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Mar 21
Friday
Arts and Poetry
Shining Fragments of Play

Shoes with candy, by Angela Lloyd

Shoes with candy, by Angela Lloyd

Celebrating the Arts

Upon Attending a Shambhala Art Intensive
article by Allison Conant
photos by Angela Lloyd

I remember the weekend in shining fragments: pink and white Good and Plenty’s in Anne’s vintage red kitten-heel shoe, a sprinkling of bright green herbs on the floor, a wooden trencher piled with sugar sprinkled pan dulce, a shimmering crystal goblet on a field of blue silk. Slapping post-it notes on my arms, forehead, chest and back. There was poetry, slathering black ink on white pages, optical illusions, and – of course – hard-boiled eggs.

There were superhero greetings and tearful stories of losses, new and old. We marveled over the simple beauty of Bakelite steak knives, salt crystals, and seashells. I watched my mental cogs turning slowly, sometimes freezing when the prospect of drawing a table was thrown at me, sometimes whirling easily when greased with confidence and laughter.

Allison with post its, by Angela Lloyd

Allison with post its, by Angela Lloyd

We plied our teacher for his tales of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and realized with sobering intensity what a privilege it was to study dharma art with Steven Saitzyk and his wife, Anne. It was more than an art class. It was the precious, gentle, profound transmission of our powerful Shambhala lineage.

There were, as there always seem to be at Shambhala retreats, true connections made, friendships formed, gratitude expressed – the astonishing magic of a mandala formed and dissolved.

There was Space. Form. Energy. Object placement, each time a little flutter of nerves, the jitters of ego, the tickle of self-doubt but there was always the support of the teacher, the knowledge that process privileged product, and a growing sense of humor to temper it all. Each object placement exercise was a little miracle of contemplative collaboration. Some were mind-stopping in their beauty. Others a revelation in what happens when we neglect the purity of “first thought”.

Ink and brushes, by Angela Lloyd

Ink and brushes, by Angela Lloyd

Collage, photo by Angela Lloyd

Collage, photo by Angela Lloyd

….If none of this makes sense to you perhaps it’s because I can’t quite make sense of it myself. I was simply there. Experiencing it. Letting each moment happen. Watching my thoughts come and go, laughing a little more easily each time my ego got the best of me.

Most of all, it was fun. A commodity that has always been in short supply in my life. Something I have come to appreciate is crucial to any learning, crucial to creating a joyful, confident, related life.

Calligraphy, photo by Angela Lloyd

Calligraphy, photo by Angela Lloyd

To be honest, I learned early on that play was a distraction it was not safe to indulge in. Play requires vulnerability. It requires a valuation of self. A willingness to stay in the moment. Play requires letting go. Not all kids grow up in a household that supports these things.

Over the years I’ve learned to work with these things as best I can, and I have come a long way, but that Shambhala Art Intensive gave me something I honestly never went looking for. Something I suppose I thought was lost forever – my sense of play.

And now I can bring that playfulness into my classroom and create situations in which my own students can let go, laugh, be kids – and learn.

Maybe it’s okay that I can only revisit the Shambhala Art Intensive in shining flashes. Kids don’t remember every moment of every game of hide-n-go-seek, or hopscotch, or finger-painting – they just do it. They just play. And wake up another day and play again.

~~
Allison Conant has been studying Shambhala Buddhism for eight years. She is a high school English teacher in her fourteenth year and is proud to be working at an arts integration school called ArTES. Prior to that, she worked her way up from assistant to development executive at a feature film production company. Her life in Los Angeles has been a grand adventure filled with many challenges and rewards, but the Shambhala path has provided her with the greatest adventures of all.

Angela Lloyd, MFA is a Shambhala Art Teacher and an award winning recording artist, master storyteller and musician. A student of Laura Simms, she started meditating at Laura Simms’ Annual Storytelling Residency in 1987 and is a member of Shambhala. She has completed levels of Miksang, a contemplative practice of photography; and is an enthusiastic member of the Dorje Kasung. Her particular interest in the Shambhala Art teachings is how language arts (speech, silence and humor) are used to create a safe container for inter-related arts experiences for body, mind and speech. www.angelalloyd.com

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