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This essay analyzes the performance of dhikr (the invocation of God through prayer, sons, and movement) in Aleppo, Syria, as an embodied practice mediated by specific repertoires of aesthetic and kinesthetic practices. In dhikr, aesthetic stimuli produce an experience of temporal transformation that participants narrate as "ecstasy." Performing dhikr also conditions a musical self, which in turn allows for the habituation of spiritual states. This suggests the importance of investigating the interface of embodied practices, temporality, and the aesthetics of spiritual practice. (Aesthetics, temporality, music, Islam, Syria).
Zotero Collections: Islamic Contemplation

Publisher's description: Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art documents the growing presence of Buddhist perspectives in contemporary culture. This shift began in the nineteenth century and is now pervasive in many aspects of everyday experience. In the arts especially, the increasing importance of process over product has promoted a profound change in the relationship between artist and audience. But while artists have been among the most perceptive interpreters of Buddhism in the West, art historians and critics have been slow to develop the intellectual tools to analyze the impact of Buddhist concepts. This timely, multi-faceted volume explores the relationships between Buddhist practice and the contemporary arts in lively essays by writers from a range of disciplines and in revealing interviews with some of the most influential artists of our time. Elucidating the common ground between the creative mind, the perceiving mind, and the meditative mind, the contributors tackle essential questions about the relationship of art and life. Among the writers are curators, art critics, educators, and Buddhist commentators in psychology, literature, and cognitive science. They consider the many Western artists today who recognize the Buddhist notion of emptiness, achieved through focused meditation, as a place of great creative potential for the making and experiencing of art. The artists featured in the interviews, all internationally recognized, include Maya Lin, Bill Viola, and Ann Hamilton. Extending earlier twentieth-century aesthetic interests in blurring the boundaries of art and life, the artists view art as a way of life, a daily practice, in ways parallel to that of the Buddhist practitioner. Their works, woven throughout the book, richly convey how Buddhism has been both a source for and a lens through which we now perceive art.

Professor George has ventured into a comparatively unchartered area seeking, as he does, to explore the art and concept of performance in Buddhism -- more specially in the context of Buddhist meditation and theatre. Spelling out the epistemology of performance in all its different connotations and definitional nuances, his study opens out an astonishingly vast panorama of the Buddhist theatrical practices in Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Nepal, Tibet . . . and goes on to demonstrate how, within this panorama, three kinds of theatrical practice can be identified, each corresponding to one of the three paths open to a Buddhist: the karma path, the Bodhisattva option, and enlightenment, and each representative of one of the three main cultures of Buddhism -- the Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana. Supported by extensive endnotes and bibliographic references, Dr. George's book also carries a range of case studies of the art of performance in Buddhism, with definitive examples, among others, of the Sri Lankan Kandy dance and Karma drama, Tibetan Chams and Chod, and Japanese Noh.

Recently, there is a growing interest in meditation as an attentional and emotional regulatory strategy. To examine whether meditative practice is associated with successful emotion regulation, we examined the neurophysiological correlates of cognitive reappraisal in practitioners of a yogic meditative technique and controls. Participants were presented aversive pictures and were asked to cognitively change their appraisal of the affective meaning of the pictures by coming up with an alternative more positive interpretation of each picture. We found reduced magnitude of Event-Related Potentials (P300 and early time intervals of the late positive potential, LPP) following cognitive reappraisal of aversive pictures in both groups. However, in the yogic group, reduced magnitude was sustained during the later intervals of the LPP, while it subsided in the control group. Moreover, reduced amplitude of the late LPP correlated positively with experience of the technique. Results suggest a relation between yogic meditative practice and sustained attenuation of emotional response following emotion regulation. Increased positive affect and familiarity with cognitive emotion regulation in the yogic group may explain this effect. Whether this is a direct causal effect of the practice or can be attributed to characteristics of the participants that preexisted the training needs further examination in a randomized longitudinal study. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

This project involves developing syllabi for two courses, an introduction to American Studies and an English Department senior seminar. It focuses on nature writers-not only literary authors, but natural and social scientists-who are also contemplatives: Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Barry Lopez, Gary Snyder, Richard Nelson, Terry Tempest Williams, Linda Hogan and others. Themes explored in these texts include dwelling, home and universe, comparative traditions, science, travel, the lessons of history, embodiment, ecofeminism, green movements and environmental justice, and imaginative versions of landscape by the privileged juxtaposed to the lived experience of the disempowered. Since contemplation of nature is what most nature writers in fact do, students involve themselves as well in contemplative practice. They begin each class period with meditation as a centering exercise; write contemplative journal entries on their readings; and reflect deeply on these entries and turn them into papers. Further, the act of contemplation for nature writers does not end in solitude, but in emergence in a connection to the world. To this end, there is a community service component in these courses, compulsory in the introductory course and voluntary in the senior seminar.

