Mindfulness Art by Sheela Singla

presence Is Here Now

Mindfulness with Sheela Iyer Singla, PhD, CMT-P

Simplicty, Ease, Peacefulness

This sketch captures a moment in time, when a buddha, meditating, momentarily settles the mind on a thought formation or other phenomenon, here signified by a pleasant cloud. There is a feeling in the mind of ease, simplicity, and peacefulness.

This sketch captures a moment in time, when a buddha, meditating, momentarily settles the mind on a thought formation or other phenomenon, here signified by a pleasant cloud. There is a feeling in the mind of ease, simplicity, and peacefulness.

The Spacious Heart

This painting shows a heart of spaciousness. In such a heart, we can hold everything that’s true for us right now. The clouds signify thoughts and transient phenomena, and the starry night sky signifies profound spaciousness.

The Immeasurable Heart Measured

When suffering, we can feel like our heart is constricted by a tape measure. We may take stringent measures to protect ourselves. Or, when we are feeling relatively peaceful and happy, we may feel like we are not free to offer compassion to another who is suffering. We want to remove the tape measure from the heart to give and receive freely. For a contemplation on this painting, see Oprah on the Ellen Show and Ellen on the Oprah Show.

The Immeasurable Heart Measured

When suffering, we can feel like our heart is constricted by a tape measure. We may take stringent measures to protect ourselves. Or, when we are feeling relatively peaceful and happy, we may feel like we are not free to offer compassion to another who is suffering. We want to remove the tape measure from the heart to give and receive freely.
From the view of awareness, the mind is actually more outside than the body. The mind contains a breath or body sensation. This painting shows the mind as a membrane, a lighter area percolated with perforated darker marks. The perforations signify the permeability of the mind and heart of awareness to, for example, the air we breath. The heart of awareness is the innermost dimension of experience. The fire-like interplay of dark and light in the foreground signify the aversion and curiosity I was experiencing while painting. The lighter and darker areas and their gradations signify duality and unity. We can be present with aversion, and bring out metta with the heart of awareness.

The Mind is More Outside Than the Body

From the view of awareness, the mind is actually more outside than the body. The mind contains a breath or body sensation. This painting shows the mind as a membrane, a lighter area percolated with perforated darker marks. The perforations signify the permeability of the mind and heart of awareness to, for example, the air we breath. The heart of awareness is the innermost dimension of experience. The fire-like interplay of dark and light in the foreground signify the aversion and curiosity I was experiencing while painting. The lighter and darker areas and their gradations signify duality and unity. We can be present with aversion, and bring out metta with the heart of awareness.

May you be happy and peaceful

Enso with May you be happy and peaceful written inside in mandarin. The enso is blue and the writing is red.

John 14:20

I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

A painting of a dark-skinned buddha with a red head scarf. There is the letter I painted on the area of the buddha's chest, and the verse from the Bible John 14:20 is written: I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

This enso is a succint way of saying: presence, which can mean the cosmic energy here now and perhaps always, takes different forms which are constantly changing. Impermanence and interconnection are the nature of this presence. We may try to pin things down, frame things and put them up, but these things are by nature impermanent.

This enso is a succint way of saying: presence, which can mean the cosmic energy here now and perhaps always, takes different forms which are constantly changing. Impermanence and interconnection are the nature of this presence. We may try to pin things down, frame things and put them up, but these things are by nature impermanent.

Inside are the Elements

This painting depicts a buddha with a view through the hair and skull to a more inner dimension. The inner dimension contains earth, water, fire, and air.

Inside are the Elements

This painting depicts a buddha with a view through the hair and skull to a more inner dimension. The inner dimension contains earth, water, fire, and air.
Fierce Compassion, or, Giving Love to our Inner Child

This sketch depicts a buddha feeling fierce compassion for self, including her inner child, and others. 

In her hands is her inner child, shown holding a carton of love milk and a baby bottle, as though to serve herself.

Some of us have had difficult childhoods, including trauma, and were not given safety, protection, or love adequately. It can be such a relief to realize and acknowledge this fact so that we can begin to heal. To paraphrase Sharon Salzberg: it was such a relief to hear that someone (the Buddha) taught that there is suffering in life; it was a feeling unlike any other feeling I had before.

We can hold our awareness of our suffering with compassion and connection, knowing we are not alone and that maybe there is also a little joy and equanimity here.

Fierce Compassion, or, Giving Love to our Inner Child

This sketch depicts a buddha feeling fierce compassion for self, including her inner child, and others.

In her hands is her inner child, shown holding a carton of love milk and a baby bottle, as though to serve herself.

