How is art spiritual?

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.
— Kurt Vonnegut

There are as many ways to be spiritual or create a spiritual practice. Rituals, ceremonies, organized traditional religion all the way to mindfulness while doing dishes are ways that people have found to connect to something beyond themselves.

I think, for me, spiritual practice is just that… connecting to something beyond ourselves. I don’t mean outside ourselves though. I believe this source lives within us as well as all around us. It is us and it is more than us.

So how do we “practice” something that we just ARE or is always with us? It isn’t so much a practice of being good enough to see it or pure enough to feel it. It is about getting out of thought, out of meaning, out of rational thinking and just being.

You wouldn’t think we should need to practice just “being”. We are alive so we are being, right? Yes, but when you think about what is going on in your mind in the course of a day we are bouncing around from our past to our future and muddling through our present. We base our current state on what we worry will happen, or still carry on about that has happened. If we let all past thought and future thought go, that is when we are actually “being”. If this exact moment you are reading this you were fully present you would feel… what? Notice what? You would feel and notice the sensations in your body, the air in your lungs, the space around you. You would notice the infinite possibilities of everything that is and could occur in that moment.

This is why we must practice being. We drift so easily with our thoughts that we are constantly carried from past to future to present to past without even noticing. When you can tune into being who you fully are in the present without all that thought and emotion you get a glimpse at everything that we really are.

I choose to do this through art. When I am creating or moving paint around I access what psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi calls flow and gives you the feeling of timeless expansion into yourself.

Sounds huge or impossible until you get that first glimpse. You can’t explain it but you suddenly feel that connection to something greater. You feel a force within you that is you but somehow greater.

This is what we practice. This is what fills our souls. This is what we keep coming back for and inventing new ways to glimpse it. This is why I create art and call it my spiritual practice. Try my Meditations in Watercolor free mini-ebook and see if you can sense what I am talking about.

Jane BureshComment