Category Archives: Drawings

Being & Doing. Making happy work.

When being and doing are brought together work, in fact all action becomes play infused with creativity and joy. In fact creativity is joy.

 Everything done in this spirit becomes yoga, which transforms you. It creates as well as being creative.

It doesn’t matter if you design cathedrals or work in merchant bank. They are both important. Working in this way brining being and doing together transcend what you do.

Working this way this way requires a change of perspective. Instead of concentrating more on the future result or outcome of what your doing, or what will happen afterwards focus more on what you are doing right now. In other words be present to the moment rather that on your perceived relationship to it.

This voluntary suspension of desire, judgment and expectation as one undertakes action requires practice and in business the right culture.

It take inspirational leadership, which these days, is in short supply. Many people confuse management techniques, meetings and spreadsheets with true leadership. Its hard to imagine any HR department or management process employing this technique rather than focus instead on KPI’s, outputs and productivity.

This technique once caught and applied you will notice there is joy hidden inside every action, moment-by-moment. You don’t need to change what you do. Just change how you do it. One doesn’t need to hid away in a mountain cave or undertake extreme adventures to know this truth. The joy of being action is literally at your fingertips. Now!

When I work on my drawing board or in my sketch book I pick up my pen.. I know with right mind set and attention there is sheer concentrated joy in this if I allow myself to know it. It is natural and innate but if I stop resisting. Softness, a flowing effortlessness rises up instantly infusing the whole body.

The ideal Arjuna, is to be intensively active and at the same time have no selfish motives, no thoughts or personal gain or loss. Work and action uncontaminated by desire leads to inner peacefulness and increased effectiveness. This is the secret art of living a life of real achievement. Bhagavad Gita 2.48

Attending to what you are doing in this way you will notice, in even the smallest everyday experience, a flowing sense of potential and effortless purpose. And it will grow towards a deeper feeling of peace and resilience in your every day active life through the union of being and doing – work and joy- yoga of action.

How do we do this?

Simple, we sit back and watch the show. Its called yoga.

Happy Spontaneous Me!

This week we hosted our Yoga In Action workshop, Happy Spontaneous Me! in collaboration with Chorlrton Arts Festival.

This is real YOGA. Otherwise know as the Yoga of Action.

It’s like an active meditation. Where we merge being and doing into one. We use simple techniques such as repetitive and flowing mark making as a way of connection moment to moment with what we are doing. We use this as ‘flow’ producing activity that everyone can do.

Its fun. But it’s also a serious practice. In many ways this is advanced yoga!

Don’t worry though… This is yoga practice off the mat and into the realm of everybody lives. It teaches you to take notice, observe and be in harmony with what ever you are doing. Sometimes called the science of autotelic experience, or ‘flow’ is when we fully direct and our consciousness into and with whatever we are doing purely for its own sake.

The experience is spontaneous happiness and joy. In yoga science Happy Spontaneous Me points to a deeper form of yoga practice called Karma Yoga or the yoga of action. This is essential and fundamental practice is where we change of mode of thought from trying to exert force over what we do towards a desired result to aligning out action to our inner harmony and intuition.

Most people confine themselves to never ending treadmill of expectation, desires, and rewards. It causes frustration, anger, jealousy and unhappiness. But its possible to step off the treadmill, still be in the world but free once we learn know where real happiness and creative contentment is.

But I am not creative…I cant draw. Oh yes you can.

Everyone can, that’s the whole point. The fact is that when you are in your yoga flow self-created expectations, desires or limiting feelings about oneself are stilled. They simply do not matter. You will feel in total control, present and fulfilled. In the workshop emphasis is letting go, observing and learning to finish meaning and joy in the ongoing experience of the workshop tasks.

During the workshop we learn to:

  • Understand how to make any activity into a flow or yoga experience.
  • Unlock your creative flow and liberate your inner joy
  • Develop a sense of meaning, effortless control and involvement in what you are doing.
  • Discover a deeper a sense of self and purpose.
  • Feel what it means to be totally present and not lost in an imagined future or past.  

