Art as Contemplative Practice

Expressive Pathways to the Self

By Michael A. Franklin
Foreword by Christopher Key Chapple

Subjects: Art, Contemplative Studies, Yoga, Comparative Religion, Education
Paperback : 9781438464329, 340 pages, January 2018
Hardcover : 9781438464336, 340 pages, September 2017

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Table of contents

List of Figures, Tables, and Rubrics
Author’s Note
Simplified Sanskrit Pronunciation Guide
Abbreviated Glossary of Sanskrit Terms
Part I. Foundations, History, and Imaginal Awareness

1. Art as Contemplative Practice: Beginnings

2. Art as Contemplative Practice: Foundations

3. Snapshots of Western History and Lineage in Art as Contemplative Practice

4. Tasting and Seeing the Divine: Rasa, Darśan, and Art as Worship

5. Imaginal Intelligence and Contemplative Practice
Part II. Concerning the Contemplative in Art as Yoga and Meditation

6. Art as Yoga

7. Art as Meditation

8. Karma Yoga, Ahimsā, and the Socially Engaged Artist

9. Expressive Pathways to the Self
Part III. Exercises and Appendices

Appendix A: Imaginal Mindfulness Techniques, Exercises, and Materials
Appendix B: Core Principles of Art as Contemplative Practice and Accompanying Exercises
Appendix C: Rubrics

Illustration Permissions

Art as yoga and meditation for artists, contemplative practitioners, art educators, and art therapists.


Drawing upon his personal experience as a practitioner-researcher, visual artist, and cancer survivor, Michael A. Franklin offers a rich and thought-provoking guide to art as contemplative practice. His firsthand experience and original artwork complement this extensive discussion by consulting various practice traditions including yoga, rasa and darshan experiences, imaginal intelligence, and the contemplative instincts of select early twentieth-century artists. From this synthesis, Franklin suggests that we treat art as a form of yoga and meditation with the potential to awaken deeper insight into the fundamental nature of the Self. Exercises and rubrics are included that offer accessible instruction for any artist, meditation or yoga practitioner, art educator, or art therapist.

Michael A. Franklin is Professor and Chair of the Graduate Transpersonal Art Therapy Program at Naropa University.


"This is a thoroughly groundbreaking work that demonstrates how art can be a contemplative way of being and pathway to the Self. It reveals the creative, imaginal side of our humanity to be a sacred ground from which grows the wholeness of both the individual practitioner and the larger community. " — Fran Grace, University of Redlands

"One of the book's notable features is the author's honesty, candor, and openness in discussing the healing benefits of contemplative creativity in his own experience. " — William K. Mahony, Davidson College

"The book's breadth of experiments and useful images in art therapy and meditative traditions is its greatest strength. " — Cliff Edwards, Virginia Commonwealth University