The Mind’s Eye

“The eye needs a place to rest.” When painting a few recent compositions, a floral arrangement, a crow in flight painted in vibrant oils, etc., I remembered what my favorite art teachers told me. Everything in a composition shouldn’t be so busy that the observer can’t find a place of stillness.

So it is in my Yoga practice as well, for the so-called “third eye” of the mind. The pace of life, the swirling, messy cloud around us at all times, may bring us joy, anger or confusion. Or all of these things can happen at once. Stilling the mind is a challenge for me, no matter how long I practice. “Monkey mind” tries to take over constantly.

I was recently doing an oil painting of a floral arrangement, brightly colored with strong values. I remembered that I needed that “restful” place in the composition and softened some of the background and other areas. I let the flowers be the star. Much better.

I made choices as I painted, just as I have to make choices in life. We are always thinking of all the things we have to do or want to do, some of which can be harder than hell. Positive practices that give us a chance to slow the racing pace of life can give us the power to go harder at the things we want to do or must do (whether we want to or not).

Stillness within and without is as important of an accomplishment as going out and doing those big challenges. Chaos comes at us from within our own thoughts and choices, from stuff that happens to us and in our families, from turning on the TV or computer-everywhere. We forget to pause and make sure we have a chance to settle into a calm place, even if it is only for a brief time, breathe and slow the noise that goes on within and without. One may be reenergized and able to focus better on tasks after such a practice.

Some of the places where I find rest are within my exercise practice, or when I take time to walk in nature, or when I have a paintbrush in hand. The old saying “stop and smell the roses” is true. It might be the quiet time in the morning when I’m having that first cup of coffee, before the day gets rolling with responsibilities and worries. Everything will still be there when you finish letting the mind have a bit of rest, but I think you’ll be a bit stronger and more energized for it if you let the “mind’s eye” get a break regularly.

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