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Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind If...

Mar 17, 2013
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Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind


  If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.


I have drunk the meditation Kool-Aid. Been at it off and on for a month and a half. I don’t have a school or a teacher or anything, I just put my kid down for a nap, sit at the top of the stairs, set my iPhone timer for 10 mins, and close my eyes. That’s it, really.

It’s been a really positive experience. I feel less stressed, lighter. I’ve also had some really weird visions, which I doodle in my sketchbook.

I had this book on my shelf for years, but only read it recently. A lot of my favorite artists have Zen backgrounds, but it was really surprising to me how much of this book applies to creativity and art. (Of course, half of it makes no sense to me at all.)

For instance, here’s Suzuki:


  When you give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something.


And here’s Andy Warhol:


  As soon as you stop wanting something you get it.




This bit could illustrate the “what we are” vs. “what we want to be” illustration from Steal Like An Artist:


  If an artist becomes too idealistic, he will commit suicide, because between his ideal and his actual ability there is a great gap. Because there is no bridge long enough to go across the gap, he will begin to despair.


Anyways, if you’ve ever been interested in meditation, here are a few (edited) tips my friend Sunni sent me that have really worked for me:


  Don’t worry about doing it “right.” There is no “right” in meditation. There’s no “right” posture. There’s no “right” thing to visualize. Some days you’ll sit and feel calm. Other days you won’t. Just let it ride.
  Don’t try to control your thoughts. For some reason, a lot of people think that the goal is to manage and change your thoughts somehow. It’s the complete opposite. The idea is to observe your thoughts, to let them make all the sound and fury they want and just sit with it. Think of it like shaking a snow globe and watching the flakes swirl and fall. No need to judge it or change it; just watch it.
  Start with 10 minutes a day. Build from there.

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

I have drunk the meditation Kool-Aid. Been at it off and on for a month and a half. I don’t have a school or a teacher or anything, I just put my kid down for a nap, sit at the top of the stairs, set my iPhone timer for 10 mins, and close my eyes. That’s it, really.

It’s been a really positive experience. I feel less stressed, lighter. I’ve also had some really weird visions, which I doodle in my sketchbook.

I had this book on my shelf for years, but only read it recently. A lot of my favorite artists have Zen backgrounds, but it was really surprising to me how much of this book applies to creativity and art. (Of course, half of it makes no sense to me at all.)

For instance, here’s Suzuki:

When you give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something.

And here’s Andy Warhol:

As soon as you stop wanting something you get it.

steal like an artist

This bit could illustrate the “what we are” vs. “what we want to be” illustration from Steal Like An Artist:

If an artist becomes too idealistic, he will commit suicide, because between his ideal and his actual ability there is a great gap. Because there is no bridge long enough to go across the gap, he will begin to despair.

Anyways, if you’ve ever been interested in meditation, here are a few (edited) tips my friend Sunni sent me that have really worked for me:

  1. Don’t worry about doing it “right.” There is no “right” in meditation. There’s no “right” posture. There’s no “right” thing to visualize. Some days you’ll sit and feel calm. Other days you won’t. Just let it ride.
  2. Don’t try to control your thoughts. For some reason, a lot of people think that the goal is to manage and change your thoughts somehow. It’s the complete opposite. The idea is to observe your thoughts, to let them make all the sound and fury they want and just sit with it. Think of it like shaking a snow globe and watching the flakes swirl and fall. No need to judge it or change it; just watch it.
  3. Start with 10 minutes a day. Build from there.

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    long - but worth - read.
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