Deborah J. Haynes

Fulfilling Aspirations

Almost exactly a year ago, I set a personal aspiration and made a commitment: to find multiple ways to share my seventh book, Beginning Again: Reflections on Art as Spiritual Practice, over the course of a year. This book is the fruition of many years of making art and reflecting about the vocation of the artist, and predates my decision thirty-five years ago to continue graduate study at Harvard Divinity School and Harvard University. Those were precious years of intensive study – world religions, theology, and art history, plus three languages, French, German, and Russian. After having spent a decade focused on the body and mind through yoga, I needed and wanted to train and extend my mind. But there are, of course, many ways to train the mind. My first experience of meditation was in a yoga class when I was eighteen, then again the following year. I practiced zazen for almost a year, then began to explore various esoteric traditions while living in New York and London in the 1970s. During the early 1980s I was certified and taught Iyengar-style yoga and had a consistent studio art practice, the high point of which was exhibiting at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Then those glorious years of study, and subsequent years of writing and publishing books and essays. More art in the studio, and finally, a sustained meditation practice that is definitely helping to stabilize my mind and open my heart. Now, with the end of 2019 in sight, I find myself reflecting not only about the past year, but also about my fate over these past decades. In the lower right corner of this photograph of a stone I carved, a grasshopper clings to the edge of the stone and tells me to trust my inner voices.


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