I’ve tried many ways. I spend a lot of time “Seeing-Drawing” … the wonderful meditative practice I learned from Frederick Franck on one of his retreats and also from his classic The Zen of Seeing. I’ve tried just about every form of visual poetry: color, tone, texture. They were all effective to a degree. Frederick Franck used to assert that the inexpressible was the only thing worth expressing. I took this statement as a koan as I explored ways to express that ineffable quietude.
It wasn’t until my practice distilled down to the essential life-tide of beingness that I approached real stillness, real quietude.
One soft succulent dawn in India I drew my breath.
That was how it began – by just putting down a simple horizontal line every time I exhaled. On the inhalation I paused. Returned to center. Later, when the idea came to use paint instead of pencil, the inhalation became the return to the paint supply as well as to the source. The line drawn, or painted, was as long as the out-breath, or as long as the paint in the brush lasted.
It didn’t take long for the breath to take over. As I gave myself over more freely and openly to its movement it rose up and wrapped itself around me. It picked me up and melted me into its rhythm.
I had entered breath’s temple of quietude and I was nowhere to be found.
There was only this … breath-breathing Beingness.