Monday, March 19, 2012

Flower Arranging: The saga continues

Some consider flower arranging a "disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together." In Japan, this approach to arranging is called ikebana.
"The spiritual aspect of ikebana is considered very important to its practitioners. Silence is a must during practices of ikebana. It is a time to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives. One becomes more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but also in general. Ikebana can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms. This is also the time when one feels closeness to nature which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul."
The flower arranging I do is not exactly ikebana but I would say it shares many of the aforementioned intentions. Trying to integrate with everything in the world around me, not just the people. Also simply feeling the pressure that my work, my arrangements, are out there for everyone to see and someone might even have an opinion or some feedback about them.

Sometimes I feel funny writing about my struggles with gardening or flower arranging because it certainly isn't a life or death situation or a "high-stress and fast-paced job. But one thing I am learning about or practicing with at Green Gulch is the truth that no job is more important than another. Everything has to get done by someone and if everything has to get done no one's skills or job is more valuable than another. Everyone will clean toilets, wash dishes or cook food.

So I don't know much about the forms of ikebana but I can share what I have learned about the arrangements I do. There are about 20 or so altars at Green Gulch that need flowers, and I assure you they are required and their absence is noticed (as I can attest after forgetting to put up the new vases before the lunchtime ceremony in which the head of practice period visits several altars). We change the flowers every Thursday regardless of their condition. For the first time this week I got to do one of the arrangements in the main meditation hall or zendo. It went well. So here's your tips, pardon me if I have repeated these in old posts :-)
  • Generally, the actual arrangement should be at least the same height as the vase it is going in
  • Take note of whether the arrangement will only be viewed front side or if it is in a position of 360 degree viewing
  • The flowers should be arranged so that they are all mostly visible, so that no flowers are being hidden by another; it's a waste of precious flowers
  • Often a front side arrangement looks nice if it makes a full circle above the vase; in other words you add greenery as a sort of halo around the flowers
  • A 360 degree arrangement may take the shape more like a mountain or cone
  • Don't get too complicated!

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