How to practice artful curiosity and contemplation

Curiosity and contemplation are the twin fuels of life. As children we experience the world as wonder-filled. A child’s eyes sparkle with delight and their fingers tingle with excitement. There is so much to discover because things have not been named, labelled or neatly boxed.

Curiosity and contemplation are the twin fuels of life. Culture has a way of containing curiosity and diminishing contemplation. Artful Contemplation offers an integrated daily mindfulness practice.
Artful Contemplation provokes playful curiosity and deep contemplation

Inviting the unknown

When something unknown is discovered, a child will generally prod it, poke it and probe for more information. Either in action (a stick will do the trick) or in contemplation. We all recognize the image of the child who asks insistently: “Why?” “How?” “What?” And a parent’s fumbling attempt to offer a logical, reasonable explanation.

Occasionally we capture the same twinkle of curiosity and delight in the eyes of an adult, when for a brief moment someone allows them to drop their daily concerns. Or something surprises them into seeing the world differently.

Their usual “that’s just the way things are” is replaced by a state of wide-eyed wonder. Words elude them. Clear thoughts escape them. This state of rapture and receptivity is often associated with falling in love or encountering an object of desire.

Culture has a way of containing curiosity and diminishing contemplation. Templates and directives give us the answer before we ask a question. Rules and norms define the edges of the territory before we have even set out on the journey.

Schooling demands that we listen repeatedly to how things are. Moral teachings tell us repeatedly how things should or could be. Our capacity to judge what is good and right for us in the present moment is diminished.

We come to forget what moves us. The edge of our curiosity becomes dulled. Our gateway to reverie becomes overgrown.

A new way of seeing

An artwork created for Artful Contemplation that promotes deepened contemplation through inviting open-ended looking and personalized interpretation.
Art for contemplation by Lanon Prigge

Pause for a moment.

Notice your breathing.

Feel the texture of the chair you are sitting on.

Become aware of your feet making contact with the ground.

Let your eyes dwell on the artwork above.

Let your eyes wander.

Follow a line. Chase after a contour. Dive into a pool of color.

No rush.

Only looking, lingering, attending.

Now, let your mind dwell on the questions below.

Let your mind wonder.

  • What captures your attention?
  • Which area appeals to your eye?
  • What makes you feel uncomfortable?
  • Is there a spot you could call home?
  • Is there a place you would seek sanctuary?

Notice your breathing once again.

Ask: “Who is looking at this image?”

Beyond culture

Culture does not only refer to large-scale community practices. Even as a highly individualized and independent person, you will find yourself feeling the pressure of cultural conformity. Culture is the grouping of ideas and behaviors with certain predefined expectations and morally-loaded outcomes.

Culture can arise anywhere. It can occur between a group of friends or within a small family. It determines an exchange between two individuals. You can exert it on yourself.

This means we all run the risk of getting caught up in cultural stories. We limit our perception and enjoyment of life when we repeatedly identify with certain characters and events. The truly inspirational answers we seek to meet our highly individualized needs become filtered, obscured.

Contemplation begins at the limit of our observations. This artwork honors the liberated human imagination and invites deep curiosity into the nature of our cultural conditioning. The artwork is titled Deep programming from The Mind the Matrix Collection by Lanon Carl Prigge.
An artwork inviting deep enquiry into the nature of our cultural conditioning from The Mind the Matrix Collection by metascape artist Lanon Prigge.

Contemplation begins at the limit of our observations.

Peter ralston

Nature-inspired curiosity and contemplation

There is no doubt that spending time in untamed nature is a catalyst for our curiosity and contemplation. Mages, artists, philosophers, poets, shamans and seekers throughout time have recognized this. Nature reflects the dual forces of persistent change and constant pattern – a harmony made up of infinite variables.

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect”, observes Alice Walker. We are reminded of our own nature, and connection to forces beyond our intellectual comprehension, when we wander through a wilderness. Our awareness is at once heightened and soothed. We feel both uplifted and grounded.

Nature brings us to our senses. And our senses are a direct line to curiosity and delight.

Art invites curiosity and contemplation

Certain art has the power to inspire curiosity and activate our personal sense-making ability. As Ken Wilber points out, “Conventional art is an expression of the self or world as it is now. Transcendental Art expresses something that you are not yet but that you can become“.

Art is contemplation. It is the pleasure of the mind which searches into nature and which there divines the spirit of which nature herself is animated.

auguste rodin

Transcendental art, visionary art, sacred art and intuitive art taps into the invisible currents and implicit energies that shape our known world. By entering a state of receptivity and mindfulness, the artist gains access to these realms beyond the looking eye and finds symbols and images to translate what is happening at a rate and intensity beyond the usual range of our common eye and rational minds. This is art that draws both artist and viewer into a practice of mindfulness.

Slow looking, deep discoveries

In our current technological age, we have grown accustomed to images flashing before our eyes continuously. We need to slow down to enter the frame of opportunity being offered by a still image. When we do, the benefits of activating our curiosity and deepening our contemplation are far-reaching.

If we…simply encounter the work as direct experience in the ‘here and now’, we can enter into a dialogue…that points to a more authentic encounter.

gill crabbe

Remember the child’s insistent “Why?” This question gets asked of anything and everything. The question is asked as a means to enhance and enlarge the child’s world. The child can take another step into the unknown when the question is answered with a resounding echo. Life remains inviting, open-ended.

We are all seeking a purpose-filled life. Deep down we know we are worthy, we know we are a unique being. We want to feel empowered to extract personal value and pleasure from our daily activities and encounters. We long to live permanently with wide-eyed wonder.

Artful Contemplation as a daily practice

Artful Contemplation is a gentle reminder of our intrinsic capacity to explore the infinite realms of perception. It invites questions that do not demand a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Daily Artful Contemplation practice offers prompts, musings and reminders that open up worlds of potential and dimensions of possibility.

Manipulating light and color are the essence of digital artistry. Artful Contemplation employs this artistic power to activate curiosity and contemplation, the twin fuels of a meaning-filled life.

Have you experienced a direct encounter through art? Feel free to share your insights.

Are you interested in enhancing your mindfulness practice? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for curiosity and contemplation prompts.

Samantha Prigge
Chat to me
Latest posts by Samantha Prigge (see all)
Stay connected & follow our mindfulness journey:

Published by Samantha Prigge

We are each on a unique unfolding path called Life. Art, improvisation and mindfulness are ways of keeping connected to our creative source and available to impulses for flourishing.

Share your insights and observations

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: