On Yoga

YOGA The Secret Life by Francesco Mastalia, Cloth Hardcover, 224 Pages, Published by powerHouse Books, Worldwide release October 2017.

YOGA The Secret of Life is a photo-documentary about the spiritual and physical journey of yoga. Through photographs and text this fine art book explores the personal experiences of 108 of today’s leading practitioners and how this ancient practice has transformed their mind, body, and spirit.

The photographs for the project are taken on glass plates using the wet collodion process, a photographic technique dating back to the 1850’s. With the use of a large format wooden camera and antique brass lens, glass plates are hand-coated to produce one-of-a-kind ‘ambrotype’ images. The collodion process transports us to another place and time. When the light-sensitive chemicals absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays, we enter a mysterious world where art and alchemy embrace. The photographs take on another dimension with the words that accompany them. The text provides an intimate and enlightening account of each yogi’s personal journey.

Elena Brower from YOGA The Secret Life by Francesco Mastalia.

Beyond the physical postures, YOGA The Secret of Life delves deep into the purpose of our existence and how to live a happy and fulfilled life. It explores understanding who we truly are, why we are here, and what our ultimate purpose is on this planet. Included are world-renowned yogis Radhanath Swami, Sharon Gannon, Davide Life, Gurmukh Kaur Khasla, Sri Dharma Mittra, Yogi Amrit Desai, Yogiraj Alan Finger, Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Seane Corn, Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman Yee, Dana Flynn, Elena Brower, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal and more.

About

Italian-born Hudson Valley New York-based Francesco Mastalia is a documentary photographer and author that has traveled the world photographing tribal, religious, spiritual, and indigenous people. His first book Dreads, published by Workman Artisan is a photo documentary on the history of dreadlocks, which includes an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. His recent book Organic: Farmers & Chefs of the Hudson Valley published by powerHouse Books is a photo-documentary of the Hudson Valley’s organic sustainable food movement. The portraits of the farmers and chefs therein were also photographed using the wet plate collodion photographic process resulting in a beautifully evocative narrative with a nostalgic feel.

Summer Day

… Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver

Poem The Summer Day by Mary Oliver & Illustrated Quote by Lisa Congdon. Happy Summer Solstice! The Artful Blog is taking an annual blogosphere hiatus through the Summer. Projects to create. Art to make. Journeys to take. Mysteries to contemplate. For body spirit peace of mind sake. See you on social media intermittently & back here in the Fall. Until then, enjoy the archives & the season!

Arise Festival

ARISE Musical Festival 5th Year Celebration August 4th-6th, 2017.  A musically diverse, festival-wonderland experience. Featuring 8 stages of live music, yoga, workshops, provocative documentary films and panel discussions, art installations, live painters and art gallery, performance artists, theme camps, a Wisdom Village and a Solution’s Village -showcasing ecological and social justice solutions with practical on-site demonstrations designed to make our world a better place, and more on 100+ beautiful mountain valley acres. Located at Sunrise Ranch -a 350-acre organic farm and retreat center located in a stunning Colorado mountain valley just west of the town of Loveland, this breathtaking Rocky Mountain oasis is the perfect container for participants to entertain and be entertained, explore their creative potential, connect with nature, stretch out, dive in, and dance. #arisethisaugust

About

The consummate summer camping festival for conscientious music fans -ARISE is renowned for bold and progressive “global cooling” initiatives, such as a long-held commitment to planting one tree with every ticket sold, staging a pre-festival permaculture training, local sourcing, an organic farmer’s market in the campground, and a leave-no-trace ethos. More than a music festival, it’s a movement. See here for lineup & tickets.

Note: The Artful Blog’s alma mater Naropa University has aligned with ARISE and is offering a discount on festival tickets to the Naropa community -current students & alumni.

Making Good

Making Good: An Inspirational Guide To Being An Artist Craftsman by Jacklyn Scott (Author), Kristin Müller (Author), Tommy Simpson (Author), Stuart Kestenbaum (Foreword), 2017.

