For some of us, sitting cross-legged focusing on the third eye for all of eternity may still not get us into a state of Zen; I am one of those. Reading books like ‘Ikigai’ – the Japanese secret to contentment or more close to home and heart, ‘Susegad’– the Portuguese-influenced Goan secret to laidback contentment; it’s all about getting into a state of flow, where your mind is occupied and mindful of the task at hand. It’s all about being joyfully present in the here and now.
I’m no guru where I can tout Zen and the art of living, but like the rest of humanity, if there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s the importance of taking a step back and evaluating time. Perhaps for the very first time, we’ve realised that there are so many things we are not in control of, in our uber controlled, connected and device-driven lives.
The ultimate goal of a meditative experience is the release of serotonin, those feel-good hormones. That’s perhaps the reason why so many at the start of the pandemic started baking sourdough bread – and if you’ve gone through the process of creating your starter, proofing and baking, it takes weeks. Ultimately the proof of this dough’s euphoric powers is biting into that toasty bread and of course a delectable, well-framed, Instagram shot didn’t hurt anyone – serotonin release, 100%.
And no, I didn’t end up baking bread. I have an app for that, where they magically deliver a weeks’ worth of hard work to my doorstep. (Don’t judge my methods of releasing serotonin). What I did end up doing was reconnecting with my artistic self. Yes, I picked up a brush and painted. There’s nothing more trans-meditative than watching line and colour take form and design on canvas and if you’re ever so alert, you will even hear the bristles woosh and sludge on mini mounds of paint on palette just yearning to become masterpieces. Nothing rushed, nothing delivered in half an hour, everything meditative.
Pablo Picasso is famously known for saying, ‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”. He couldn’t be closer to the truth. Research has highlighted the healing properties of art on the mind and body. Until I master meditation, it’s one colourful brush stroke at a time.