Posted in Bardo News, General Interest, Islam, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Poets/Writers, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

BARDO NEWS: Blessings on Ramadan; “Begin Again” blog expands its writer base and gets funding; artfully eco-friendly . . ….

Islamic Center of the U.S. in Washington by agnosicpreachers kid under CC BY-SA 3.o license
Islamic Center of the U.S. in Washington by agnosicpreachers kid under CC BY-SA 3.o license

BEST WISHES to our Moslem contributors, readers and friends all over the globe on this: the first day of Ramadan. ~ During this month, 1.6 million Muslims – or 23% of the world population according to Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project – observe a strict fast if they are of an age and healthy enough to do so. The fast extends each day from sunrise to sunset. The month-long fasting ends with a feasting celebration, Eid al-Fitr (the breaking of the fast), which falls on 28 July this year.

Britain’s David Cameron has this to say:

Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair!

May everyday find you in good health!

Kazim Ali (b. 1971) American poet
Kazim Ali (b. 1971) American poet (c) Kazim Ali

CELEBRATING POET, NOVELIST, ESSAYIST and EDUCATOR, KAZIM ALI ~  who was born in the UK, is from an Indian Islamic household, and was educated at State University of New York (SUNY) and at New York University. Currently he lives in Oregon.

Of his most recent poetry collection, The Fortieth Day, the Library Journal review says that Ali …

“continues his task of creating a rejuvenated language that longs to be liberated from the weight of daily routine and the power of dogmatic usage . . . writing in the tradition of Wallace Stevens, Ali is clearly a poet of ideas and symbols, yet his words remain living entities within the texture of the poem.”


Of his essay collection, Fasting for Ramadan, Notes on Spiritual Practice, Tupelo Press states …

“Kazim Ali’s searching descriptions of the Ramadan sensibility and its arduous but liberating annual rite of communal fasting is sure to be a revelation to many readers — intellectually illuminating and aesthetically exhilarating.

“Fasting for Ramadan is structured as a chronicle of daily meditations, during two cycles of the 30-day rite of daytime abstinence required by Ramadan for purgation and prayer. Estranged in certain ways from his family’s cultural traditions when he was younger, Ali has in recent years re-embraced the Ramadan ritual, and brings to this rediscovery an extraordinary delicacy of reflection, a powerfully inquiring mind, and the linguistic precision and ardor of a superb poet.”

Unknown-8Ali’s poem Ramadan is from his collection, The Fortieth Day.

You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s

nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
The liturgy begins to echo itself and why does it matter?

If the ground-water is too scarce one can stretch nets
into the air and harvest the fog.

Hunger opens you to illiteracy,
thirst makes clear the starving pattern,

the thick night is so quiet, the spinning spider pauses,
the angel stops whispering for a moment—

The secret night could already be over,
you will have to listen very carefully—

You are never going to know which night’s mouth is sacredly reciting
and which night’s recitation is secretly mere wind—

– Kazim Ali
“Ramadan” except from The Fortieth Day. © 2008 by Kazim Ali, posted here under fair use

“Poetry is the smallest way – it is a small, small way, but it is a way indeed – that the individual body can express its own personhood and value in the face of faceless systems.” Kazim Ali

Terri Stewart
Terri Stewart (c) Terri

TERRI STEWART REPORTS on the expansion of Begin Again, the blog she started and hosts ~ “First news, welcome Bruce Chittick to the team of writers! Woot!! He will bring an awesome perspective to Sundays and inspiration. I can’t wait to get to know his writing. I experience him to be a thoughtful, gracious, inclusive kind of guy. His first post went live on the 22nd!

“And, in other exciting news, we got some funding. The United Methodist Church, in an expansive move towards trying new things (although we aren’t exactly NEW) has decided to fund my position at BeguineAgain.com AND all the technology for the next year and a half. This gives me & us time to build a class & subscription base to move towards an independent funding mechanism. This is awesome on so many counts. They know what we have been publishing and are willing to sit in that tension. Amazeballs! And it also lets the pressure off of me regarding all the work I am doing to create alternate funding mechanisms for my own family’s subsistence. Whew. Chaplaincy pays like zero. It is being billed as an online spiritual community. Very vague.

” … I can’t wait to try some of the new technology that will be available now that I can upgrade us to WordPress pro!”

Rose at Dusk (c) Jamie Dedes
Rose at Dusk (c)  Jamie Dedes

ARTFULLY ECO-FRIENDLY

Dutch Nature Artist, PAULA KUITENBROUWER (Mindful Drawing) ~ a long-standing member of The Bardo Group and a contributor to the blog has sent out a call to all of us  – team members, bloggers and friends – to initiate discussions of how and why we are living and working in an eco-conscious ways and how we can use our art and our blogs to encourage environmentally sound practices. Paula shares on her Guilt-Free Art Page …

“My original drawings are drawn on acid free paper. In the process of making acid free paper fewer corrosive chemicals are used, which makes acid free paper significantly environmentally friendlier than normal paper.

