Contemplative Art Viewing Program
The poet Jane Hirschfield has written, “You can’t eat a painting. You can’t do anything except stand before it, see the world differently, and walk away changed. That’s what a painting can do.” If we spend enough time letting an artwork speak to us, if we allow it, looking at a work of art can change our way of being in the world.
Contemplative art viewing as a mindfulness practice can ground the body, quiet the mind and open the heart. As we become more present to our experience in the moment, we may shift from thinking about and judging a work of art to connecting to it more fully with our senses. The simplicity of bringing our full attention as we engage with a work of art can be an invitation for beginners to explore mindfulness further, and for those more experienced to deepen their practice.
In this program, participants will spend an extended period of time experiencing a single work of art. This format creates the conditions for having an experience with a work of art that is fresh, direct and more spacious. Through guided meditation, quiet reflection, and dialogue, one’s experience of art can be enriched.
Mindfulness in the Museum
Here are comments by two participants in the Mindfulness in the Museum program that I have facilitated at the University of Michigan Museum of Art:
“I have been to UMMA many times, often walking through feeling like I missed out on having a deep experience. This program provided me with the most profound UMMA experience, and it taught me the skills to come back again and have a meaningful experience.” Zachary Baker
"What a joy and a pleasure to experience Mindfulness in the Museum with you. I was so touched by everyone’s openness and your gentle, expert guidance.” Deborah Bayer