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D+P Studio News

Here is a wee bit of news from the D+P Studio!

Currently browsing Tag: Meditation

Deeply, slowly and softly – Shakyo tracing at KSD

8 May 2019

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD

The last of our series of free events related to Japanese calligraphy and meditative practice was Shakyo copying – tracing a sutra.
We started with a talk where Blair discussed the history of Shakyo (and of course including the famous story of Genjo / Xuanzang c 602 – 664 which was popularised in the Saiyuuki / Monkey Magic series, itself based on the fictionalised Chinese novel Journey to the West) and his experience of participating in Shakyo practice in Soto shu and Hosso shu temples in Japan taught by monks and calligraphy masters, connecting with wider zen practice.

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD

We then had a look at the structure and some of the many meanings in the sutra, the shortened essence or heart of the massively longer epic Dai Hannya (as the monks call it) or Vast Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.
Then we approached this session like a period of meditation, working peacefully and being absorbed into the very process of tracing each character of the chosen Heart Sutra. This is a very tranquil activity best done slowly. 

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD

In many ways it is also very different from Shodo calligraphy (which we explored in the other groups in this series), such as we worked on many small characters in vertical rows with small kofude brushes, grinding our own ink (listening to the sound as we did so and noticing the speed of the grinding) and connecting to the sutra rather than working with large brushes and kanji in the much more dynamic process of Shodo.

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD

This type of Shakyo group working with the these traditional materials and methods and looking deeply at the ideas in the sutra is new to Scotland and the UK, and we were delighted to host this and see the participants engage wholeheartedly, enjoy it and want to practice it further. Thanks again to the GB Sasakawa Foundation for their support for this project.

Deeply, slowly and softly - Shakyo tracing at KSD
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Category: Art Groups Tags: , , ,

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

1 March 2019

In January Blair visited Japan as part of a project kindly funded by the GB Sasakawa Foundation. He had an exciting packed schedule learning about various Shodo calligraphy styles of Japanese calligraphy with Shodo masters in Tokyo, and investigating mindful meditation practices with different teachers and monks in Tokyo and the Hokuriku area.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

He met respected Japanese Zazen meditation (Zen) teachers to investigate connections between mindful meditation practice for calm and well-being, Japanese harmony with the environment and Shakyo practice. Shakyo is a peaceful, meditative method of tracing the Japanese and Chinese kanji characters of sutras such as the Heart Sutra (copying the old version of traveler monk Genjo in the temple artwork below, Blair enjoyed this in Soto shu and also Hosso shu temples in Tokyo). His teachers introduced him to Ganshinkei’s (Yan Zhenqing) calligraphy being exhibited at Tokyo National Museum, as well as an exhibition of shodo pieces he visited in Ueno.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Visiting Okamoto Taro’s studio museum in Aoyama was also an inspiration as this is an artist that inspires some of the D+P Studio artwork collaborations.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

It was a fun trip for Blair and he was able to stay in an old Soto Shu temple as well as learn from masters like Issho Fujita who are knowledgeable about many Japanese practices related to Buddhism and mindfulness. In different temples he found varying and subtle styles of meditation practice (such as in Soto and Rinzai temples). He also visited Natadera temple and caves, an old Shingon temple dating to the 8th century – he found connections there between the sacred earth and nature worship of Shinto, Hakusan mountain reverance and Buddhist meditative practice.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

There were many mysteries and places he would have liked to spend more time delving into, but he couldn’t stop too long before hopping on the next bus or shinkansen train to reach a new Zazen meeting or Shodo workshop! Blair is very thankful for all the support he received in Japan, from many kind and helpful individuals as well as teachers and monks.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

From March to May we are running a series of free workshops in the Glasgow area exploring the themes mentioned above.

7th March 2019
Ruchill After School P4-P7 Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

8th March 2019
Maryhill 12+ Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

9th March 2019
Maryhill Breakfast Club Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

25th April 2019
Maryhill Art Group – Japanese calligraphy night

28th April 2019
Introduction to Japanese Sho Calligraphy

4th May 2019
Introduction to Shakyo – Tracing the Sutras

We will have fun trying out and discussing Japanese Shodo calligraphy, meditation and mindful awareness, and investigate how these practices can help us connect with our environment through markmaking. Also we will look for shared cultural connections for instance with Celtic and Pictish symbols and pictograms. There is very little knowledge about mindful Shakyo practice, which is a calming and activity aiding wellbeing and awareness, this is a new practice for people in the UK.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