“For packing my fine art cards and reproductions, I use biodegradable plastic. I like my art work to be as environmentally friendly as possible and I select my products carefully. My paint-brushes are synthetic without animal hair.”

Other eco-friendly living practices that might be shared would include the ways in which we order our lives to enable no-or-minimal use of cars, mindful shopping (buying only what we need and buying from bulk containers rather than packaged items, buying locally produced food and other products), using biodegradable cleaning products and reusable shopping bags. Yes! All this and how about telling us about your advocacy efforts?

We invite you share your thoughts on this in the comments section here, on your own blogs (then leave us a link under any current post so that we can publicize it in the next Bardo News) or as submissions to The Bardo Group blog this month. (If you are not a core-team member, please email us at  bardogroup@gmail.com.)

Coming up:

… and many more goodies from our Core Team, readers and guests. This month’s guests will include:

Poet K.A. Brace (The Mirror Obscura) and Jewelry-Maker, Writer, Photographer Isadora (Inside the Mind of Isadora)

bardogroup@gmail.com

The Bardo Group Facebook Page

In the spirit of peace, love and community,

THE BARDO GROUP

Posted in Art, Beauty, Essay, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Spiritual Practice

Empty Space as an Aesthetic Significance

I’ve read an intriguing quote in Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat by Naomi Moriyama;

‘The importance of ‘empty’ space in the presentation of Japanese cuisine can scarcely be exaggerated. Receptacles are never filled to the brim, but are left with a certain margin of emptiness- emptiness of an aesthetic significance comparable to that in a Zen ink painting‘.

(Chef Masaru Yammamoto).

Considering the importance of empty space is what I do when I draw or paint. Often an empty space is needed to guide the viewer to the place that needs his attention. Other times, empty space is filled with suspense. Because empty space can create guidance, tension and calm contemplation, it is full of possibility.

Isn’t possibility what emptiness is? The emptiness or absence of sound means a bird can fill it with its song. Emptiness as possibility works in compositions exactly the same. An empty place can be filled in or left open.

It is important to notice what exists in an empty space. If I paint a bird on the left side of my drawing looking at the right, what is the bird looking at? The empty space isn’t empty at all. It is full of possibilities. Is the bird looking at a mate? Or a prowling cat? Not filling up an empty space often works well; it adds more possibility, tension or imagination to a painting. Other times a large empty space is too dominating or too much a void, in that case, doing something with it is better. It is a place that offers calm contemplation, leave it open.

If you are a home educator, don’t teach you child that the whole page or canvas needs to be filled in. (The only reason why you should offer an art assignment in which nobody is allowed to leave the class room before his paper is completely covered, is when your students need to overcome shyness, self restrained, or inhibition).

If you are a creative therapist or an understanding friend, sit down with your client or friend, and analyse his doodle or drawing by asking what is going on in its empty space. Talk, investigate, and dream together. You will be surprised how many possibilities or interpretations will emerge.

If you are a parent and your young child is proudly showing you a painting, play with your child. Ask what is going on with the objects that are drawn, and what is happening within the empty space. Then built a story on what the child tells you. Your child will charm and entertain you with pure child fantasies. Empty spaces are full possibilities.

You thought empty space is boring or shows a lack of imagination? Or a bad composition? Certainly not always, often quite the opposite.

Returning to the book on Japanese food; I always dread the moment when I have to stop drawing in order to prepare a dinner. From now on, I will plan to continue my mindful meditation by bringing aesthetic principles into my kitchen.

– Paula Kuitenbrouwer

© 2013, essay and photographs and artwork (above and below), Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

birdcardsPAULA KUITENBROUWER ~ is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and a Dutch nature artist living in The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website.   In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. You can view her portfolio of mindful drawings HERE.

Posted in Art, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Spiritual Practice

Mindfully Drinking Jasmine Tea

2013-05-09-at-11-02-47

To drink your Jasmine tea with awareness, you might like to….

220px-jasminum_sambac_grand_duke_of_tuscany

….admire the origin of your tea, the Jasmine shrub with its white flowers.

You can spend some thoughts on how the shrub lived and bloomed, and how the flowers smell. Your tea is scented with Jasmine flowers; do you see the whitish leaves? If you have bought Jasmine pearls, you could appreciate how they unfold.

