Contemplative Art

April 12th, 2008

Contemplative Practice and the Artistic Process: Drawing as Contemplative Practice with Corey Drieth, artist and assistant professor at CU, Colorado Springs and Sources: Inspiration/Muse with Jennie Kiessling Michler. The workshop is being presented in conjunction with the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art (FCMOCA) and an exhibit by Drieth called “Intuitive Geometries” March 4 -May 10.

For ongoing contemplative art programs, contact the Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center.

Shambhala Contemplative Arts

As a community, Shambhala embraces a variety of contemplative arts and practices. These disciplines are inspired by Nalanda, an eleventh-century Indian university that welcomed teachings from many different traditions. Contemplative arts and practices bring beauty, vividness and wisdom to our lives and environment.

The following are some of the disciplines practiced by Shambhala members. Some are organized into local or even international groups. Others are loose networks of practitioners who share an inspiration to apply the principles of wakefulness to their personal pursuit of the arts.

A contemplative approach can be brought into any of the arts, including design, music, dance, and poetry. Many Shambhala Centers offer arts programs or host special interest groups who meet regularly to explore contemplative approaches to education, business and health care.

Shambhala Art

Shambhala Art is art that springs from the meditative state of mind. As a process, it brings wakefulness and awareness to the creative and viewing processes through the integration of contemplation and meditation. It is based on a collection of teachings by Chögyam Trungpa that appreciate the uniqueness of everyday sensory experience, the art of everyday life. Shambhala Art does not teach a particular skill or technique such as painting, sculpture, or dance. It is about the source of inspiration, its manifestation, and how it speaks to us. Seeing the simplicity of things as they are provides the ground for genuine creative expression. These teachings are offered in a series of weekend programs.

See also

Mudra Space Awareness

This awareness practice consists of a series of postures and movements adapted from traditional Tibetan monastic dance by the late meditation master, artist and scholar, Chogyam Trungpa. He explains the training for this dance as being “extremely monotonous and boring with no consideration for even minimal human comfort”. This rigor, however, enables one to become and to remain present during even the most intensive situations. Therefore he designed the Mudra exercises so that Western students, living under the pressures of performance and every day life, can meet these challenges with mind, speech and body. With practice Mudra training will dramatically heighten sensitivity to the interplay of form and space and provide authentic tools for improved awareness and communication.

See also

Maitri Space Awareness

Maitri Space Awareness and Five Wisdom Energies practice was first developed by Chögyam Trungpa and is based on the principles of the five buddha families of Tibetan tantra. Each buddha family emphasizes a particular aspect of enlightened energy or wisdom. These energies also have their confused emotional and environmental aspects, which the practitioner learns how to recognize and transform. The emphasis of the practice is on discovering within these raw and wakeful energies unconditional friendliness (or maitri) towards oneself. This discovery becomes a basis for living one’s life more fully, skillfully understanding and relating with others, and establishing a dynamic and healthy relationship with one’s work, home and natural environments. The Maitri Space Awareness and Five Wisdom Energies practice are practiced in weekend programs at Shambhala centers or in intensive retreats at Shambhala residential centers.

Read more about Maitri

Kalapa Ikebana

Ikebana, the traditional Japanese Way of Arranging Flowers has its origins in Shinto, where arrangements were made as shrine offerings. Currently there are many schools of Ikebana. Kalapa Ikebana, initiated by Chögyam Trungpa, mixes the traditional teachings of Ikebana and contemplative meditation practice. Training in joining heaven, earth and man is very explicit in Ikebana: one is dealing with space and form and the three main elements which can be put together in eight different ways or variations. After rigorous training in these forms, one is then introduced to freestyle. By creating an environment which allows us to pay attention to our sense perceptions in a non-aggressive way, we are connecting with sacred world.

See also the Sogetsu website for more information about ikebana in general.

Local classes are available from Sharon Stuart, Sensei, Master Teacher of the Sogetsu School. Contact Sharon at, 970-221-0983

Kyudo (Zen Archery)

Kyudo means the way of the bow and can be described as a form of standing meditation. Under the direction of Shibata Kanjuro, Sensei and senior instructors, students learn an ancient form of archery using traditional Japanese bows. Kyudo is a form of meditation practice, not sport, and hitting the target is not considered important. The purpose of kyudo is to purify one’s heart and mind to awaken the natural dignity of being human, beyond the obstacles of ambition, aggression or confusion.

See also or

The following are also part of the Contemplative Arts curriculum.

Miksang Photography, Dressage, Bugaku and Gagaku (Japanese Dance and Music), Calligraphy, & Chanoyu (Japanese Tea Ceremony)


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