Karah Pino

The Art of Chess: Playing with Fire – a personal collage for Valentine’s Day

A humble man playing with Fire overseen by the intent eye of Gaia

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

This collage represents a lot of my personal history.  I was on the chess team in grade school, making it to the state championships in my 6th grade year.  I used to blame my dad for my obsessive game play, but I eventually recognized that while he did introduce me to the game, he certainly didn’t make me play 10 games a day with my brother or team mates.  I loved to play.  Winning was nice, but mostly, I enjoyed an interesting game.  It was my first form of meditation and mental training.

Later, after I abandoned the dreariness of early college science classes for the playtime of Art, I discovered the power of fire through blacksmithing, eventually taking an apprenticeship with Stoker Forge in Santa Fe, NM.  This 6 months was a whirlwind of intricate metallurgy and oozing black mucous from the smoke of the coal forge.  It was during this time I played and won my final chess game with an overzealous intellectual from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  I say it was my final game because I decided then to abandon zero sum games entirely.

My father bought my son a beginning chess set for his 4th birthday and he pulled it out recently.  I showed him the basics of the game, how the pieces are set up, how different pieces move and how captured pieces are removed from the board.  Mostly he enjoyed the clacking of the pieces interacting directly and the game quickly devolved into a melee.

Throughout my life, I have always had a deep connection with the Natural Order of life on this small blue green rock floating in space.  While I have a deep faith in the powers of human creative ingenuity, I have watched for 4 decades a continuing pattern of destructive decision-making perpetuating suffering for the living beings who dwell in this place.  It is troubling and confusing.  And yet, with the training of Vipassana Meditation and QiGong, I am able to come into contact with the miracle of peace and love that emerge between the dysfunctional thoughts and actions of my fellow man.

When we play with the spark within our own hearts, we are in perpetual collaborative game of life.

-Karah Pino

Celestial Grace – A soul collage of light and hope

Dancing Between Dimensions

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

Celestial Grace

I am the one who is illuminated by celestial grace, bounding between the stars.

What I give to you is the freedom to rest in trust of the majestic structure of the divine universe.

What I want from you is to joyfully surrender to the cosmic joke, dancing between dimensions.

How you will remember is by noticing how the light shines from within the weightless space between.

-Karah Pino

Responding to A Call to Wholeness with Attentive Awareness: an Homage to SN Goenka

I had the opportunity to sit in Vipassana meditation last month over Thanksgiving.  It had been three years since my last course which was during my pregnancy.  Motherhood has been an amazing challenge and finding ways to meditate throughout the day has been difficult, so I was thrilled at the opportunity to revitalize my practice again.

These are the notes I made in the clarity after 3 days of meditating 12 hours a day, observing my breath, observing my physical sensations and observing all the roiling thoughts in my mind that were taking my attention from the present moment.

You are lost in thought again: your thoughts, the thoughts of others, thoughts started in the distant past, thoughts unfinished.  Thoughts re-crafted over and over of what you might have done or what you didn’t do.  Thoughts of the future, the distant future, the immediate future, thoughts of a possible future if only you act now.  Thoughts of people, of circumstances of dreams and expectations.  Thoughts of passion, of regret, of emptiness, thoughts of what might have happened if only you had done or said something different than what  had happened.

These thoughts boil and churn, tumbling over one another again and again, perhaps with slight variations as you reinforce them with your creative mind.  If only, of only, of only…..

These thoughts grip your mind, freezing it in a static stasis of immobility.  If only, if only, if only.  But…but…but…

Resist the temptation to reinforce the past you are trying to correct, it is impossible.  Practice being aware of these thoughts without engaging them.  Observe how they rise.  Observe yourself engage them.  Observe how your physical structure reacts to this process.  And then observe yourself observing all this.