Some of us have had difficult childhoods, including trauma, and were not given safety, protection, or love adequately. It can be such a relief to realize and acknowledge this fact so that we can begin to heal. To paraphrase Sharon Salzberg: it was such a relief to hear that someone (the Buddha) taught that there is suffering in life; it was a feeling unlike any other feeling I had before.

We can hold our awareness of our suffering with compassion and connection, knowing we are not alone and that maybe there is also a little joy and equanimity here.

Heart Anchor

This sketch depicts a light heart (upper heart) and a heavy heart (lower heart) grounded in the earth with a rope looped between the aorta and the light heart. Metta (loving kindness) practice can be an anchor for us as needed or daily. We can hold the difficulties in life with kindness and compassion for oneself and all beings. At times, when a surge of negativity impinges in the mind, I will repeat the phrases (may I/all beings be safe and protected; may I/all beings be happy and peaceful; may I/all beings be healthy and strong; may I/all beings live with ease) and this can help me/us bring compassion and kindness to difficulties in life.

Heart Anchor

This sketch depicts a light heart (upper heart) and a heavy heart (lower heart) grounded in the earth with a rope looped between the aorta and the light heart. Metta (loving kindness) practice can be an anchor for us as needed or daily. We can hold the difficulties in life with kindness and compassion for oneself and all beings. At times, when a surge of negativity impinges in the mind, I will repeat the phrases (may I/all beings be safe and protected; may I/all beings be happy and peaceful; may I/all beings be healthy and strong; may I/all beings live with ease) and this can help me/us bring compassion and kindness to difficulties in life.

Undertow

This sketch depicts earthy sand with a layer of water (upper right), the deep calm below the surface of the ocean (bottom left), and the undertow of Fire and Water at the border (upper left to lower right) pulling us into the beautiful stillness of awareness (presence). We see matching patterns, for example, in the turbulent, swirling movement of different elements (here, Fire and Water), that give a sense of ground. These patterns may reflect that Fire and Water have the same underlying energy, are made of the same stuff, as each other. As Pema Chödrön writes, we just allow ourselves to relax with the energy and as we increase the detail of our concentration, the undertow upends us. We move from the surface to groundlessness, the relaxed stillness of awareness (presence).

Undertow

This sketch depicts earthy sand with a layer of water (upper right), the deep calm below the surface of the ocean (bottom left), and the undertow of Fire and Water at the border (upper left to lower right) pulling us into the beautiful stillness of awareness (presence). We see matching patterns, for example, in the turbulent, swirling movement of different elements (here, Fire and Water), that give a sense of ground. These patterns may reflect that Fire and Water have the same underlying energy, are made of the same stuff, as each other. As Pema Chödrön writes, we just allow ourselves to relax with the energy and as we increase the detail of our concentration, the undertow upends us. We move from the surface to groundlessness, the relaxed stillness of awareness (presence).
Bodhisattva

Everything we want and need is right here in the present moment. Our freedom, presence, is already here now. The clear butterfly signifies freedom from suffering, and the crystal ball signifies the bodhisattva's vow to delay awakening until all beings are free from suffering. The crystal ball also signifies divinity.

Bodhisattva

Everything we want and need is right here in the present moment. Our freedom, presence, is already here now. The clear butterfly signifies freedom from suffering, and the crystal ball signifies the bodhisattva’s vow to delay awakening until all beings are free from suffering. The crystal ball also signifies divinity.

Give Me Ten

 The intended feeling of this painting is evocative of military base, a Native American reservation, partly cloudy cool weather perhaps New Mexico in Winter. See accompanying article about Noting. This painting is not only about the meditation technique of noting, but also about my own freedom from alcohol (free from alcohol for 7 years as of this writing). This painting is titled "Give Me Ten," as in ten notes or ten pushups. Other keywords for this painting are: craving, earth, sky, country, eagle, land.

The intended feeling of this painting is evocative of military base, a Native American reservation, partly cloudy cool weather perhaps New Mexico in Winter. See accompanying article about Noting. This painting is not only about the meditation technique of noting, but also about my own freedom from alcohol (free from alcohol for 7 years as of this writing). This painting is titled “Give Me Ten,” as in ten notes or ten pushups. Other keywords for this painting are: craving, earth, sky, country, eagle, land.

I am within Texas and Texas is within me

This painting is titled "I am within Texas and Texas is within me". It's about the space in and around the United States-Mexico border, and space within and without. Because of interconnectedness, the space around us merges with the space within us. Keywords for this painting are: "we are absolutely everywhere and relatively somewhere," "pulmonary flow," "Virgen de Guadalupe."

