What is Artful Contemplation?

Artful Contemplation is an online hub and sanctuary that integrates curiosity and contemplation in a daily mindfulness practice. It was founded in 2019 by two South Africans who recognize the pivotal role of the Arts in expanding our awareness, empathy and meaning-making sense. Artful Contemplation is the culmination of 45 years of shared exploration into embodiment, improvisation, live performance, meditation and artistic expression.  

Revitalize your imagination

Artful Contemplation understands the multi-dimensional and unique nature of everyone’s sense-making capacity. It honors the role that curiosity, awe, mind-wandering or thoughtful musing play in stilling overly intellectual mental processing. 

Actress Goldie Hawn, founder of the Hawn Foundation and MindUp, in promoting mindfulness as key to our fulfillment and flourishing in the world, states that “imagination is pivotal to this journey”. 

Without the capacity for imagination, we would not be able to visualise, we would not be able empathise, we would not be able to reflect on ourselves.

Goldie Hawn, 2017

Artful Contemplation is intentionally designed to revitalize your capacity for non-conceptual seeing, to nurture your unique symbolic language and reveal the interconnections within your daily experiences. Awareness of the ways in which you receive, select and arrange information is critical in a contemporary environment saturated with disparate and often contradictory narratives. It becomes increasingly important to make clear, authentic and creative choices in your daily work and play. 

…during the process of bringing something original and meaningful into this world there are times when you want to think divergently and generate lots of possibilities [and] times when you want to focus more intensely on a single idea and help it grow and develop.

Scott Barry Kaufman, 2016

The senses engaged by Artful Contemplation include both the ordinary – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste – and the extra-sensory or non-ordinary – intuition, insight, feeling, perception, resonance and memory. Mindfulness is appreciated as an intentional practice embedded in every waking moment. 

Reclaim your creative sovereignty

Our daily need to integrate diversified and expanding personal capacities increases in proportion to the speed, intensity and complexity of our life. If you live in a densely populated area, interact with a multitude of people, engage in public events, are active on social media platforms, and read, watch or listen to multiple forms of media, then you are consuming more information than you can easily digest. More information than you can easily integrate into a meaningful and coherent view of the world. How do we make decisions and act with integrity when so many possibilities exist?

Artful Contemplation honors individual life experience as an unfolding artwork. It recognizes true artistry as dependent on: channels of direct experience, space and time to flourish on its own terms, support for emerging strategies and the formulation of a symbolic language that is unique and original. Mindfulness is commonly accepted as the ability to anchor one’s attention on what is unfolding – to be present in each moment. This requires the ability to intentionally and fluidly switch attention between ways of seeing and being. 

Mindfulness involves the ability to anchor one’s attention on what is occurring…and the ability to intentionally switch attention from one aspect of experience to another.

Frontiers in Psychology

How does it work?

Artful Contemplation uses the power of Art to support a daily practice of learning to focus and shift attention. Through the online hub and resources, you can harness your capacity for daily mindfulness by integrating the dual processes of open-monitoring meditation and focused-attention meditation. Opportunities to slow down and settle in are provided, as well as catalysts for curious play and expansive thought. 

Artful Contemplation is:

  • A daily practice inviting both curious expansion and quiet introspection.
  • An online sanctuary and hub embedded in Facebook.
  • A community of members practicing mindfulness. 
  • A digital resource that can be readily accessed and utilized.
  • An archive of 500+ contemplative artworks.
  • A product and service provider, offering customizable resources and items.

Artful Contemplation is designed to integrate with the rhythms and requirements of a contemporary lifestyle. It offers a practice of mindful observation through the technologies and digital devices that have become integral and indispensable to our daily activities. In this way, Artful Contemplation functions as a Sadhana.

Sadhanas are practices that help us to live more mindfully by integrating our spiritual life and our “normal every day experiences” thus creating a lifestyle filled with meaning, connection and well-being.

SACRED ARTS RESEARCH

In Sanskrit, a Sadhana allows a routine surrendering of ego through a dedicated daily practice. “Keeping a sadhana allows practitioners to align one’s inner self each new day” (Yogapedia)

In some practices, an individual worships a formed image as a mediate step to the worship of a formless principle. Other practices include chanting, yoga or meditation. The ultimate goal of a Sadhana is not to master the practice or to identify with the contemplative image but to use them as tools towards dissolving the holding patterns that lead to frustration, disease and discomfort in our personal lives.

Subscribe to join the Artful Contemplation community and receive one e-mantra weekly. You also gain access to the Artful Contemplation Facebook group where discussions and resources on mindfulness are made readily available.

You may already be practiced in sitting meditation. And you may enjoy viewing or creating art. Artful Contemplation brings these contemplative practices together in a powerful mindfulness experience that extends beyond language and concept.

By using a single, non-representational contemplative artwork as the focus of attention, our daily Artful Contemplation prompts invite an imaginative, intuitive response.

The powerful image is combined with an intentional verbal statement or affirmation to invite curiosity and contemplation. With practice, the dual processes of wondering and wandering, allow arising thoughts, feelings and associations to cohere. 

The intentional dialogue between what you pay attention to and how you feel in the moment offers personal healing, integration and illumination.

How do I get started?

Subscribe to join the Artful Contemplation community and receive one e-mantra weekly. You also gain access to the Artful Contemplation Facebook group where discussions and resources on mindfulness are made readily available.

1. Sign up as a member of our Facebook group here: Sign up

2. Search through the archive of available prompts on this site here: Daily Artful Contemplations

3. Read more about mindfulness practice here: Mindfulness practice through training trees