recovery from a health crisis.
When reflecting on the experience I had of looking out over the salt marsh, I was struck by its strength. Even though one cannot see the ocean floor from which the salt marsh grows, its vitality is linked to its roots in the nourishing power of the ocean: ancient and sustaining. I realized that I too could be nourished and sustained in times of vulnerability. Like the salt marsh, I must drink deeply from the ancient and sustaining practices that bring me peace.
I find that having a guided meditation on a painting is a comforting and enriching experience. I would like to invite you to join Jessica Cheung and I, as we offer a unique workshop series that brings together yoga practice with contemporary visual art, to explore how the skills of mindfulness and heightened awareness support meaningful engagement with the world around us and in our relationships with others.
Yoga & Visual Art: An Explorative Meditation
January 24, 31, February 7, 2016 | Location: Jaya Yoga Centre | Registration: www.jayayoga.ca