This painting is titled “I am within Texas and Texas is within me”. It’s about the space in and around the United States-Mexico border, and space within and without. Because of interconnectedness, the space around us merges with the space within us. Keywords for this painting are: “we are absolutely everywhere and relatively somewhere,” “pulmonary flow,” “Virgen de Guadalupe.”

The Trolls Within

The animals are drawn from Tibetan Buddhism, and signify aversion (ill-will, anger, hatred), ignorance (delusion), and greed (desire, craving.) The lotuses upon which the animals sit signify compassion, wisdom, and freedom (enlightenment). The humans are contemplating and about to experience groundlessness amid the klesas within. The hair of the woman on the left is about the sparseness, the impersonal nature, the emptiness and insubstantiality of thoughts (thought formations).

The animals are drawn from Tibetan Buddhism, and signify aversion (ill-will, anger, hatred), ignorance (delusion), and greed (desire, craving.) The lotuses upon which the animals sit signify compassion, wisdom, and freedom (enlightenment). The humans are contemplating and about to experience groundlessness amid the klesas within. The hair of the woman on the left is about the sparseness, the impersonal nature, the emptiness and insubstantiality of thoughts (thought formations).

Block prints, titled From Near and Far, We are Interconnected and Tibetan prayer flag garland, titled Windhorse. The prayer flags are from The International Campaign for Tibet (https://savetibet.org/). We are all affected by and affect the events in all corners of our homes, communities, and the world.
Block prints, titled From Near and Far, We are Interconnected and Tibetan prayer flag garland, titled Windhorse. The prayer flags are from The International Campaign for Tibet (https://savetibet.org/). We are all affected by and affect the events in all corners of our homes, communities, and the world.

Block prints, titled From Near and Far, We are Interconnected and Tibetan prayer flag garland, titled Windhorse. The prayer flags are from The International Campaign for Tibet (https://savetibet.org/). We are all affected by and affect the events in all corners of our homes, communities, and the world.

This painting depicts a red lotus gradually being carried out to sea by the ocean currents in a delta. Within the read lotus is dynamite. The dynamite signifies the bomb in our heart that is preventing us from being happy and living freely. In the foreground is a half black, half white lotus in which the dynamite has changed into the hair and top of the head of a buddha. There are blue and brown triangles, the greek letter delta, signifying change. The title of the painting is Change.

Change

This painting depicts a half-red, half-pink lotus gradually being carried out to sea by the ocean currents in a delta. Within the red lotus is dynamite. The dynamite signifies the bomb in our heart that is preventing us from being happy and living freely. In the foreground is a half black, half white lotus in which the dynamite has changed into the hair and top of the head of a buddha. There are blue and brown triangles, the greek letter delta, signifying change. The title of the painting is Change.

This painting signifies equanimity. In the middle ground is a dark-skinned hand with wrinkles depicted similarly to railroad tracks on the fingers. The hand is holding a clear, empty sphere. In the background is a blue lake, and in the sphere the water in the lake is shown refracted as viewed through the sphere curved at the edges and raised up a few percent of the sphere's radius. There is a red lotus in the foreground and black and white rain droplets falling from the sky.

This painting signifies equanimity. In the middle ground is a dark-skinned hand with wrinkles depicted similarly to railroad tracks on the fingers. The hand is holding a clear, empty sphere. In the background is a blue lake, and in the sphere the water in the lake is shown refracted as viewed through the sphere curved at the edges and raised up a few percent of the sphere’s radius. There is a red lotus in the foreground and black and white rain droplets falling from the sky.

Contemplative

Contemplative

This painting signifies a mind-heart state of loving contemplation and the clear, empty sky of awareness. Individual loving thoughts are depicted as clouds, and the clouds as a whole form the shape of a heart.
This painting signifies a mind-heart state of loving contemplation and the clear, empty sky of awareness. Individual loving thoughts are depicted as clouds, and the clouds as a whole form the shape of a heart.

Egret at the Trinity River

Egret at the Trinity River
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara observes that everything is emptiness; thus he forsakes all suffering. It was not after he realized this fact that he overcame suffering-to realize this fact is itself to be relieved from suffering. So realization of the truth is salvation itself.
photo of an egret at the Trinity River/Arkikosa/Daycoa
“Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara observes that everything is emptiness; thus he forsakes all suffering. It was not after he realized this fact that he overcame suffering-to realize this fact is itself to be relieved from suffering. So realization of the truth is salvation itself.”
“Even before we practice it, Enlightenment is there.”
-Shunryu Suzuki
Awareness that suffering is here is not suffering.

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Presence is Here Now