The unprecedented circumstances we face each day during COVID-19 bring jumbled thoughts, constant worries, and challenging decisions. It’s no wonder that many of us feel like the very ground under our feet is unstable. I can think of no better time to turn attention to our mental health, finding ways to slow our thoughts, ground ourselves, and focus on the beauty there is in the world.
The Trout Gallery has created a guided meditation that you can use with any work of art to help you find peace in an overwhelming world. Developed in conjunction with a psychologist at Dickinson College’s Wellness Center and student assistants at The Trout Gallery, the goal of the meditation is to slow down the looking process, teaching listeners a new way to approach an art object. It just so happens that this approach has added benefits; it acts as an introduction to meditative practice, providing a visual focus for those of us unable to empty our minds completely.
We named our meditation SLOW ART, to indicate our museum’s participation in larger initiatives within the art world to encourage diverse approaches to viewing art. The SLOW ART movement (there’s even an official day and website now) is but one example of an approach that requires no previous background knowledge and puts the viewer in charge of making meaning/s out of an art object. We limit the potential of art and its audiences by presuming that all viewers will benefit the most from a traditional art historical lecture about a specific work. There is no one right way to look at art, just as there is no single “truth” that unlocks the meaning of a work of art.
I’d like to invite you to experience our SLOW ART meditation. If you’d like to comment on the experience, we’d love feedback. While we have chosen a Thai Buddhist sculpture from our permanent collection as the artwork on view in the meditation, the audio is designed to be used with any work of art. So come back to it. Listen to it while viewing your favorite work of art. Maybe it will bring new dimensions to your experience of that work. And, most importantly, use this meditation to take care of yourself, slowing your mental chatter and finding a place of stillness while you gather strength for what tomorrow brings.
Click HERE to access the meditation, narrated by Dickinson College student Lizzie Grabowski ‘2017.