Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Art of Concentration

The other day  I decided to try and paint again after my stretch off caused by my accident. A friend said jokingly that his would be something worth watching. I set up my laptop in front of my easel connected to my friend’s computer and began to work. My friend was able to watch or not and I was not aware of whether I was being watched, or if I was working on my own. It was an interesting experience and I was able to work without ever really thinking about being watched.

After I had decided to stop for the day, because the pain was beginning to return to the point of being unbearable my friend commented on my intensity of concentration. My friend on the other hand tells me that such concentration for her is not possible. When she paints she tells me her mind flits from one thought to another. Different strokes for different folks I guess. What surprised me was when she pointed out the time. I had painted non stop from eleven in the morning till three in the afternoon. I was sure that I had only been at it for about just over an hour.

This has brought me much pleasure in the last few days to realise that I was once again capable of this level of concentration. I would hate never to paint again but even more I would hate to lose the ability to give my mind solely to the task in hand. I have spent many years trying to develop this skill and I hope it is the last one to leave me. The trouble is you, see my head is so full of things buzzing around like a hive of bees all demanding my attention that I have had to learn how to filter them all out and be selective in my thoughts when doing something I consider important. Maybe that is why I keep sitting on spectacles or on the other hand searching for them only to realise I have them on. Maybe also that is why I sometimes come upstairs and wonder why I did. It has nothing at all to do with my aging process. Now that does make me feel good. But who am I kidding here?

There is the lovely story of the Zen master who possessed the ability to concentrate so hard that his students were a bit afraid of him. He seemed to be unruffled by anything. One day they thought they would try and bring him back into their realm of concentration. They all hid in the cloisters of the monastery and waited on him walking past. Soon he came carrying a cup of precious tea. As he passed they all jumped out yelling and shouting. He never blinked and carried on till he reached the small table at the far end. Here he laid down his cup, leaned against the wall, and cried out in shock, “Ohhhhh!”

One thing at a time one thought at a moment and savour the moment and the thought. I have so many wonderful thoughts to savour from the comments you all make on my blog and the blogs I read. Thank you all.

This is the way of Tao.

This blog is linked to my other blog where I discuss the tale of this artwork:-Tiger Pause


  1. Great pleasure beeing concentrated in your FLOW...

  2. In all my school years I never worried about concentrating as having been blessed with a photographic memory knowledge came instantly. So through classes I doodled and sketched. I would open a text book the night before an examination, read and the next day the text book may as well have been open in front of me .... I could visualize the page and text and ace an examination every time.
    And still, my mind flits from here to there and back with doodles all about; eventually it settles on the subject and I can complete the task at hand.
    I have always envied a person who could concentrate on one task to fufillment. Good for you Ralph.

  3. Another with the thoughts constantly swirling and buzzing, Ralph. Probably comes as no surprise to you though. And I too often spend quite a bit of time searching for glasses that are already atop my head.