Contemplative landscape and contemplative space are familiar terms in the areas of design, landscape architecture and architecture. Krinke and her highly regarded contributors set out to explore definitions, theories, and case studies of contemplative landscapes. The contributors, Marc Treib, John Beardsley, Michael Singer, Lance Neckar, Heinrich Hermann and Rebecca Krinke have spent their careers researching, critiquing, and making landscapes. Here they investigate the role of contemplative space in a post-modern world and examine the impact of nature and culture on the design or interpretation of contemplative landscapes.The essays, drawn from both scholarship and personal experience explore the links between spaces designed to provide health benefits and contemplative space.

Illustrates certain commonalities between creative problem solving and Zen koan study. The koan is a type of question used in Zen meditation to help a disciple attain spiritual enlightenment. Both involve the following: (a) extinguishing prior interfering approaches, (b) satiation effects resulting from prolonged concentration, (c) unification of contradictory events, (d) more right than left brain hemispheric functioning, and (e) common psychological processes. Both situations share the stages of preparation, incubation, illumination, and evaluation. The stages of preparation and evaluation are seen as necessary but often overlooked aspects of the overall process. In the illumination stage, the experiences of solving a problem or a koan both have the qualities of suddenness and unexpectedness. The incubation stage involves a turning away from direct attacks on the problem; realization of the solution results from the occurrence of a seemingly unrelated event. (14 ref)

Research in mindfulness-based methods with young people is just emerging in the practice/research literature. While much of this literature describes promising approaches that combine mindfulness with cognitive-behavioral therapy, this paper describes an innovative research-based group program that teaches young people in need mindfulness-based methods using arts-based methods. The paper presents qualitative research findings that illustrate how young people in need (children and youth involved with child protection and/or mental health systems) can benefit from a creative approach to mindfulness that can teach them emotional regulation, social and coping skills, and that can improve aspects of their self-awareness, self-esteem, and resilience.

Randomized, controlled studies have documented positive physical and psychological effects of writing about traumatic stress. Some of these studies have shown that individual differences play an important role, with participants responding differently to the intervention based on their personal characteristics. In the present expressive writing experiment, the trait of mindfulness was examined as a potential moderator. Seventy-six undergraduates were randomly assigned to either expressive writing (n = 37) or a control group (n = 39). Main effects favoring expressive writing were found, and these were qualified by significant interactions with mindfulness. Specifically, individuals with higher mindfulness scores responded better to expressive writing, experiencing greater physical and psychological benefits than individuals with lower mindfulness scores.
Zotero Collections: Contexts of Contemplation Project

Spirituality is becoming an increasingly significant aspect of contemporary art education theory. The manner in which one conceives of holistic art education curricula is partially shaped by one's understanding of a more spiritual approach to reflective thinking and practice in teacher education. Definitions of reflective practice and spirituality, as they are interwoven in art, are provided. Focally, the results of research on artist/teachers and the manifestation of spiritual reflective practice are presented in conjunction with the implications of those research results for preservice art education.

"The practice of contemplation is one of the great spiritual arts," writes Martin Laird in A Sunlit Absence. "Not a technique but a skill, it harnesses the winds of grace that lead us out into the liberating sea of silence." In this companion volume to his bestselling Into the Silent Land, Laird focuses on a quality often overlooked by books on Christian meditation: a vast and flowing spaciousness that embraces both silence and sound, and transcends all subject/object dualisms. Drawing on the wisdom of great contemplatives from St. Augustine and St. Teresa of Avila to St. Hesychios, Simone Weil, and many others, Laird shows how we can uncover the deeper levels of awareness that rest within us like buried treasure waiting to be found. The key insight of the book is that as our practice matures, so will our experience of life's ordeals, sorrows, and joys expand into generous, receptive maturity. We learn to see whatever difficulties we experience in meditation--boredom, lethargy, arrogance, depression, grief, anxiety--not as obstacles to be overcome but as opportunities to practice surrender to what is. With clarity and grace Laird shows how we can move away from identifying with our turbulent, ever-changing thoughts and emotions to the cultivation of a "sunlit absence"--the luminous awareness in which God's presence can most profoundly be felt. Addressed to both beginners and intermediates on the pathless path of still prayer, A Sunlit Absence offers wise guidance on the specifics of contemplative practice as well as an inspiring vision of the purpose of such practice and the central role it can play in our spiritual lives.

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