Forty-one craftspeople answer the questions of who, what, when, where, and how he or she started and maintains a career in the arts. Accompanied by more than 260 photos showing the artists, their work spaces, and their creations, each interview gives experience-based answers to anyone interested in the lives of artists. For students and career changers to makers at all levels, this resource captures insight into the entrepreneurial nature of living a life in the arts and the choices, bits of luck, joys, and tenacity one needs to overcome hurdles in useful and surprising ways. The 41 artists from across the United States work in many types of media; they include, for example, woodturner Dixie Biggs, fiber artist Carol Eckert, metalsmith Pat Flynn, glass artist Judith Schaecter and ceramist Mara Superior. As their answers unfold, what develops is a collection of independent voices that follow unique, creative journeys in the arts, despite the twists and turns life takes. This distillation of expertise is a valuable resource to all who are considering a creative career. Great gift for artist hopeful grad!

One of The Artful Blog’s favorite New England independent bookstores,  The Hickory Stick Bookshop Washington Depot CT, will host a book signing with authors Kristin Muller & Jacklyn Scott and local artist Tommy Simpson June 17th 2017.

Art Of The Harvest

Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants by Stefani Bittner & Alethea Harampolis, Ten Speed Press, 2017. 

A beautifully photographed, gift-worthy guide to growing, harvesting, and utilizing 47 unexpected garden plants to make organic pantry staples, fragrances, floral arrangements, beverages, beauty products, gifts & more. Every garden can produce a bountiful harvest! This practical, inspirational, and seasonal guide will help make any garden more productive and enjoyable with a variety of projects using surprising and often common garden plants, some of which may already be growing in your backyard.

Early Mid Late Season Index & Plants & Produce Pages From Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants.

Discover the surprising usefulness of petals and leaves, roots, seeds, and fruit: turn Tumeric Root into a natural dye and Calamintha into lip balm. Make Anise Hyssop into a refreshing iced tea and turn Apricots into a facial mask. Crabapple branches can be used to create stunning floral arrangements, Oregano flowers to infuse vinegar, and edible Chrysanthemum to liven up a salad. With the remarkable, multi-purpose plants in Harvest, there is always something for gardeners to harvest from one growing season to the next.

Oregano Flower Infused Vinegar & Vin d’Orange & Fruit & Herb Wreath Pages From Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants.

Floral Branch Arrangement & Lavender Mint Tea & Rose Water Skin Toner Pages From Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants.

Sage Garland & Calendula Infused Essential Oil & Mid-Season Herb Salad Pages From Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants.

Spring Project Lilac Flower Cream Recipe From Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants.

An ancient French technique, enfleurage is the process of extracting a flower’s perfume into odorless vegetable fat. The process used here is a simple method that will capture the fragrance of Spring in a jar. The cream can be used directly on your skin or to flavor favorite sweet dishes. It is best to use the Lilac’s tiny blooms straight from the shrub, picking them in the morning when they are the most fragrant.

Ingredients & Directions: 

  • 32 ounces extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 10 cups lilac blooms picked from the heads in 2 cup increments as needed
  • Pick 2 cups of lilac blooms. Place the coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt over low heat until it is completely liquefied. Pour the liquid into a 10 by 10-inch casserole dish and allow it to harden. After the oil has hardened, score it with a butter knife. This will help the scent of the flowers penetrate it more deeply. Layer the tiny lilac blooms onto the oil, covering it with 2 inches of blooms. Place a second 10 by 10-inch casserole dish upside down atop of the first one. Use electrical tape to seal the two dish edges tightly, and place the dishes in a dark area.
  • After 48 hours, remove the tape seal and discard the spent blooms. Pick another 2 cups of lilacs, add another 2 inches of flower blooms to the oil, and seal again for another 48 hours. Repeat this process three more times, for a total of five cycles with fresh blooms each time.
  • Scrape up the oil from the casserole dish, place it into two 16-ounce jars, and seal the lids. Store in a cool, dark place; the flower cream will keep for up to 3 years.

Stefani Bittner & Alethea Harampolis Of Homestead Design Collective & Their Previous Books.

About

Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis are the owners of Homestead Design Collective, a San Francisco landscape design firm focused on creating beautiful gardens that provide harvest. Homestead provides design and full-service organic maintenance, harvesting, bee keeping, floristry & composting services. Stefani is the co-author of The Beautiful Edible Garden: Design A Stylish Outdoor Space Using Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs (Ten Speed Press, 2013) and Alethea is the co-author of the best-selling books, The Flower Recipe Book & The Wreath Recipe Book: Year-Round Wreaths, Swags, and Other Decorations to Make with Seasonal Branches (Artisan 2013 & 2014).  Stefani and Alethea’s work has been featured in San Francisco Chronicle, Sunset Magazine, C Magazine, Los Angeles Times, NY Times, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens Gardenista.

