Sending flowers – a zen practice


For a while now I’ve been posting flower pictures to twitter under the #flowersforfreedom hashtag, in order to try and bring attention to the treatment by Chinese authorities of artist Ai Weiwei. The artist had his passport taken away in 2011 and has not been allowed to travel since then; he puts fresh flowers daily in the carrier of a bicycle outside his Beijing studio as a protest. He has also started posting on twitter and people around the world have taken up and spread this posting. This small daily action has reminded me of zen practice, the act itself is quite simple, to take a flower picture and post it to the internet, but in the daily discipline I have noticed that I have become more aware of my surroundings and at times needed to be more imaginative and resourceful. In rural Ireland (i.e. not Dublin) flowers are plentiful, in the ditches and roadsides are an abundance of wild flowers. In gardens and civic spaces planting abounds but it’s not always been possible to get to these so some days I have to go through images that I already posted or stuff from my computer. I have also on occasion stretched the descriptor of flowers to include leaves, berries and floral patterns, which I justify by telling myself that the specific image is less important than the daily discipline – in the same way as the quality of meditation may vary, but the daily act of sitting is important. Exhibitions of Ai Weiwei are currently running in San Fransisco and Vancouver, links are below:


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