 

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation


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Meditation and Qigong with young people

10 February 2019

At Maryhill Hub on Saturday, Blair working with the NUC young people – a short session of mindfulness meditation for children with some fun Qigong movesπŸ˜ƒ

 

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Workshop for North United Communities

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Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

29 November 2018

It was a peaceful journey to Lenzie along the quiet paths and roads. When we arrived we found inspiring examples by Margaret of ink markmaking using a branch or twig from each of the varied types of trees in the grounds. Birch, Plum, Alder, Rowan, Larch, Fir, Hawthorn… and many other beautiful trees with their different character and textures.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

After settling in, we began with a chat about the day with the theme of being with the transition of autumn into winter, the feeling of form and also space, and looked at examples of ancient markmaking such as Pictish symbols and runes from Scotland alongside the Chinese and Japanese characters. These were Kouyou 紅葉 – Autumn colours, literally crimson leaves – and Toukou 冬光 – Winter light. The tree runes shape from Maeshowe in Orkney was very similar to the oldest leaf shapes from ancient China.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

We meditated sitting outside by the energetic fire, guided by Margaret, and were aware of the earthy form of the autumn leaves on the ground, the seasonal colours, the heat from the fire, the blue grey smoke and the way we could see through the flames in a flickering changing image. It started to drizzle and we headed back to the cozy workshop with some leaves, twigs and pine cones we had gathered.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Our markmaking with the Japanese fude brushes helped us loosen up, working with vertical and horizontals and noticing the different feeling in our body and core as we did this. Then we used the beautiful autumnal natural objects to make some marks, being amazed by the variety of textures possible, before trying out some of the styles of calligraphy, from the oldest methods carved into bone or later stone, Blair guiding some demos from different versions of the leaf and red characters.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

We found it helpful to notice the very different ways of working using the brushes and natural objects, and how they related to the more modern styles such as kaisho or the more ancient styles such as tensho, which we found had more in common with other ancient marks.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

After a tasty, heart warming lunch we had a short rest, then headed back outside into the west woods this time to meditate being aware of the winter light – standing by the trees. We noticed the light framed by the fragmented lines of branches while looking up through the trees, or through our hands, and the colour of the sky and the temperature of the space and air. It was noticeably cooling down as we were out! With the soft sounds of the bell we walked back together, picking up one or two more things to experiment with, some were just ideal for using!

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Tealights were lit and these helped us be aware of the darkening cooler light outside and emerging warmth and intimacy inside the space. There was a final moment of radiant golden sunset light coming through the examples on the windows into the workshop.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Taking the two characters winter and light as our guide we continued calligraphy, and also had some fun playing with the materials and ink, the leaves and pine cones were just perfect for some direct printmaking! One of the participants had a winter squirrel named Syril who kindly supervised the last part of the day!

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Category: Art Groups Tags: , , ,

Meditation and calm at Brushing Fire

8 September 2018

We started the day at Lenzie with a chat about the shared cultural connections around the five elements, particularly through the Himalayan area, from India, Tibet to China and Japan. We looked at the variety of meanings as well as the different approaches of the Godai Buddhist five elements, Bon and the Gogyo Chinese Five Phases.

Looking at the shamanic origins of the Chinese characters and the curvy Tensho calligraphy style was helpful to connect to the elements in a deeper way.

Margaret had prepared a fire for us to all enjoy sitting with, so we sat in meditation by it. The wind funneled the flames and smoke with real speed and energy but it was still calm sitting there by the trees.

Experimenting with inks and holding the Japanese fude brushes, we made some marks to explore our feeling and experience of being with fire.

The wood burning stove also helped us stay in the mood and continue the relationship to fire from outdoors. When we moved onto the character for wind, kaze, we had some extra inspiration from the Shakuhachi flute!

Larger brushes, paper and orange sumi ink were used to play around with some large versions of fire and wind πŸ™‚

After a quiet lunch with hearty sweet potato soup and riceballs, we had a short break then walked to a small river to peacefully engage with the water and space elements, helped by Margaret. It was really peaceful sitting by the water and contemplating the flow, sometimes fast or slow, looking at the sense of edge at the banks, and being surrounded by the greens of river reeds and plants.

It began to rain softly which enlivened the colours and helped make us more aware of the space element on the way back. We made some watery flowing marks then worked on the kanji characters (with both kaisho and tensho styles) for water – sui, space/ sky/ emptiness – ku, and earth – chi.

