Andrew Berkley Sharp is a 25 year-old social worker living just south of Seattle. He has been interested in meditation since his late teens, writing, “I was a bit depressed at the time, experiencing periods of insomnia along with fluctuations in weight, and when I encountered Buddhist philosophy and meditation it was very much a moment of something mentally “clicking” into place for me. I was studying psychology at the time, and I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Psychology, focusing mostly on child development.”
He continues, “It was around the same time that I encountered meditation, and the various literature on the subject, that I also became much more interested in drawing and it’s relation to the concept of psychological “flow.” To me, Zen Buddhism, as well as the Hindu practice of karma yoga(the way of work, as they say) gave me a way to use something I loved (drawing) and to merge it with something that would help me (meditation). To this day I find it easiest to meditate while creating something, and it has improved my art as well. Drifting mentally and allowing pictures and shapes to emerge without an attachment to the outcome of the picture gave me clarity, confidence, and calm. It has become the foundation of my belief that meditation is not only useful, but an innate practice for human beings, however the forms of it should be left to the individual to find for his/herself.”
In April he put his love of meditation and talent for illustrating together to create the children’s meditation book Hey Mama!, a short walk through the what and why of meditation, as told to a child by his mother.
I asked Andrew what led to the creation of the book:
The book came to mind because in my current job, I frequently find myself having difficult conversations with other people, and in those experiences I have found that conflicts and problems between people are almost entirely due to a lack of the ability for two individuals to express their desires and thoughts effectively with one another, which becomes a frustration with the other person, and eventually a conflict and negative belief about that person.
“I just sit and breathe,” the mother responds, provoking the all-too-common, “wow… that sounds really… boring,” response that most any meditator has encountered.
The mother goes on to explain the concepts of mindfulness, understanding cause and effect and impermanence, resilience, and savoring; all in the span of a few pages and in terms that even a toddler can grasp.
These are all aspects of meditation as it is commonly taught in modernized Buddhism. For a good overview of savoring and mindfulness, this Dharma talk by Pamela Lewis will be helpful.
The book is coming from a place of belief that if meditation is explained in the simplest terms possible, it will become available to more people as they will find that they have already meditated in some way at some time. Whether it’s on a walk, fishing, or just being with a loved one. I feel it is a tragedy for anyone to lose the opportunity to learn this practice because of a believe that it is something which it is not, and to miss the chance for a simpler existence.
For a limited time, Hey Mama! will be available as a perk on the Guideful.org IndieGoGo fundraising campaign here.