Step into the creative world of Gala Narezo, contributor to buddhify kids
By Dana Jaffe
Recently, our editor Dana Jaffe sat down with each of the buddhify teachers to find out what they’re all about. Here she talks with Gala about her foundation in martial arts, the intersection of art and mindfulness, and the recording process.
When I was about 22, I started studying with a Chinese martial artist who was also an herbalist and a doctor. I was doing martial arts probably like four or five times a week. Part of the martial arts practice was sitting in the corner and meditating. The instruction was to count to 100. If you started and you lost your count, you had to start over. There was a lot of other meditation involved in the art forms I was studying, which were Chinese internal arts that have a lot of Qigong. So a lot of the actual practice was standing and breathing. I did tons and tons of breathwork and meditation for about 10 years. That’s how I started.
I began to study at a really cool place in downtown New York called The Interdependence Project or IDP. It’s all about the arts, activism, and mindfulness. It was such an amazing community of like-minded people who were really interested in learning and understanding Buddhism as a science of the mind. It just was all the things that my life was already about, and it really drew me in.
IDP grew and they started offering a teacher training there. I was already teaching art, but the idea of teaching meditation was still kind of daunting since it was a very different field, but little by little I started to get my toes in the water. I’d bring meditation into art spaces. Then I started teaching, and I’ve done more training since then as well.
It’s been amazing how often students turn out to be incredible teachers. It’s a cliché or a trope, but it’s really true. You make friends with your students and you learn together. I have a style of teaching that is very collaborative, and I’m very interested in really hearing from the group and creating a community where people can share and grow together. That has been the most rewarding and wonderful surprise of teaching for sure.
I think that an art practice is very much about expression and knowing what you want to say. I believe that mindfulness is the most incredible tool for understanding yourself. The reason I think there’s a very big connection between art and mindfulness is that the more you can sit with yourself and know yourself deeply, the easier it is to then express yourself artistically. It gives you insight into yourself to be an honest creator.
It’s a tool. I mean, I hate the word tool for mindfulness, actually, but it’s coming up just because it helps you know who you are, get closer to your true voice, and figure out what’s important to you. Then in the art practice, you’re able to manifest all those things through your artwork.
It has been a big learning experience for me. I was thrilled to be able to write my own meditations for children. I’ve taught children meditation, but this was a whole new process. When you’re in a classroom, you’re dealing with people right in front of you. There was something very quaint about writing and recording without an audience. Somehow, it allowed me to take on a voice that I don’t have naturally. It was really fun and exciting to have that opportunity.
Gala Narezo works as an artist, educator and consultant who specializes in creating platforms for social issues. Using art, design thinking and mindfulness, her work focuses on community engagement and collaborative problem solving. With deep experience working with young people, Gala’s work features in buddhify kids.
You can experience Gala’s contributions to buddhify kids through the meditations for Walking, Can’t Sleep, and Growing Curiosity. You can find out more about her and her work at www.behance.net/gnarezo.