Be still.  Observe awhile and eventually you will see the spaces between thoughts.  Continue observing with attentive awareness and those spaces of clarity will expand.  As you observe, you will see how thoughts arise into the spaces and you will observe yourself engaging those thoughts for awhile before letting them go and watching them fade away.  Do not become elated at this fading away.  Do not expect the momentary peaceful clarity to last.  For, certainly, another thought will arise again.

We are not able to change our thinking by eliminating the thinking process.  We can learn to not react to thoughts and by not reacting to them.  It is inevitable that they will fade away as part of the nature of life which is always and unavoidably ever-changing.  The law of nature is that all is ever changing.

In the first hours of Noble Speech once silence has been broken this past vipassana course, something that always comes up is the question of how it is that we have all come to vipassana as students.  Despite the wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences, it is always interesting to learn that we each came to vipassana in response to an inner call to wholeness.  My story is similar to many others:  A friend was talking about her experience at her first vipassana course.  Her description of the meditation schedule, though rigorous, struck me as exactly what I needed at the time.

My practice has waxed and waned of the subsequent 10 years through graduate school, business and child-rearing.  At times the discipline was strong and I was able to weather intense times of change with easy breaths.  At other times the responsibility to others overwhelmed me and I did not make time to practice and the challenges of life became intense struggles.  But always the same call to wholeness resounded and I returned to find the lessons of attentive awareness once again.

After this past course, I noticed the difference between myself as an older student and the expectations of the newer students that I once shared.  As an older student, now, I no longer expect to have a sudden change of life that will enable me to maintain this clarity.  I don’t expect that I will be able to instantly be able to fulfill the directive to meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  And I can accept that without judgement.  I will do what I can do with gratitude for the moments of clarity that come as life keeps changing, changing, changing, ever-changing.

Karah Pino in meditation

Karah Pino in meditation

Vipassana Courses are offered around the world through the teaching of SN Goenka who transcended life this past September.  His recorded lessons teaching the technique and offering guidance to meditation ring true to new students and old students, young and old of all backgrounds and cultures.  Vipassana Courses are offered freely and donation of funds, time or other service are accepted but not expected.  To learn more, visit www.dhamma.org may all beings be happy.

Fiddleheads Forest School, A Parent’s Perspective by Karah Pino

“Wanna Touch the Sap with Me?”

Posted to the UW Botanic Gardens Blog November 18th, 2013 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Wanna touch the sap with me?

Wanna touch the sap with me?

“Wanna touch the sap with me?” This is the question posed by my 3-year-old every Tuesday and Thursday morning when he gets to Fiddleheads Forest School in the Washington Park Arboretum. It is his first stop before each class and he excitedly invites me or anyone else who is around to join him. The sap he is investigating comes from an extraordinary source, just outside of Forest Grove, the preschool center. A tall ponderosa pine tree whose bark has bubbled and buckled from some kind of fungus beneath the surface creates constant streams of sap pouring down in a slow-moving waterfall from 20 feet up its trunk. The sap is moving so slowly we have found spider webs build in the crevices of the bark with a lone drip suspended in the silk.

I encourage Alvin to dust his hands in dirt before touching the sap to make it easier to remove later, but he doesn’t always remember. That’s ok with me, though, because the fragrant scent of pine sap reminds me of my own childhood in New Mexico, playing in the pine trees and junipers. It also reminds me of why I started looking for an outdoor preschool two years ago to give my son the opportunities I had to explore nature free from the ever-present boundaries and dangers of the urban environment we are surrounded by in so much of Seattle.

IMG_7995When I discovered that Fiddleheads was expanding to a full year preschool located in the middle of the Arboretum, I felt as if the universe had bent around to fulfill this dream! I knew it was perfect when I discovered that forest grove is just across from the ancient Sequoia grove I loved to visit as an undergrad at the University of Washington when I lived near the Arboretum. The colors of autumn have been incredible to view each week driving to the school and the wide variety of leaves, berries, nuts and seed pods seems unending. After drop off or before pick up, I make some time for myself to enjoy the smells, sounds, sights and sightings alongside my child, so we can share the magic of the of the forest together. (I’m sure I saw a coyote tail bouncing in the brush one day!)

