Playing with Words

One popular way people enjoy expressing and displaying creativity, is through the work with words.

The idea is simple; wanting to immerse ourselves in positive concepts. However, words and concepts are limited, and just as they can support us they can bound us, and even block us from diving further inwards and growing.

Using words in creative work, is commonly done with a few selected words that one wishes to portray in a painting. A sentence that we may wish to remember, a quote we hearted that we want to interact with, contemplate, play with it in colors, and then display as an art object.

Using words that can be inspirational, and longing to have them as a reminder might lead to create such work. However, I personally think it’s important to look slightly deeper into this common practice and form of artwork, which may be more limiting then we initially think.

Unlike traditional calligraphy

Looking at these popular trend of artwork made with word, we may be reminded with calligraphy work and think these practices share some similarities. But any similarities we may assume to find, would be a misunderstanding of the essence of calligraphy.

The profound meditative work of calligraphy in fact gives the focus to the inner state of the practitioner, not the mental concepts of the text that is portrayed.

The brushstroke, flow of movement, the breath and the spiritual effect these have on the artist are the center of the work and not the actual characters or letters created. The wording is not the subject of such artwork, but simply the vehicle. The words, or Chinese characters for example, are not that which gives meaning to the artwork. Its meaning is in the energy and inner state of the creator of it.

Mental positivity

Using art to connect with concepts or ideas that we long to empower, may sound positive, it may even sound meditative. However many times this practice may only feed our imagination and self-image rather than nourish a deep thirst for inner growth.

It is true that if we insist on working with mental concepts in our creative work then it’s much better to make use of positive concepts and inspiring ways of thought. This would certainly be more supportive then working with words and mentally connects that are destructive. Yes, it’s certainly better and more supportive to create a painting with words such as love, divine and joy rather than words such as hate, revenge and despair.

However, while choose positive words to surround ourselves can be a healing step towards wellness it certainly is limited and can even have a destructive effect.

The Negative side of positive thinking

What is positive thinking? Just as one would try to do with the use of art – taking a concept and repeating it, playing with it in our mind again and again and again, until it is no long a stranger in us, but it actually starts to independently dwell in us, as if it was always there.

Positive thinking has made big steps since the 80s, when back then Louise Hay popularized the idea in her utterly brilliant work of healing through affirmation and positive thinking. She dedicated her life to utilizing positive reinforcement, loving words, visuals and thought, to heal herself and help others heal. Her beautiful work spread and reached millions. It still serves as a powerful aid to so many people worldwide. While researching and developing her work, she based her realizations on her personal experience, healing her body of cancer and the healing of so many others. She encouraged people to combine deep self-reflection along with working with words, visualization as well as meditation, in one’s personal journey.

However, as much as this beautiful work can be, when we flatten it and draw from it just merely sweet slogans, these so many times end up being not only empty, but also unsupportive.

“You can do anything if you believe in yourself”

“You are exactly where you need to be”

“Everything happens for a reason”

“You can only get better”

These and other such mottos which seem very comforting, are not only filling the advertisement world and social media platforms, they are actually filling people’s minds as well. These so called positive spiritual concepts, can not only be meaningless, but they may even have a negative influence.

Let us look at an example. For instance: if I’m stuck in a job that is harmful, in an abusive relationship and addicted to dangerous habits – the last think I would need is to convince myself to believe that “I’m exactly where I need to be”. In such a situation, such thoughts may just keep me there giving me some false feeling that it’s everything is just fine. It would be much more beneficial and loving to actually confront the ugly truth, rather than to covering up my harmful current condition, with pretty words. Acknowledging that holes in my bucket that are draining me, and the poisons that are afflicting me, are the first steps needed in order to enable the will to create change.

Believing in oneself and having a firm foundation of self-love is possibly as important as it gets. Self-love, self-appreciation and self-care are the base of any live worth living. However, just as self-care is not about which face cream or bath salts you use; self-love is not loving our self-image, our idea of who we are or our personality. It’s not about how we can prove ourselves to the world or to others. It is much more real, basic and pure. It is intimate and vital as our very own bone marrow.

Accepting ourselves as we are is the base, it is the foundation upon which we grow and empower ourselves. However this growth is not about loving and welcoming everything, it’s about developing discrimination and learning to recognize which is genuinely good for us. And then supporting ourselves with that. Real self-love, which is not effected by anything of this world gives us the sight, to see where we are right, and where we are wrong.

If we wish to change and we choose to brain wash ourselves in order to achieve that, we need to be absolutely certain that what we are teaching ourselves is actually positive and supportive. We should also question if this is the right kind of education we want to pursue.

Beyond brainwashing

Trying to educate ourselves into believing an idea, in hope that it will actually transform into a conviction is a popular form of so called positive thinking. It is in fact a form of brainwashing. Repeating an idea, even if we think it is a fabulous one, again and again, is a form of mentally programing ourselves.

If we long to have a real and deep relationship with ourselves, we must open our eyes, and accept the limitation of brainwashing our mind into any kind of idea. Moving from words, ideas and concepts, into actual living inner experience. While some form of brainwashing can be beneficial in a traumatic or very unhealthy situation, to nurse us back to a stable stage, we must learn to leave it behind once we are ready. 

But if brainwashing is effective, why ditch it?

Perhaps the first reason to stop brainwashing ourselves is because this form of education is not very respectful towards ourselves. Out of love and respect to ourselves, we need to find ways to grow and expand, without minimizing our power. It is not through diminishing our light behind some artificial lamp that we will learn to shine.

I have seen some people that refer to creative work done with text as some form of Meditative Art. And while I can understand that in essence they wish to create some form of therapeutic effect with the use of words and quotes they find inspiring, I also see how such a practice is not only narrow but even can be obstructive. Furthermore, defining such mental based practice as meditative may also block any openness to a real meditative states and actual inner work.

(c) 2010 Meditative Art School, Mochita Har-Lev      Web Development: