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Secret Body, Secret Self: Art and Meditation

by Hellen Eberhardie Dunn

All images copyright Hellen Eberhardie Dunn

candles 108 Crystal Lotuses: A Prayer For Peace U.C.C.S. Gallery of Contemporary Art 2004

Mirror wisdom - clear and open to what is - not what we want it to be.

there is a soul in the heart of each tiny particle –
when the soul sings, the particles dance –
this is resonance
my joy in sculpting, performance and installation
is sensing that soul more clearly
and magnifying the dance.

Blood Banner Blood Banner, U.C.C.S. Heller Center, 2004

We are brought up to think that perfection is something without flaws, and so it is hard to approach the idea that we do in fact embody primordial essence, joy, containing all imperfections.

Happiness Kanji Flame Happiness Kanji Flame

Fire - breathes through space, supported by water and earth.

Lotus Lotus, 2008

Gnosis - self knowing. Native cultures everywhere insist on the presence of spirit indwelling. Connection to the primordial state creates openness, warmth and bliss.

Listening Listening - Hearing and seeing without judgement

I was probably about twelve years old, that transformational time when changes rip through body and soul. Tempest-tossed, I walked alone in the woods or on the beach, flying with the seagulls, soul twanging in and out of joy and despair. Sometimes I would stop moving, still in the sunlight, dissolving, motes of light filling me to overflowing. “I” winked out - no space left for naming - sad - happy - good - bad - simply feeling completeness in that moment.

Disappearing Fire Disappearing Fire, India, 1997
Sky Dancing Floating Sky Head Hand in the Sky

It took me years to “confess” to these blissful experiences, despite the fact that my life had become a quest to rediscover and understand them. In secret, I sought out ways to make that connection again: poetry, music, art and other ways less highbrow and sophisticated.

snow spirit 2001Snow Spirit, 2001

For years I searched, catching glimpses, experiencing moments, reading snippets, driven by my secret knowledge, unwilling to share the depth of my longing for fear of being misunderstood or disrespected, my nectar misappropriated. I put myself in awkward, uncomfortable situations because I have found that reaching beyond my conditioning reveals doorways to my beloved connection. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it is just plain scary! I approach material as a doorway to the sensory gates of my body/mind, knowing that there is joy in not knowing, letting the experience of making conjure reverence and awe.

A ‘body’ of work later…. 35 years of art, rock climbing, yoga, trance dancing, travel and home making, I am here. Grounded in my daily practice of mediation, sitting, walking, dancing, stretching, singing, teaching - ART.

About the author

Hellen Eberhardie Dunn

Hellen Eberhardie Dunn has a Master’s Degree in sculpture from the Royal College of Art, and she is an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. She has an upcoming exhibition of her new work at the Manitou Arts Center in Manitou Springs, Colorado from January 15 to March 5, 2016. She takes commissions, teaches workshops and sells her artwork. Contact her at

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