Artists or people in the art world with jobs that require creativity, involve starting with a blank canvas (literally and figuratively…). This can be very frustrating and daunting at times, causing built up anxieties and problems. Once you’ve finally become inspired to start on that piece of art or a project, those anxieties can still loom and worsen. A series of questions seem to swirl around in your mind, like how do I carry on? What colour, stroke, font to use next? Shall I go rogue and just shred it – Banksy style? Will I ever finish? How will my Instagram fans feel about my latest work? How will I pay the rent this month? Wait… did I turn the gas off before leaving the house?!
Image via Artsy: Marina Abramović in Brazil, still from the documentary The Space in Between, 2016. Directed by Marco Del Fiol Courtesy of Casa Redonda.
The treatment to deal with such stressful issues in the art world typically used to be indulging in something cliché of arty folk. Like getting gloriously drunk and maybe cutting off an ear, smoking something dodgy to take away the pain, or doing something erratic like organising a meeting with Trump to tell him how great he is…
Image via The Telegraph
Today however, in our more health-conscious yogi, vegan era, meditation is increasingly the go-to-method for dealing with stress and unlocking one’s creativity. The creative likes of David Lynch, Yoko Ono, Leonard Cohen and Jack Kerouac swear by the powers of meditating to ease the burdens of stress.
Alongside these well-known creatives Marina Abramović also is a big fan of the art of meditation. Such a big fan that the controversial performance artist developed her “Abramović Method” – a series of meditative exercises focused on increasing concentration and self-reflection – as a means of preserving her legacy. Originally a program exclusively for artists, the Abramović Method is now available to the general public. The most straightforward task such as walking or breathing is meant help the participants to investigate and push their individual mental and physical limits. Performing these simple actions is believed to counteract the rushed pace of day-to-day living. Emphasis is placed on consciously doing one thing at a time, often very, very slowly, to achieve a deeper awareness of yourself and the world around you. This includes help from a special series of Transitory Objects, mainly chairs and tables covered healing minerals and crystals. These minerals and crystals are said to enhance the Method experience, as these materials possess natural energetic properties to maintain the energy of a moment long after it has passed. The Method has been performed at various artist retrospectives (and by pop musician Lady Gaga) and is made up of a variety of activities. Abramović ‘s main goal for the whole experience is to decelerate the busy rhythms that prevent audiences from fully appreciating art. Something we can get behind!
Her foray into meditation did not start here however, The Abramovic Method developed over decades of research on performance and immaterial art. This included a series of student workshops she hosted called “Still Life.” They involved exercises like complaining to a tree and walking backward while holding a mirror. It also included doing everything very slowly: walking, drinking water, showering. Basically, infusing a kind of mindfulness to everyday activities, which in turn, is basically kind of meditation. For those who struggle with meditating, Abramović’s method of appreciating the small things in life can feel like baby steps to perfect the art of mediation. So, we suggest you start of by following a few of Abramović’s simple steps below to start on your meditating journey. Lets hope they can ease the stresses of your creative lifestyle!
Hold a tree and complain to it for a minimum of fifteen minutes.Sitting in a chair, look at a sheet of paper printed with one of the primary colors for one hour. Repeat with the other two colors.
With your eyes closed, extend your hands in front of you toward another participant. Never touching the other person, move your hands around different areas of their body for one hour.
Very slowly open a door, neither entering nor exiting. After three hours the door is not a door anymore.
Start walking from a given point, proceeding in a straight line through the landscape for four hours. Rest, then return along the same route.
Walk backward for four hours while holding a mirror in your hand.
For the entire day, do everything very slowly: walking, drinking water, showering. Peeing in slow motion is difficult, but give it a go. Cherish the day, bask in the sun and notice the clean, brisk air.