Teepee Meditation

K. Kauffman, Teepee Meditation, 53″x45″, ink, 2023

In my current virtual exhibition on ink drawings with the Walter Wickiser Gallery in New York which closes May 1st, Teepee Meditation illustrates several essential aspects of meditation that are most important to me. A triangular teepee-like shape surrounds the central meditating figure, portraying the feeling I have in deep meditation of being closely held and surrounded by sacred energies.

The outlined seated human shape exists in two strata: an outlined form on top of a figure densely filled with closely drawn ink lines. For me, meditation is a layered experience. In the first level, a light meditation, many thoughts flit around my mind. I look at each one, detach my ego from it as best I can, allow it to drift away and continue to meditate. When I repeat this effort, the number of thoughts lessen. I represent this process as an outlined seated figure because it’s a necessary, but preliminary meditation experience, compared to what follows. 

As my thoughts disperse and I tune into my inner self more and more, I perceive what feels like pervasive tiny vibrations within and around me. In my drawing, the highly textured ink lines within the figure and outside of it denote the busy, yet gentle and repetitive feelings of liveliness I perceive when I meditate. Perhaps, I sense my nervous system sending and receiving endless synapses. I feel my heart beat. The buzzes of energy seem to extend into the space around me, including me in the environment.

The inner meditating figure is slanted, as if I’m moving slightly off the ground. Sometimes, I feel like I float. The inner figure contains denser ink lines that reveal my heightened awareness of the tingly sensations. While experiencing this vital dynamism, I’m profoundly relaxed and blissful. I feel deeply connected to a sacred dimension. I lose all sense of time. When I think I’ve meditated for about twenty minutes, I’m shocked when the clock shows me that it’s been an hour or more.

My meditation teacher, Lama Tempa, a Buddhist monk, tells me that this deeper space is not enlightenment. While, to me, it feels heavenly, the lama says it’s simply a lovely place to rest and revive. It’s a source of all goodness, such as insight, connection to life’s purpose, synchronicity, coincidence and a spiritual link to an essence. However, according to the lama, the real work of enlightenment lies far beyond this realm.

Meanwhile, this waystation is important on my meditation journey. Using ink to draw what meditation feels like helps me understand where I go on my mindful excursions. Hopefully, in my drawings, I’m able to communicate something of my meditation experience to others.

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