The term autotelic derives from the Greek with, ‘auto’ meaning, self, and ‘telos’ meaning goal or task. In yoga we would call this ‘Being and doing’ or more accurately karma yoga, yoga of action where work is done not with some future reward or expectation in mind but just for the sheer joy of doing it.

When we pay attention to the activity for its own sake, not thinking about consequences or we fall in to the present.

We are in our own yoga state or ‘union’ – the goal of yoga. We are the conduit for the Flow producing activity.


Getting into the Flow

I have just completed a short workshop with the students called, ‘Spontaneous Thinking’ designed to help them relax a little more, get around creative blocks, ignore the inner critic and get into their flow.

The idea is understand that we operate between two different types of thinking, divergent (being) and convergent (doing) thinking. Designers in particular need to combine and constantly alternate been the two modes of operation.

The workshop set out to introduce a mindset that put to one side the rational and mechanical thinking required by a design brief and move into a new relationship with the requirements of the task. In the same way as so many other artists and designers the idea is to trust internal intuitive, intention and consciousness – and when the mind is calm and open the new ideas and solutions can unfold.

Using timed and focused metacognitive and meditation techniques the workshop combined drawing exercises to help them build personal awareness and apply a different sort of attention. The idea is to help bring them to the present and focus on the act of drawing and creating rather than ones relation to it. Working this way helps them let-go and bring joy and delight to their work which is the only way one can truly create

The workshop is fun but it devas have a serious intent. Happiness and creativity are the same thing. When you get it right you can learn to thrive…

The course is ideal for anyone, not just young designers. By learning to shift ones attention and expectation in a certain way, learning how to combine being and doing its possible to switch on optimum performance anytime, anywhere.

Out of the box!

At long, last artist Martin Nash and I have finally completed Phase 1 of our art project.

I have taken over a year on this I can say its been challenging trying to squeeze pretending to be an artist with yoga teaching at the YLP and the Founding of beanddo this year as well as designing more master plans.

This is how it the project works:

  1. Both artists fill a small box with stuff. It can be anything.
  2. Both artists then swap the boxes.
  3. They then have to make art with or be inspired by stuff they find in the box.
  4. Both artists then work. The idea is that both choose to do something outside what they would normally do. A chance to explore and challenge. To think outside of the box! (geddit!)
  5. When complete both artists make a small exhibition and invite each other over to review and discuss the work fuelled with lots of wine.

Here is a picture of my work. I was keen to look at scanning, repetition and collage. Similar,  to my assemblage work but on paper.

Phase 2 has yet to start but the idea is that each artist now chooses a piece from each other’s work and develops it further.

Here is Martin and me holding each other up in the office in front of my Out of the Box work…

Chorlton Arts Festival

Mick showed some of his artworks from Spontaneous Places at the Chorlton Arts Festival.  The original plan was to build a small city in the garden but the Manchester rain stopped that from happening. So the city spontaneously moved into the entrance hall of Mick’s house where much wine was consumed…

Spontaneous stuff….

This week we managed to put the Spontaneous Places exhibition over at the RIBA Hub. The Preview is on Tuesday evening 5.30 – 8.00pm. This is your invitation to come along…we have wine!

The work is simply stuff I do in the basement. Its intuitive and spontaneous, hence the title and its really about the process rather than the product. I rely on found material to shape these places. An assembly or a drawing starts with things coming together without a plan. You see things, stumble upon them. Its mostly accidental  but you seem to know how it works. Shapes, forms and lines intertwine, collide and intertwine again…you don’t know why this happens. It just pours out. Very much like the wine!

See you on Tuesday…


Here are two shots of Passport Office. I think it might be finished now. Built around the carcass of a kitchen cupboard I found in a skip.  Most of the over skin is made of found objects painted with textured external paint. If you look closely you will find some small figures standing on the roof.

The name is a reference to Apollo House in Croydon which used to be the UK Passport Office. Built in the late 60’s it too has a wonderful wing on its roof.

Passport office 2Passport office