Occasionally, I will hear the sounds of little voices adventuring along as I am on my own walk and feel their excitement and wonder well up inside of me. I love to watch from afar as they gather sticks to build a “fire” or leaves to pile up and roll in and I inwardly thank all the forces, voices and advocates who came together to create this fantastic program.

Although my favorite sequoia grove is protected by a fence now to protect the fragile roots, their giant trunks and strong presence are a perfect example of why the Arboretum is such a treasure for Seattlites of all ages and I hope there will be many more classes of preschoolers and homeschoolers and every other age of schoolers out in appreciation all year round in this wonderous place!

(Karah Pino, MAcOM is the delighted parent of a Fiddlehead’s Forest student, the social media coordinator for the Women of Wisdom Foundation and she manages the blog Unwind your Mind and Get Creative!

Closing Night The Sacred Shadow Self: This Friday 7-10PM Mind Unwind Gallery

It has been an amazing month.  Thank you so much for all your support!

You are invited to attend the closing night celebration with performances and cupcakes!

(It’s my birthday party!!)

SSS FB Cover flat copy

Mind Unwind Gallery

2206A California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 849-7222
create@mindunwind.org

Sacred Shadow Self Opening Performance Tomorrow: Anonymous. Spontaneous. Dance. Meditation

The Anonymous Spontaneous Dancer reveals herself:

When Karah Pino first asked me to be part of The Sacred Shadow Self I was hesitant to say yes because I am in a “non-performance state”, a state of creative development, and quiet reflection.

My Mother almost passed away three times in the last several months and I had been doing a lot of advanced grieving, introspection and forgiveness work during that time and to be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed by my own shadow self and all I wanted to do was escape into the lighter side of things.

I knew I would ultimately say yes though because Karah is a spiritual sister and when she appears in my life there is always a positive lesson attached.

So yes. I will be there, with my veil on, I will be there, hidden amongst the crowd and yet obvious to the eyes of anyone who is present. I will be a shadow of my self, a ghost of sorts, a fraction of who I am. I am not entirely sure what I will be doing but maybe I will see you through the veil. And maybe you will see me.

Anonymous Dancer

Karah Pino in Mindful Meditation and the Anonymous Dancer will end the Opening performances at 8:30pm during Artwalk.

Karahs sacred shadowMind Unwind Gallery

2206A California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 849-7222

Meditation as Performance Art: Calling all Meditators!

Looking for Meditators of all traditions!

From Vipassana, QiGong Practitioners, Yogis and Yoginis to Kirtan Performers and other Meditation Practitioners to share your sacred practice in a sacred space for the benefit of people curious about meditation and interested in learning more about meditation. 

Please read the complete Artist Statement for more information.  You are encouraged to bring brochures or other informational materials to leave behind throughout the month long exhibition.

Performances are scheduled June 13th, during West Seattle Art Walk from 6p-9p and closing June 28th 7p-10p.  Other performances can be scheduled throughout the month at Mind Unwind Gallery in West Seattle.

Please fill out the form below to share your Sacred Self!

Blessings, Metta and Namaste,

Karah Pino – Artist and Meditator

Sacred Shadow Studio Update #1 – Origami-style Tree Shadow Maker

Making sacred tree shadows:

Playing with light and shadows is pretty fun!

Can’t wait to see how it turns out at Mind Unwind this June. I hope you enjoy exploring the space of the Sacred Shadow as if a 2 year old, in divine celebration of being in the world.  Hope to see you there!

-Karah Pino, MAcOM, Artist

media: paper, light, refractions and shadows 

performance: mindfulness, qigong, yoga, chanting, singing bowls,

and other meditative arts

“The Sacred Shadow Self” is an interactive art installation including live meditation performances opening June 2013 at Mind Unwind Gallery ~ West Seattle.