An Intention of Doing

To just breathe actually requires a fair amount of attention, developing the craft of watching things come up and letting them go. That intention is the first thing to set which is for sense input, a creaking wall can generate a hundred thoughts of doom says the homeowner. Bad smells can create even more doom. But if you look at those sense inputs (which include thoughts) and realize they can create only three kinds of feelings positive, negative and neutral, the hundred thoughts of doom are fabricated out of the labels you apply to it, you then group those labels into stories and soon you’re worried about your houses collapse.

Understanding that process is going on almost continuously as we live is important because then you can say, just a negative feeling and stop there. That process of noticing this sequence is what you are doing over and over again.

IN doing a drawing breaking your craft down helps immensely in setting your intention for your work. Make a list of what you are doing when you draw, gesture, composition, form, light and shade, costume, expression. Then do just that, one panel at a time. It’s just to easy to jump into an expression, a costume detail or a cool little background piece when I am working on a composition and or a gesture.

The moment I go off of just that one thing is when the problems start and my brain wanders off seeing something that creates a negative or positive feeling. Evaluation happens when you finish the drawing not when you are working.

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A+++++ or D- What is Evaluation

Buddha’s big question was , “What makes me happy without hurting anyone else?” Anyone includes everything from mosquitos to the myriad demons and demonesses swiped from other cultures that practice was going on in. His solution, finding the pleasure in the breath so you can let go of desires eating away at you.

How does this apply to comics? That’s what I’m working on. I tried this approach to driving yesterday. Going north my brain started chewing on whatever I was mad at when I left. The right turn went by without really checking at the other corners by rolling thru the stop sign. Not a big deal as the street is usually pretty empty. But not really safe and no solving the problem. So I set my intention on driving. Just checking my hands, the street, scanning the space as what is important. The next left turn was done with calm and checking but up the street suddenly the issue was global climate change in my head and I barely reached the end of the block.

The trip was a constant lose attention, reset my intention on driving, lose and reset and an endless process. Driving while more complicated then breathing is still not comics. the challenge is to bring each step of comics into existence and then set the attention on that, not the whole process of doing comics.

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Resolve Yourself to Directed Thought

Depending on the translation the second step on Buddha’s path is right Resolve or Intention. Making the choice to do this one thing. In Buddhas case pay attention to the breath, in my case draw funny books. Often people think paying attention is no big deal and sex, exercise, hunting even cooking is the same thing as paying attention to the breath. In comics only writers think doing comics is no big deal and everyone else is overwhelmed by doing them. Even as a professional comics hack, I always thought doing comics was no big deal until I started trying to do my own.

But what meditation teaches is the actual skill of paying attention to one thing. Just setting your intention is a start but the mind always wanders off. As you focus on the breath you need to explore that idea, evaluate what it is doing and see how it works. In comics you need to evaluate the lines you are drawing, the shapes you are making, the story you are telling and is this sequence, panel all working. The third factor is singleness are you doing just this one thing.

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First Steps into the Second step

I can’t do a thing without an intention to do that thing. So to practice, “I am going to pay attention to my breath”. I take a breath and think about food. So I reset my intention on the breath. Then think about comics. Science has shown that multitasking doesn’t exist, so how do you do one thing?

Look at each action you take as steps, drinking coffee, is reaching, picking up and bringing it to the lips, swallowing, putting back down again. Every action, in Buddhism thoughts are actions too, starts with an intention followed by the next moment where you are doing one of the steps. Each of these tiny little micro-steps provide an opportunity for the choice of another path. My hand is stiff and hurts when I reach for the coffee, my brain wanders to MS, carpal tunnel, how many stretches I did in the morning and I can spend hours moaning about any of those.

The trick is, try and watch my intentions arise to head off on other paths when I select what is next. Obviously this happens so fast I”m not going to see it when I drink my coffee. And do I really want to spend my day focused on my coffee drinking habits? I”d never get anything done.

That’s why I spend the time meditating on the breath. It’s simple, always there and I can focus on it. Buddha offers steps, first how long is each breath, then what is happening in my body, what is fabricated from this breath and how it feels in my feet, fingers head and across my whole body.

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