Mindfulness: Another Take

Do one thing at a time —

Watch out, pay attention —

There are as many ways to define mindfulness and meditation as there are people who walk the way (or try to).

In The Museum Age, Germain Bazin (distinguished art historian and chief curator of paintings at the Louvre during his lifetime)  put it like this:

“Statues must be isolated in space, paintings hung far apart, a glittering jewel placed against a field of black velvet and spot-lighted; in principle, only one object at a time should appear in the field of vision.  Iconographic meaning, overall harmony, aspects that attracted the nineteenth century amateur, no longer interest the contemporary museum goer, who is obsessed with form and workmanship; the eye must be able to scan slowly the entire surface of a painting.  The act of looking becomes a sort of trance uniting spectator and masterpiece.”

I was first made aware of the need to strip away in order to truly “see”  by Br. Eric of the ecumenical community of Taizé. Br. Eric was an artist, who not only produced wonderful works himself, but enabled his friends to put on an “artist’s eye”, to see more, and deeper, than we ever had before. One of the ways, he taught me, was to put away all the objects on a surface except one. It didn’t matter how beautiful the individual objects were; they all were to be put away except a single one, which then had space around it. And in the space, it could be seen. Really seen.

As with space, so with time. To do things quickly, to rush to get them done, was to slight them. And to multi-task — that is to do none of them! A mantra given to him by his own spiritual director was Do One Thing at a Time. Br. Eric was certainly on the same wave length as M. Bazin. Perhaps even now they are conversing about art, or other agreeable subjects, in the Elysian fields. I smile to think so.

You can try this experiment: Look at the thumbnail of Br. Eric’s painting, Convergence, leading off this post. It’s tucked in a corner, small, surrounded by print and ideas. Did you even notice it?

Now click on this link to Br. Eric’s painting and nothing else needs to be said. (But you might want to take a few deep breaths and spend a little time here.)

This entry was posted in Art, Color, Etcetera, Mindfulness, Quotes, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Mindfulness: Another Take

  1. Claudia says:

    Indeed I so often multi-task and in that process, I likely do not focus on anything and therefore lose so much of value!

    With the multitude of data streaming past us, how to select something and then pay close attention to it alone is a skill I’d like help to accomplish much more frequently!


    • Touch2Touch says:

      You certainly call it right. We’re surrounded by a great big carnival 24/7 trying every trick in the book to get our attention.
      One quality that’s essential for focus is RUTHLESSNESS. Picking one thing to focus on, and sticking with it —
      In our culture of MORE is MORE, focus (mindfulness) is counter-cultural.


  2. Stef says:

    I have written about mindfulness on my meditation blog at length; for a connection to “unitasking”, see bullets 11 & 12 here: http://meditationmania.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/afterward/. 🙂


  3. Rebekah says:

    ‘Mindfulness’ is a word that I’ve encountered quite often recently.

    Even though I don’t have to go to work, I’m a victim of the MORE MORE concept. More information, the web, the TV … always connected.

    I’ve read Stef’s meditation blog and there’s a lot to think about … A LOT.


  4. Pauline says:

    There is a certain restfulness to being surrounded by a multitude of colors or things and letting them all pour through you until they are part of you. It’s more of an unfocusing that allows you to step away from the clutter and relax in it at the same time. Focusing on one thing tends to make me jumpy. One can isolate a single object even in the midst of many – the trick is letting yourself go out of focus 😉 It’s how I deal with nature, a huge, messy, crowded place where everything is worth looking at and being absorbed…


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Interesting observation, Pauline.
      For me, being in a cluttered environment sucks out the air out — unfocusing becomes a necessity then if I’m to breathe.
      I’m sure this is a temperamental matter.
      But nobody (I don’t imagine) focuses ALL the time, anywhere, under any circumstance.


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