On Mantra

Mantra and its practice are part of ancient Vedic tradition first developed by wise spiritualists who connected the sounds of the natural world around them to a greater universal energy. They saw sound and its vibrational quality as the audible manifestation of the energy to which we are all connected. They recognized that no matter who or where in the world a person is, if one sit’s quietly long enough, one can hear those connective sounds, and not only that, but can achieve peace through the concentrated practice of listening and repeating them. The sages began to mimic such sound patterns that they heard as a form of meditation, achieving a greater sense of clarity, awareness, and transcendent peace. This same concept, thousands of years later, can be appropriated to bring us closer to our highest self and to achieving what we most desire.

Traditional Mantra Meditation uses existing Sanskrit hymns and chants that have been shared and practiced apart of Vedic tradition. These mantras are typically vocations towards certain deities for blessings specific to them. The sounds of these prayers said in repetition are meant to induce a deeper meditative state, such as when a lullaby soothes a child to sleep. The linguistic nature of traditional mantra and the quality of their sounds works to quiet mental chatter and fosters a peaceful environment for the body and mind to exist. Examples of traditional mantras are: Om (ohm): The simplest to repeat, yet a powerful acknowledgement of connection between all beings. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (lo-kah sah-mah-stah sue-kee-no bah-vain-to): Asking for peace and contentment for all living things. Om namah shivaya (Ohm nah-mah she-vah-yah): An acknowledgement of the power, beauty, and unique perfection of another being.

Personal or Unique Mantra is another way of approaching the practice and benefiting from it. Just as is true of thoughts, there are no right or wrong mantras. Rather, your mantra is based on personal experience, and holds power as an individual and unique expression of what you most desire. Whether it be aimed at manifesting security, deep connection, pervasive self-confidence, or release from suffering, the only requirement of mantra is that it is authentic.

Spend a half hour with your journal, preferably in the morning when your mind is fresh, free-writing about what it is you desire at this moment in time. Without over-analyzation or personal judgement, let it flow freely. Writing it down will help you to gain clarity on what is most pertinent for you in the current moment. Decide which idea, goal, concept, emotion, etc., it is you want to focus on first. Once you have a sense of it in your mind, turn it into a declarative statement. Imagine you already have what you are looking to attract as part of your reality.

The Personal Mantra is an individualized expression. A concentrated effort to help you achieve stillness, and peace and ultimately aids in creating your optimal reality. Whatever that is for you at this moment, is right. As a side note, you can have multiple mantras at the ready, however when meditating with the mantra, it is important to repeat only one at a time in order to focus your energy towards one thing instead of smaller efforts towards multiple goals.

Mantra Recipe

  • 1/2 hour spent alone journaling about what you seek to attain
  • Refinement of what speaks to you as the most pertinent to focus on
  • Written declarative statement
  • 10 minutes daily quiet time sitting or walking slowly to repeat your mantra
  • Try incorporating mantra into your meditation practice and pay attention to what arises

Beyond Words

Tilt your head slightly to one side and lift your eyebrows expectantly. Ask questions. Delve into the subject at hand or let things come randomly. Don’t expect answers. Forget everything you’ve ever done. Make no comparisons. Simply listen. Listen with your eyes, as if the story you are hearing is happening right now. Listen without blinking, as if a move might frighten the truth away forever. Don’t attempt to copy anything down. Don’t bring a camera or a recorder. This is your chance to listen carefully. Your whole life might depend on what you hear.

~Joyce Sutphen

Sangha Cinema

2017 Lion’s Roar BuddhaFest Online Film Festival June 12th-July 23rd. Curated Sangha Cinema: A cinematic experience that skillfully joins the wisdom, diversity, and art of Buddhism in six carefully selected films & six dharma talks by leading contemporary teachers of buddhist wisdom of our time. Films: A Thousand Mothers; Don’t Know; Tzu Chi: Doing Good In The World; One Mind; Wandering; Drokpa. Teachers: Sharon Salzberg; Noah Levine; Ani Choying Drolma & Dawa Tarchin Phillips; Mushim Patricia Ikeda; Christiane Wolf; Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. Festival access, discounts and privileges for current and new subscribers to Lion’s Roar Magazine. Festival Pass + Film & Teacher Details here.