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Monkey Mind. Drawing in meetings.

01 Jul

Al Franken sketches Jeff Sessions during Elena Kagan hearings

No matter which side of the political spectrum you may land on, one has to admire our politicians for simply sitting through the seemingly endless, though important, hours of meetings and hearings that keep our country in sync.  A few days ago, a friend sent me an article about one such politician who was seen/caught sketching during a hearing.

Al Franken, Senator from Minnesota and a member of the judiciary committee, was sitting through the confirmation hearing of potential Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan.  During the long and arduous process, Franken was seen sketching the likeness of fellow judiciary committee member, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Depending on the political slant of the source, reports of this sketchy behavior ran from mildly amused to downright furious at this apparent show of boredom and lack of respect for our country’s due political process.

In Eastern traditions, there is a term called the Monkey Mind. It reflects our inability to mentally ‘sit still’.  Everyone has experienced this with the mind racing from thought to thought like a monkey jumping from tree to tree (especially during work meetings).  There are many thoughts on how to quiet the monkey mind, from yoga and meditation, to exercise and diet change.  During the research process for Drawing Down the Vision, we came across an article which states that doodling can help you pay attention.  After years of getting in trouble in school for doodling, it was refreshing to see evidence that students who draw during a lecture may actually be retaining more information and paying closer attention.

Which leads me back to Senator Franken.  Perhaps Franken was drawing in order to stay more focused on the content of the hearing.  Perhaps all of our politicians should be provided with some sketching supplies. Next time you are in a work or committee meeting where the content is important but difficult to stay excited about, try picking up a pen and paper and drawing.  You could sketch the furniture in the room, the people around you, or something from your inner landscape. Try to visually represent the information to help you see things differently. In the end, you may find you have quieted the monkey mind and are a more focused and active participant in the meeting.

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