Meditative Moments

By Mariko Tu, Manager of Youth and Family Programs
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Buddha Shakyamuni, c. 1100, India: Tamil Nadu, granite

Buddha Shakyamuni, c. 1100, India: Tamil Nadu, granite, The Norton Simon Foundation

The Norton Simon Museum has always been a place of respite for visitors, allowing individuals the opportunity for an intimate experience with art. When the pandemic came to California a year ago, that respite was taken away when museums were required to close. Over the past year, the Norton Simon’s education department has created nearly three dozen brief recorded meditations paired with artworks from the collections. These online Meditative Moments were created as a way to contemplate and interact with art on a deeper level and to provide a sense of solace at home.

Studies show that viewing art activates parts of the brain associated with contemplation. Taking the time to look mindfully can bring a sense of calm to the mind and body. The challenges we faced last year and continue to face can feel overwhelming at times. We hope that these meditations on art will allow you to offer yourself a moment of compassion, to pause and be present and to experience stillness through your breath.

You are invited to select a theme among the Meditative Moments that best meets your needs in the moment. Each meditation was written with a theme in mind—hope, gratitude, loving-kindness—followed by a centering artwork connected to the theme. It has been fascinating to delve into the Norton Simon’s vast and remarkable collections and also to discover and highlight some works not usually on view.

Hokusai's Yōrō Falls in Mino Province and Van Gogh's Mulberry Tree

L: Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760-1849), Yōrō Falls in Mino Province (Mino no kuni Yōrō no taki), from the series A Tour of Waterfalls in Various Provinces (Shokoku taki meguri), c. 1832, color woodblock, Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase; R: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890), The Mulberry Tree, October 1889, oil on canvas, Norton Simon Art Foundation

By looking at art, we can make connections to our own lives for a personal and meaningful experience. These meditations on art can be practiced alone or with others. As a caregiver to my mother, a stroke survivor, it has been rewarding for me to do some of the meditations together with her. Her favorites have been the Letting Go Meditation featuring Hokusai’s Yōrō Falls in Mino Province and the Grounding Meditation on Van Gogh’s Mulberry Tree. At times, my mother has difficulty expressing herself with words, but the meditations provide us with a moment where we are connected through art and through breath.

Perhaps, as the flow and pace of our lives return to prepandemic levels, these meditative moments can inspire us to slow down again and really see and appreciate the people and the world around us.

Mariko Tu is Manager of Youth and Family Programs at the Norton Simon Museum.