Last weekend, I taught a third round of my Meditation and Art two-day workshops at AVA. Each time is slightly different, with the embodied Five Directions practice as a constant guiding structure. People who turn up for something like this are pretty self-selecting: you have to be interested in contemplative practice; you have to be interested in art-making; you have to be willing to dedicate a whole weekend to exploration, without the built-in payoff of CEU's, a famous teacher, or any established tradition. Just: pack your cushion & mat & lunch, and come on down. I could not have asked for a more marvelous group of participants, nor a better venue than AVA's sunlit South Studio.
For me, guiding people through the cycle of the Five Directions, finding their own imagery and connections, their own challenges and griefs, their own wholeness and wisdom, is incredibly rewarding work. People know so much, and as soon as they feel there is a genuine invitation and safe space to reveal what they know, they open gladly into revealed presence. That might sound pollyanna, but I've seen it happen again and again.
I'm going to post a few images of my own work from the weekend, describing the arc of the practice in a few images…
PART 1: Offerings
What have you recently enjoyed in eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind? Bring these to your attention, and offer them in gratitude to What Is, as you prepare to enter into the sacred space of contemplation, inquiry, and embodied expression.
Part 2: Guardians
Who within yourself guards the boundary of a safe & sacred space? These guardians could be bright, wrathful, or both.
Part 3: Teachers and Lineage
Who are your teachers? Who has shown you something of your true potential as a human being in this life? What are your lineages?
Part 4: The Five Directions
Part 5: Bringing the Mandala into Three Dimensions
Working with the tactile qualities of clay, go into the directions, making a small devotional sculpture for each one. Let yourself be surprised by what your hands want to make. Let yourself see their particular qualities and their unity.
So, those are the bones of the two-day Five Directions workshop, plus discussion time for each person to present her work, and periods of sitting and laying-down meditation interspersed. I offer thanks to all my teachers, and my students. Thank you for the chance to practice. Thank you for the chance to teach.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.