The Way of the Brush
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UW Health Integrative Medicine's Mindfulness Program recently hosted "Healing With The Brush," a seminar on shodo with master calligrapher and teacher, Kazuaki Tanahashi.
The Moment of the Brush
During the seminar, participants learned the basic skills of brushwork by reproducing ideograms from ancient Chinese masterpieces.
They were also encouraged to interpret these works, improvise and witness mindfulness, surprise, and joy while exploring presence with the moment of the brush.
"Discovering mindfulness through Zen calligraphy was the design of the weekend experience," said UW Health Integrative Medicine Mindfulness Program manager Katherine Bonus. "With his gentle teaching and skillful guidance, Kaz offered participants opportunities to experience the gifts of meditation through experiencing the brush. A wonderful weekend of art, laughter, silence, joy and new beginnings!"
Seminar participants: The "moment of the brush."
"Each movement was made with intention, from preparing the brush with ink to feeling the brush stroke on the paper. A favorite moment was when Kaz would ask, 'Do you feel like you are getting worse? Are you still smiling?' The workshop was a beautiful experience. This was my second workshop with Kaz, each one the same and yet different. I enjoyed the size of the class, the periods of silence and the gentle instruction."
"I continue to be very touched by how Kaz relates the practice of calligraphy to the cultivation of happiness in daily living."
From Chris, who attended with his wife Ann:
"My wife remarked at the end of the day that she was used to doing calligraphy with steel pens. She said that she began using one of Kazuaki's large brushes and that she felt 'freedom' in using the bigger brushes. She was so inspired that she ordered several brushes and will be incorporating some of what she experienced into her high school art program."
"Kaz's non-judgemental presence permeated the retreat and held me, a novice calligrapher, in spaciousness and acceptance regardless of the beginner status of my strokes."
"It was liberating. The process of beginning again each new brushstroke, attempting to duplicate the calligraphy 'master example,' seeing the result and the judgments the mind had about them, putting them aside and beginning again - eventually the mind relaxed and more pleasing results emerged or a more accepting and appreciating mind emerged!"
About Kazuaki Tanahashi
Kazuaki Tanahashi is a calligrapher, painter and writer whose early training was in Japan. He is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and has had solo exhibitions of his brushwork around the world.
Kaz has been a peace and environmental worker for decades. He is also a highly respected translator of Dogen - the founder of Soto Zen.
Last fall the San Francisco Zen Center held a two-day international symposium to celebrate the upcoming release of Kaz's landmark complete translation of Dogen's essays: Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo.