This post originally appeared at Danila Rumold’s blog and is reposted here with kind permission.
Having a baby changed everything. Before, I had endless hours to squander in the studio. I also had the privilege of daily meditation sittings so I could be in the flow when I began painting. Today my meditation practice is limited to once or twice a week when I sit with my Sangha (Buddhist meditation community) and divided into ambitions of sitting daily three times for 10 minutes.
Despite these cutbacks in time to cultivate these two practices, when I find my window into the studio I am there! I find myself working more decisively and making bolder decisions. Although production has slowed down, that seems to have benefited my work, allowing for greater periods of incubation, discernment, and accumulation of the layers of paint. Surface has taken on greater importance in the work, emphasizing the hows and whys of painting.
The perfect place to condition is where you are and the perfect condition is who you are.
However, as for how this decline in my meditation has affected my daily life, I am afraid I cannot say it has made me more present. I find myself becoming less mindful, misplacing my keys on a daily basis, leaving stove burners on low, and losing my patience with my two-year-old toddler as she navigates her newly discovered autonomy. This loss of equanimity which I had cultivated over the past five years of my meditation practice dissolved in a heartbeat upon becoming a parent. Feeling the loss of the life I had and the life I have now, I noticed the thought that I had lost my “spiritual fitness.”
In an attempt to get back with the basics of my practice which abides in the only moment we have which is Now, I began to listen to Dharma talks while in my studio about mindfulness and spirituality in daily life.
Through listening I realized I had not lost my connection to my spiritual practice but I had actually found an interesting edge. The edge between what is formal meditation and how to extend that practice into daily life. What that entails is being present for all my activities whether it is time in my studio, or embracing the chaos of domestic chores. Most importantly it means standing by my toddler and allowing her to feel her big feelings and letting her know I am there for her when she is ready.
A Buddhist saying I heard which I hope to hold as my mantra as I navigate this new phase of my life as an artist and parent is, “The perfect place to condition is where you are and the perfect condition is who you are.”