We then had some time to try out more of the tensho style or go for it and combine all five characters together on a single sheet of washi paper.

 

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Relaxing and meditative tracing of the Heart Sutra

2 May 2018

In the Garden room at KSD a small group of us began Shakyo – copying sutras – by chatting about the history and styles and looking at some examples of the characters such as mu – dream and ku – space. Then we slowly and quietly worked on the tracing itself.

We used transparent Japanese paper laid upon the example piece (by Blair) so we could see the Chinese characters coming through, and meditatively worked on one character at a time.

Tracing the Sutras – Shakyo Peaceful practice following the Heart Sutra

Tracing the Sutras – Shakyo Peaceful practice following the Heart Sutra

The group found the Shakyo method of working on a tracing to be quite different, for instance we used small brushes and ground our own ink with the hard ink blocks, which was a nice thing to do noticing the darkness of the ink and even the sound of the grinding, and we were tracing the old characters passed on to us over many centuries in the example sutra.

Tracing the Sutras – Shakyo Peaceful practice following the Heart Sutra

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Relaxing, making some marks, meditating

2 May 2018

Relaxing, making some marks, meditating

We have been helping some folk to find calm and relaxation by providing a peaceful space where we can combine some meditation time, mark making, and notice our senses and environment. In this session we meditated together, relaxed our breathing, listened to some poetry and words for inspiration and made some very chilled flowing marks with brush pens, good fun to use πŸ™‚

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Sansui – Mountains and Water calligraphy at Wiston Lodge

9 March 2018

On February 17th we led a calligraphy and mindfulness day at Wiston Lodge with the friendly and enthusiastic members of the Border Collie Sangha. The setting and light was beautiful with lodge sitting next to Tinto hill south of Lanark, with ice and snow melt running off the hill.

Calligraphy day at Wiston Lodge

The day was perfect for combining shodo calligraphy with indoors and outdoors walking meditation. We worked with several old Chinese and Japanese characters including shin (εΏƒ) – heart/mind – and sansui (ε±±ζ°΄) – mountains and water/landscape.

Calligraphy day at Wiston Lodge

Calligraphy day at Wiston Lodge - Sansui Mountains and Rivers

Calligraphy day at Wiston Lodge

Calligraphy day at Wiston Lodge

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Skybrush Earthbrush

10 November 2017

It was super to be asked by Margaret Kerr to her inspiring place in Lenzie to work with her on this one day retreat combining meditation, outdoor walking and mindful practice with Shodo calligraphy. We began the day with a chat about the theme – the vast land and the great sky – and talked about the Chinese/ Japanese characters of Daichi and Tenkuu.

Skybrush Earthbrush

We then sat in a circle in the room to meditate together which was a nice peaceful way to get settled. We got ready to head outside for a short walk to the edge of the land to take in an open view of the hills and sky to the North, towards the Campsies. Margaret encouraged us to connect with space and sky through our various senses, including listening to the space, and using our sight, such as noticing the sky to the edges of our vision where we may not often be aware of. Then we found a spot each to sit or stand and have some personal time to take in the sky.

Taking this awareness inside, we first got a feel for the materials then we tried out the kanji for heavens 倩 with the Japanese brushes and ink, a graceful dynamic shape! Blair did some demos giving tips on how to hold and move the brush and embrace the feeling of sky whilst working.

Skybrush Earthbrush

Skybrush Earthbrush

After lunch we went outside with Margaret leading us to the grove and helping us connect, touch and feel the great earth. It was amazing to sit there, looking and touching all the myriad of subtle textures and colours, and be grounded. It was quite different looking down this time, and taking in the small things.

We took this earthy feel back inside to work on the kanji chi 地 for ground which is quite a tectonic geographical looking shape with the interlocking brushstrokes! It was a bit chilly but we put on our warm hats and scarves and headed outside the workshop for some large calligraphy pieces. There was a demo first of the characters and then folk enjoyed some freedom with the substantial large old fude brushes (kindly passed onto Blair from his calligraphy master Ojiiichan ‘Granpa’, Shujo Wakabayashi). Great to see the group energetically working on their big pieces.

Skybrush Earthbrush

Skybrush Earthbrush

It was a fun finish to the day, working with great earth and vast sky directly outside on the grass by the birch trees. Margaret then brought us together for a short moment to reflect on the day.

Skybrush Earthbrush

Skybrush Earthbrush

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