Even though creativity has been a part of my life since my childhood, I was unprepared for the parallel I discovered when I began studying Buddhism. As I became familiar with the practice and methods of developing mindfulness, I found myself recognizing an old friend: drawing.
Like a clear bell tolling a resounding verity, I discovered that the quality of presence I regularly experience in my studio when I am in the process of putting pigment to paper and paint to surface is mindfulness. The true attention that creativity requires—the presence that is pure and undistracted—is the same true attention that the cushion requires. Until I began studying Buddhism, I had never encountered another instance of this beyond the studio. The revelation deepened not only my practice, but also my creativity.
Now I use what naturally comes to me in the studio on the cushion, and extend it (when I’m skillful) into my days and nights. I realize that what is compelling in my work is the same thing that is compelling in my practice; they are one and the same.