Active Meditation – A Process Also Used Within Craftsmanship

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With in this article I want to talk about a concept of what I have called “active meditation”. When people talk about meditation and going on retreats and spending hours sitting looking at the flame of a candle I’m afraid I glaze over and lose interest. I don’t wish to criticise those who meditate, for any action that enhances thought, gives greater depth to our understanding, has got to be okay. But to me sitting on a cushion seems a little unproductive.
Many times I’ve attempted to take up proper meditation. I sat there observing my breath, emptying my head looking at the candle flame. Yes this is “real meditation” but for me I need something a little more active.
Sportsmen and women speak of being “in the zone”, this is when one is so focused without conscious thought, without the interfering control of conscious thought, just doing it. This is when you win. This is when the serve goes in the court or the putt goes in the hole without you thinking how exactly you put it there.
Craftsmanship is a little bit like this. Once you know how to do it,even before then you could find yourself in the zone. You come in hang your coat up at 8.30 and BING its coffee break. Settle down again to the bench work and BING its lunchtime. This way entire seasons can come and go, years, lifetimes can pass unnoticed. It is an act of meditation but different from sitting on the cushion this is active meditation.
I had a sportsman respond to my description of this very positively. He is a professional cricketer, a wicket keeper. He needs to be focused the whole time he is on the field, yet he cannot overcook it. He needs the kind of concentration that sees him there all the time for a two-hour session and brightly alive when the ball comes through to him for that important match winning catch.
An artist Judy Kensey McKie described to me the process she uses of going in her head to the bottom of a deep pool, somewhere cool quiet and still, whenever she needed to focus on drawings. This is the place of deep concentration. And yet it was also a place of work, our ideas could be placed down on paper, clarified and concentrated. Drawing is another form of active meditation.
Up and down the land people are seeking to make furniture with their eyes not on the point of arrival but on the journey. On the process on doing it. Time and again the quality of the object is being taken well beyond the necessary just for the sake of doing it “right”
At a time in this web too short sound bite world. When our concentration time is chopped into little pieces by incoming faxes, e-mails, Tweets and Facebook entries we need to preserve our quality of focus. There is a certain quality of thinking that demands focus, focus, focus.

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TedsWoodworking Plans and Projects