Meditation as Art: The Sacred Shadow Self

Meditation as Art: The Sacred Shadow Self
Installation and Meditation Performance

an interactive art installation
including live meditation performances
inspired by my two-year-old and a wise Navajo elder

media: paper, light, refractions and shadows 
performance: mindfulness, qigong, yoga, chanting, singing bowls, and other meditative arts 

In the indigenous worldview
all life is sacred.
a shadow
cast by a living being
between the Sun and the Earth
is also sacred.
In this way,
the Sacred Shadow of the Self
is a result of being
in the world of substance.

“We are all a precious child of creator and as such our shadow is also a sacred part of our selves as the precious children of the holy people our ancestors in the context of the natural order in the universe.”

– Patricia Anne Davis, Navajo Wisdom Keeper

artist statement

I first heard the term Sacred Shadow Self in a conversation with Navajo Wisdom Keeper, Patricia Anne Davis. My son was 2 years old and just learning about the magic of shadows. Patricia and I were watching him playing with his shadow when Patricia explained to me how the Navajo word for “shadow” conveyed the entire concept she described as “The Sacred Shadow Self.”

Playing with your sacred shadow self is a reminder that you are in the world of substance, you are more than your thoughts and feelings, but also matter interacting with the materiality of what exists around you.

Meditation as Art – Karah Pino

At first when my son saw the shadows, they were frightening to him. But, they were also mysterious and dynamic, so he kept staring at them, trying to understand how they moved.

In time, he began to realized the shadows moved with his movements. As his understanding deepened, he found delight in figuring out the puzzle. He then began searching for the light source to try and discern what was causing the shadows he was looking at. In time his delight turned to excitement as he realized that it was he that made the shadows and they moved along with his own movements.

“I hope you enjoy this exhibit within your heart as a 2-year-old in divine celebration of being”

Meditation as Art – Karah Pino

My own realization of this miracle of matter held me in contemplation of the likewise mysterious and dynamic forces that create matter. These unseen forces bind the mostly empty atoms into form in such a way as to bend light particles around them instead of going through them. Even remnant particles coming from a powerful fission reaction of a star, our sun are bent or absorbed into these atoms.

Recognizing that the actuality of our immateriality is vastly greater than our measurable materiality is a profound recognition of the improbability of substantive form. Yet here we are, bending and absorbing light particles. Not only that, a perceptible measurement of organic life is the way we rearrange these particles and emit them in radiant patterns. In this way, photons prove life in both their presence and absence.

In this show I wanted to give participants the opportunity to directly experience their own sacred shadow self through performance and light. Observing the sacredness of meditative moments in experienced meditators trained in the art of meditation gives viewers the opportunity to join in the meditation by building their observer mind. The observer mind is the practice of being mindful and present in awareness while remaining calm, non-reactive and non-judgmental.

With the help of multiple interacting light sources viewers have a chance to play the game of shadow finding, observing the effect of shadows and light to bring a new awareness of the space we are in.

Related Posts:

The Sacred Shadow Self: Concept sketches and explorations