Resisting Growth – a Meditation

On Sundays in my yoga class we focus on meditation. Every week we do a different form of meditation, because people find their way to inner stillness from many vectors. Today we practiced my own system, Drawing Meditations, where we use art to find insights, inner peace, and connection.

And it was a remarkable session that I want to share.

With only one student planning to attend today, I decided to pull out a new tool and give it a try. Candid Cards are a set of five questions and 70 word prompts. Created by Australian artist Candy Spender, the cards can be used in many ways to open up conversations and inner dialogues. Today, Toshiko and I used them as prompts for our drawing meditation.

Our question was “What are you resisting?” which can be a difficult and confronting one. How often do we think about what we resist? Sometimes what we resist is pushed into a dark corner to be ignored. Sometimes it is in the light as you actively fight against it. Either way, resistance is a challenge to approach in a meditation.

The prompt word – an answer to the question, maybe – was “growth.” Both Toshiko and I scratched our heads a bit then we got started with our drawings, letting our minds wander as the art led us to a place we might not have expected.

My Drawing Process

For my drawing, I began with a frame. Frames are frequent jumping off points for me. They limit my drawing space and make the blank page less intimidating. Also, frames are edges and growth exists beyond edges.

It seemed that a simple frame wasn’t enough. I kept going around and around, making a tangle of lines. A strong and supple frame.

This overlap brought to mind some “growth I am resisting” in the physical world – the weeds in my garden. I decided to color the spaces in the frame with a variety of greens to represent those weeds.

My conscious brain was still hung up on “what growth am I resisting?” and the question played over and over in my mind. Weeds was a facile answer. A joke, even if it was true. Surely there would be a deeper meaning?

After finishing the frame, I sat back and looked at the drawing. It was pretty but all that space in the middle needed something. I still didn’t have an answer. I wasn’t properly settled into the meditation.

I started to line the interior with scallops and bumps. Like with the frame, once around wasn’t enough. I made several layers of rounded shapes. They brought to mind teeth. Biting? Threatening me? I stopped before I reached the center.

I asked myself “What resistance am I depicting with weeds and teeth?” For some reason “You are resisting growth as an artist” popped into my mind. Well, I have been putting off doing art in favor of wasting time online (for which I am ashamed) and the only way to grow as an artist is to practice. So yeah…

At that point, I decided the center needed to show some light. A way forward. I picked my favorite color and shaded the area, lifting the purple with some cream towards the center and deepening the shadows in the pointy edges.

And when I looked up at the clock, it was already time to gather back and discuss our experience.


Toshiko described her drawing – a field of arrows pointing downward – as resistance to growing older and pressure to avoid illness and injury.

We had a conversation about growth through our lives. As children and young adults, we celebrate our physical, intellectual and emotional growth with various milestones. At some point we are considered adults and contributing members of society and the milestones aren’t as significant. Is that the end of growth?

Nature’s cycle for plants – seed to bloom, fruit to seed, growth to decay – applies to people, too. At least physically – we “grow up” and then we “grow older,” which is a euphemism for decay.

But my older friends aren’t decaying. They are growing in different, more subtle ways. Struggling less, enjoying more. Connecting differently to the world around them. Growth in spirit.

These thoughts put my own drawing into a different perspective completely.

The weeds that frame my drawing represent the physical world. Ever growing. No amount of weed-pulling will ever change that. Resistance is futile.

The violet light in the center is yogic union, enlightenment, collective unconscious, or what religions describe as the ultimate reward. Isn’t that what we strive for when we grow spiritually?

The teeth are my personal mountains and hurdles. Things I resist changing. Nobody wants to lose a tooth, do they? It hurts. But these teeth stand in the way of my growth towards enlightenment.

Well, well. From a frame of weeds to a clapback on my own spiritual resistance. I wasn’t expecting this message at all but I am going to listen to it.

Recent Posts
Mediatinker by MAIL

Join 31 other subscribers
Longer Ago

Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.