200px-jasmine_pearls

Sniff the relaxing scent of Jasmine. Does this bring back memories? Happy memories? Do you like to let go something before you will enjoy your tea? Feel the warm tea mug and enjoy the drinking. Thoughts, scent, and taste…observe them all.

Do you get distracted or is your tea finished? Feel the tranquillizing effect of your mindful tea session by being grateful for this mindful moment.

mg_3971

2011-12-12-at-14-20-04

What are your thoughts on Jasmine tea and mindfully drinking scented tea? Is Jasmine growing in your garden? Have you painted its flowers? I invite you to add your link in the comment section.

– Paula Kuitenbrouwer

© 2013, essay and photographs and artwork (above and below), Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

birdcardsPAULA KUITENBROUWER ~ is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and a Dutch nature artist living in The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website.   In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. You can view her portfolio of mindful drawings HERE.

Posted in Art, Meditation, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Spiritual Practice

Mindfulness in the 1600s

the work of Paula Kuitenbrouwer, a reblog of one of Paula’s Sonnetagsfreude – or Sunday Happiness – posts, which are an initiative of Maria at Kreativeberg.  …Enjoy!

61onuaotpol-_sl500_

brother-lawrence

A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra for my daughter, and for me The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Sunday Happiness* is about finding time to read. Our society slows down; we all get some time for reflection.

My daughter explores the mysterious world of herbs with this magical, herbal workbook. It is about making your own healing potions, secret remedies, and magical salves.

My book is about mindful meditation.
Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 1600s, promised himself he would live day and night, in good and bad times, in God. He spent many years practising the presence of God in his life. His key to this practice was that he strove to be consciously aware of God’s presence at all times, which seems a perfect synonymy of (Christian) mindfulness.
.
To me it means that with everything I do, I ask myself if I’m acting in the best consciousness and ethical conscientiousness. With means, I need to be aware and practice self-discipline, carefulness, and thoroughness. It is very easy to wander away from awareness and thoroughness, like with any meditation. If this happens, I bring myself back into the presence of God. It is a wonderful meditation, but not an easy one. Having said that, the more you do this, the longer the stretches of time of being in God, or being mindful, do occur.
.
I started to read this tiny book months ago, and I do return to it often, because Brother Lawrence’s promise still inspires. To purposefully enjoy God’s presence, or mindfulness, in your life, is like opening up to small miracles. Pouring tea becomes a meditation and so does watering the flowers on the balcony. It is still a bit hard to feel the presence of God while paying bills (and all others worldly and bureaucratic chores ), but to stay mindful, to stay open for the presence of God non stop is what it is about. And when I succeed, I feel a happy appreciation for the smallest things in life.

masterpiecejunebig_1920259a

Rembrandt’s master work of his son, Titus van Rijn, in a monk’s habit

Is this book only for Christians? Not at all. I recommend it to all people who are interested in the spiritual life. It is about mindfulness in the 1600s.

Thich Nhat Hanh says, in one of his many books that I’ve read, that if you need the address of God, he will give it to you; it is Here and Now. Brother Lawrence would probably have said: God’s address is being in the presence of God.

Namaste,
Paula

© 2013, essay and photographs/artwork (below), Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

birdcardsPAULA KUITENBROUWER ~ is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and a Dutch nature artist living in The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website.   In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. You can view her portfolio of mindful drawings HERE.

Posted in Art, Essay, Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Peaceful easel

the work of Paula Kuitenbrouwer

easelI feel gleeful looking at my easel …

rembrandt-artist-in-his-studio

Rembrandt seems peaceful watching the canvas on his easel…

vr_12_12_p31_klimt-atelier-new_web-620x413

On the easel of Gustav Klimt are the paintings he dreamt…

The word ‘easel’ is an old Germanic synonym for donkey. In the Latin ‘Asinus’, we hear ‘ass’ (donkey).
An easel supports a canvas or painting. It is a humble piece of furniture; a few horizontal and vertical pieces of wood nailed together. Its plainness and instrumentality earned it its name ‘easel’ (i.e. donkey). An easel isn’t pretty nor noble, it carries our stuff like a donkey carries our stuff too.
.
It is said the easel was used by Egyptians. It took a long time before frescos and murals lost their glamour and artists started to work with painting boards and canvasses. Fast forward to the Renaissance, we see mobile easels changing dramatically the way painters work. Artists abandon their studios to work in the open air, catching the light, movement of the water, the clouds and waving grasses like no one has done before. The easel helps to create individual artists and new painting styles. Despite its achievements, its name has never been upgraded. Easels never look proud. To me they look often a tiny bit tragic and tired, like overloaded donkeys.

