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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Art Zone

One of the reasons athletes say that they love to do what they do is because of that inimitable moment when they "get in the zone."  Runners, for instance, describe the zone as losing track of time, sometimes even losing track of their own body and just being 'in the now.'  Psychologist and physicians assure us that at that moment, there is an overwhelming rush of endorphins, dopamine and other chemicals that surge through the body, flooding the neurons and synapses with what I call "internal bliss." 

(c) nz.srichinmoycentre.org, used for educational purposes only.
In meditation, students are often asked to start by focusing on a candle flame.
I recently completed a meditation class and was astounded to discover that I was able to achieve this same internal bliss by spending a few minutes focusing on a single item, piece of music and just letting my thoughts and usual stresses unravel.  I lost track of time (and didn't care). I was relaxed and when I finished meditating, I felt oh! so good!!

Artists too can get to that place.  Even though we aren't necessarily using physical movement like the athlete or mind quieting techniques like a guru, the practice of making art and creating does, indeed, have the potential of that mindless, timeless, totally focused internal bliss.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined this term as "The Flow."  On Wikipedia, he defined it as, "a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter (Csikszentmihalyi,1990). The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored." 

Ultimately, we all want to be in the groove!

How do you get into The Art Zone?
1.  Go to the studio.
2.  Choose a project.
3.  Clear away everything but that project.
4.  Focus on each detail of the project as individual units.  Be aware of the feel of items in your hand, the smell of the paint, the texture of the canvas, and all of the individual aspects.  As you are aware only of your movements in working on the project, distractions will disappear.

Remember, more than anything else, your mind and thoughts are what get you into the zone.  If your thoughts are focused on just doing the tasks, one movement at a time, one stroke at a time and you can place your attention on the details--a dot, a stroke, the color of the paint--when you are able to attend to one moment, one detail at a time, the more your work will flow. The more you practice this intent focus, the more easily and quickly you will get to the Bliss that I call the Art Zone. Not only will you feel fantastic, achieve the benefits of meditation (lowered heart rate, lowered stresses, sometimes even weight loss and other physiological effects), but you'll eventually have a completed piece of artwork.