Una Keeley is a professional Irish Artist, Educator and HSE approved Mindfulness Instructor. She has designed educational programmes for arts organisations and institutions for over 25 years, including 15 years for the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Her background includes an Honours Degree in Ceramics, a Masters in Art Education, and a Diploma in Mindfulness & Well-being. She has been using mindfulness practices in her workshops for over 15 years. Una is an MBSR Mindfulness Instructor Trained with the Institute for Mindfulness Based Approaches, IMA Germany, and has been practicing meditation for 25 years.
Una Adheres to The Irish Good Practice Guidelines for Teaching Mindfulness-Based Courses.
(*MBSR= Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction as pionered by Jon Kabat Zinn )
At 7 years of age I decided I wanted to become an artist. My father was a self employed resourceful builder. He worked with all sorts of interesting materials and encouraged each of my siblings and I, to be courageous, inventive explorers. Putty, nails, wood, poly-filler, insulation tape and gloss paint, were exciting materials we were encouraged to handle, investigate and play with. My mother taught us to sew, knit, crochet, bake, invent and question everything. Every Christmas Santa would fill our stockings with coloring books, paints, pencils and ‘Flying Eagle oil pastels’. We lived in Dublin, so we could get BBC on our television in the 1970’s. This meant Tony Heart, Vision-On and Blue Peter were all accessible, and watched religiously. Egg boxes, washing-up liquid bottles and cornflakes boxes, were the raw materials of rockets & dreams. And after school I would sit quietly with my mum, creating elaborate doodles on the covers of my school copy books.
From an early age, I recognized the freedoms that came with being an artist. The freedom to touch, look, question, investigate, explore, feel, create, and express that which had been experienced. I valued these freedoms and gravitated towards others who held them dearly. I resisted the internal and external pressures to fit into a defined box, and championed at every turn, an inherent drive to keep evolving.
This internal drive has fueled an interesting journey to say the least, and has allowed for a life of rich creative experiences. From being a professional painter, gallery manager, singer, songwriter, jeweler, ceramist, graphic artist and public sculptor… to designing educational programmes for the Irish Museum of Modern Art (15 years), the Department of Justice, Barnardos, The Ark, Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council, The Department of Education and many more.
Working with so many people in so many contexts had it’s challenges, and demanded increasing levels of personal awareness, and presence of mind. This led me to search for answers as to how the mind works. I read many books on psychology, spirituality, Buddhism, zen and meditation. I practiced yoga and developed a meditation practice. Each of these areas of study added greatly to my understanding. However, it was when I read Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, that the penny dropped and significant questions were answered. This led me to the field of mindfulness, a greater understanding of meditation, and a clarity of how to apply the lessons of mindfulness & meditation to daily life.
As a practicing artist, the relationship between creativity and mindfulness has been apparent to me for many years. The states of mind which inhibit and enhance mindfulness, are the same states of mind which inhibit & enhance creativity. The first time I heard someone try to acknowledge this in writing, was about 25 years ago, in Betty Edwards book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. For many years I’ve searched for other authors. It is only recently however, that the relationship of the two fields is beginning to be acknowledged and explored. (Check out Resources Page)
Mindfulness and Creativity are the ultimate duo. They act as a natural ballast to each-other. They help the mind find balance in the midst of seeming chaos, prevent rigid thinking patterns from blinding our vision, and offer a playful way of re-engaging with life again. When we apply mindfulness & creativity simultaneously to life, we find love, joy and giggles begin to fill every moment. In order to experience this inner joy …… we must apply them moment by moment by moment … not a second before … or a second after …!!! . It is through this process that we become peaceful, playful, perceptive participants in life.
The journey so far has led me to the experience of ‘Now’ and the emergence of ‘Mindful Create’, an educational resource exploring the connection between mindfulness & creativity. My task now is to stay present and watch as it unfolds moment by moment by moment … and not a second before …!!!
THRESHOLD WITH A PURPOSE
If you’re in the The Book Cafe & Bistro Gorey … check out this doorway which I was commissioned to create for John Wiseman a little while ago for his precious books section in his beautiful Book Shop… It is inspired by St Manchans Shrine in the National Museum of Ireland … it was a pleasure to design and work on… a little piece of cultural capital.