What are your thoughts on your easel?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

© 2013, essay and photographs, Paula Kuitenbrower, All rights reserved

paulabirdcardsPAULA KUITENBROUWER ~ is a Dutch nature artist living in The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website.   In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. You can view her portfolio of mindful drawings HERE.

Posted in Contributing Writer, Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Mindful Drawing to Me

p3237471

the work of Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Many of us know what mindfulness is, but what is mindfully drawing? How can a beginner start with mindfully drawing?

In ‘The Zen of Seeing, seeing/drawing as meditation’, Frederick Franck describes drawing as ‘The Way of Seeing’, as a way of meditation, a way of getting into intimate touch with the visible world around us, and through it…with ourselves’.

That is how I view mindfully drawing too. But there is more. In ‘The Zen of Seeing’, Franck is not concerned about the end product. I am, but I don’t feel this concern is impeding my drawing meditation. I carefully prepare my drawing session by laying out all the tools. I think long about what I want, and I pay attention to the composition. I also do research, because I like to know what I am drawing. When I draw a bird, I study that bird in real as well as with the helps of books. When I draw a flower, I have it seen in nature or it is right before me on my table. I read about the flower, and I like to study and know its Latin name. The same counts for bugs: I do not draw any bug I haven’t seen or studied. I need a connection of seeing and knowing my object. Only then I can picture my object in a habitat, a scene, and give it a proper background and let my drawing tell a (short) story that is accurate.

Click on the drawing to see it enlarged.

Mindfully drawing is an active meditation. It keeps my hands busy but it brings a calm mind. That is because when I draw, I open my eye and my inward eye. My eyes study the objects and my emerging drawing. I am never hurried. Ask me anything during my blissful moments of mindfully drawing and you will get a peaceful and kind answer.

Click on this photograph to see the drawing in progress.

My portfolio of mindful drawings is HERE.

Here are some of my fine arts drawings made into cards.

mg_44141

– Paula Kuitenbrouwer

© 2013, essay, artwork and photographs, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

birdcardsPAULA KUITENBROUWER ~ is a Dutch nature artist living The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website.   In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. She has designed some special cards and gifts for Father’s Day HERE.

Posted in Art, Nature, Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Honoring the Mother

Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Nowhere it says it is only for human mothers, so let’s have a look at two bird-mothers.

baby_birds_hiding_under_mother_wing
The first second I saw this photo, I thought it was gross because the bird looked distorted. However, a serious deformation as having 4 pair of extra feet is a bit too much to take. Close inspection learns that this Common Ringed Plover is sheltering her chicks from the cold wind that can make their habitat, the beach, rather unpleasant. Mummy Ringed Plover will regularly do this till the chicks have replaced their fluffy down with insulating feathers.

Imagine being a chick Ringed Plover and just walking into the warm, insulating plumage of your big mum and having a chat with your siblings. I bet mummy-bird is enjoying this peaceful moment of having all her chicks near her too.

This peaceful moment is a pause in the paradoxical task that characterizes motherhood; mothers have to keep their offspring close to gear them safely in to adulthood, adulthood that is all about growing away from the parents. Keeping them close in order to let them go.

Here is another mummy-bird, shielding her chicks to keep them safe and warm.

70-dove-under-the-wing-from-e-mail

I like to point out that I can’t state for sure that above photos are depicting mums with chicks. The Dove and Common Ringed Plover can be fathers. They can be those excellent fathers that care about their youngsters. Mothering isn’t exclusively done by mothers. Therefore, if Mother’s Day is about mothering, caring and loving, we should celebrate Mother’s Day with all who care, love, and share. And this includes childless couples, cooks, nurses, doctors, and all those who take others under their wings for a cuddle, a dinner, a supporting hug, or a bit of warmth.

– Paula Kuitenbrouwer

© 2013, essay, photographs and artwork, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, All rights reserved

mg_4414paulaPAULA KUITENBROUWER is a Dutch nature artist living The Netherlands and sharing her work with us on her blog, Mindful Drawing and on her website. Paula says, “Mother’s Day is about a hug or a poem. Nothing more is needed. But if gifts are given; flowers express gratitude and love.”  She’s designed a Mother’s Day Gift-set for the 12th of May.You can purchase her art HERE.

In addition to art, Paula’s main interest is philosophy. She studied at the University of Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has lived in Eastern Europe and in Asia. Paula says that in Korea, “my family lived next to a Buddhist temple. In the early morning we would hear the monks chanting. During my hours of sauntering with my daughter through the beautiful temple gardens, I felt a blissful happiness that I try to capture in my drawings.” Paula sometimes teaches children’s art classes. She lives with her husband and daughter and close to her father. We are often honored with and most grateful for the wise and gentle posts from our much-valued Paula.