Monkeys vs Meditation

The screeching scrambling monkey troupe that operates many functions of my thinking and the ‘I’ that defers frequently to their yelps, are silent partners. Mostly the troupe leaps and lurches through thinking amidst a persistent erratic chatter and heralds this activity as a condition of the postmodern person –busymultitaskingbeingdoingdododododotryingmoremoremoreheretherewhatnowplusthatthingyouforgot, or it protests persuasively that its frantic itchy scratchy presence is a symptom of the artist who is always searching, questioning, turning things upside down and leaping of tall buildings of expectation. I am its silent partner because I occasionally ask it to please keep quite. This week our negotiations went like this…

ME         “Hello monkey mind, its me Hannah. I know you have been spectacularly busy so you may not have noticed that we are in Norway now. May I suggest you all go into hibernation given that this is not your natural habitat. Take a vacation. Lie on a beach.”

MONKEY’S

“But look at that floor you could sand it and make and dust carpet or you could take all those old tables and sand them and make dust patterns or see those windows that are grimy green and a little mossy you could do that thing you did once where you cleaned patterns into them or you could make some work in the moldy house or your own house or you could do a 24hrDP and you have to write that application and your thesis and that paper or wait wait wait you could do some more paper cut curtains to cover the studio windows or what about pin prick works in scrap paper look there’s some paper use that or the wall or just… and…. and but and”

ME        “shhhhhhhhh”

MONKEY’S

“sjhfgbrth oskjhg er wirgloookkgjb  shoodllkbgb sdkkkk g dlos gosdg s nsbdf,eu ak djh sdjh  gh  sdjghwgy”

ME         “You can’t fool me with your Norwegian. You do not belong in the clouds with me and you are of no assistance to me here. Shhhhhhh.”

       

Variations of this conversation occur daily and it’s not so much difficult, as it is

repetitive and tiresome like the child who wants to stay up late and keeps getting

out of bed to ask for a glass of water. But I’m getting tougher, setting some rules:

 

1.     Don’t listen to the anxious monkey’s persuading you to make the same old work.

2.      

3.      

 

Ok, so I only have one rule and perhaps its more of a sign post – ‘This road does

not lead anywhere intersting. Find another route.’

 

Now here in pictures is a look at some of the actions, games and activities I have

been doing in order to quieten down and open up to some new possibilities. 

 

Rather than buy my regular art supplies I asked the art store if I could have this box of recycling.  

Rather than buy my regular art supplies I asked the art store if I could have this box of recycling.  

Then I sorted and grouped all my new treasures. Even if i don't make work with them I have things to play with, plastic bags to collect things in, old tape rolls to draw circles with, all sorts of bits of string and wire, and lots of free card and paper to draw on.

Then I sorted and grouped all my new treasures. Even if i don't make work with them I have things to play with, plastic bags to collect things in, old tape rolls to draw circles with, all sorts of bits of string and wire, and lots of free card and paper to draw on.

Amongst my treasures were some wood shavings, lovely little curlycues. So I sorted them out too. 

Amongst my treasures were some wood shavings, lovely little curlycues. So I sorted them out too. 

I made a wood shaving mandala out of it. Its a bit contrived and I think i prefer the rambling pattern in the next photo. And of course the monkeys cried "makeacarpet make a carpet of different coloured wood shavings goen on make a carpet" hmmmm maybe

I made a wood shaving mandala out of it. Its a bit contrived and I think i prefer the rambling pattern in the next photo. And of course the monkeys cried "makeacarpet make a carpet of different coloured wood shavings goen on make a carpet" hmmmm maybe

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I'm reading essays from this Swedish art catalogue

I'm reading essays from this Swedish art catalogue

When the afternoon jet lag sets in I sit at my desk and doodle. I have found that quite sedentary activities result in me accidentally sleeping for 3-4 hours. So I try to use this deep fatigue to be a time of letting the pen wander without purpose.

When the afternoon jet lag sets in I sit at my desk and doodle. I have found that quite sedentary activities result in me accidentally sleeping for 3-4 hours. So I try to use this deep fatigue to be a time of letting the pen wander without purpose.

I'm knitting like a stoned grandma, very very slowly. So far I have made a nice warm soft headband out of alpaca and silk. I thought about doing some of Kendall's improvisational knitting, but at the moment I need things to have a simple meditative rhythm.

I'm knitting like a stoned grandma, very very slowly. So far I have made a nice warm soft headband out of alpaca and silk. I thought about doing some of Kendall's improvisational knitting, but at the moment I need things to have a simple meditative rhythm.

But my very favorite things to do every morning is what call a ritual walk into the unknown. I move the furniture around the studio, then I spin around with my eyes shut and very slowly I walk around the space  with my hands behind my back and I try not to bump into anything. I imagine that the floor is full of holes and the walls are the edges of cliffs and I never know if I'm going to fall into a well or tumble over a cliff or get hit by a truck/table. It helps to translate physically the mental experience of entering an unknown landscape of creative endevour. And because it is play I feel like I can enjoy the uncertainty and sometimes i get really courageous and start shuffling around really quickly until...smash.