With the arrival of spring, students and faculty at Storm King have been taking every opportunity to teach and learn outside while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. For students in Global Studies Art, the lawn next to the Allison Vladimir Art Center was the perfect place to bring their current study of Buddhism to life through deep breathing and meditation exercises.
According to teacher Mr. Ben Harnick, the class has been discussing faiths, philosophies, and ethical systems (FPES): “Currently, we are focusing on Buddhism. Zen Buddhism emphasizes meditation as a way of attaining the metaphysical enlightenment required to free one’s self from the never ending cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth. I wanted the students to get a feel for meditation and the relaxation deep breathing can bring, especially after being indoors for so long.” Following their meditation session, the students also painted an enso circle–another form of Zen Buddhist meditative art.
According to Mr. Harnick, the students enjoyed the exercise, many expressing simple joy in being outdoors, and others reporting they felt very relaxed afterwards: “For many of my students, it was the first time they ever tried meditating. They also enjoyed the calming sounds of Tibetan prayer and the singing bowl in the background. One student asked if we could meditate every day.”
Global Studies Art surveys the course of world history through the art and culture which shaped that history. “So far this year, we have studied the history and causes of global pandemics, human migration, and now, FPES. Once we finish our unit which includes Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Zoroastrianism, we will move on to study the Abrahamic Faiths and Greek Philosophers. Then, we’ll proceed through more western cultural history with the Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque periods,” continued Mr. Harnick.
With so many interesting topics, Mr. Harnick is determined to find creative ways for his students to learn outside the classroom. “Now that the weather is more favorable, Taoist nature painting is next on the agenda. We will also have outdoor discussion groups and more experiential activities to come,” he continued.