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Mira Żelechower-Aleksiun’s Mindfulness Practice

In the beginning, there was lockdown and a drastic change of previous patterns of thinking, acting and living our everyday life. People were locked in the cramped cages of their homes, looking for
new ways to cope. Mira found her way in John Kabat-Zinn’s practice. Working with life's survivors, with people who experienced burnouts and who have lost hope for any change, Kabat-Zinn
recommends short escapes from the whirlwind of life's activities onto one's own island of being - the time when all action ceases. On the island of being there is no self-assessment and no fear of what
other people might think. There is no past and no future. Here and now. Indeed, it is the only time in which we are alive.

Within the practice of mindfulness, every moment counts. Every crumb of life can bring back the childlike freshness, making us see the world with wonder and empathy. By practicing
mindfulness, we follow the path of daily exercises which cannot be replaced by any lectures or books. For Mira, mindfulness practice means an imperative to paint, to pour onto paper everything
that has been brough onto the shore by a wave of her imagination. Her paintings record weather like a barometer. Sometimes they are illuminated with an intense yellow sunlight, and sometimes they
burn with colours of red, rebellion, desire for something that has not arrived yet. Other times, they are light green, fresh, like a spring landscape. But there are also grey, gloomy moments, when it is
not easy to generate any hope. However, even in these dark alleys of doubt, there is always something that heralds change: orange flashes of light, luminous streaks emanating from underground power stations linked to an invisible energy source.

For Mira, each of her here and now plays out in an infinite space, even though individual images are small because of the pandemic, framed in an identical way, like identical hours, days or
weeks. But if you take a closer look, each painting conjures forests, lakes, desert sands. Behind the shimmering petals of colours, there are faraway horizons, the space that spills to the sides has no
limits, it penetrates the imagination and irresistibly attracts the viewer towards the centre of the image, a whirlwind. For many years now, Mira has given up making sketches, no longer searching for
what she wishes to express on paper or canvas. She just sits down and gets to work on a blank page, just to see what comes out. No touch-ups. Her moments are what they are, and as such – they are
perfect. They are an expression of her mindfulness, her sensitivity to the world.

Mira' s islands of being host different people. Sometimes it is a group hiding under a common umbrella, sometimes a little girl dancing among rainbow petals or two men lifting a woman from the
ground. From beyond a luminous glow, there emerge combined faces of men and women, Jan's blue eyes or some fragments of a face, the vital ones, the ones etched in memory... From afar, we see small silhouettes, human ants always busy, always going somewhere, climbing up endless stairs or ladders towards heaven, towards stars, towards that, which transcends everything and gives meaning to every moment of life.

Most of Mira's paintings from this cycle have no titles. Some of them are not dated, at least not precisely. They cannot be arranged in logical sequences, but when put together into a
patchwork-like fabric of life, they enchant with positive energy of colours and depth that hides behind every unfinished but perfectly experienced moment of mindfulness.

The first time Mira's hand conjured such images, at the time when she was still an ardent Christian, was when she travelled to the Holy Land. The years before that trip had been devoted to

organizing help for the needy, when Mira gave up her painting because she considered it selfish, as there was so much to do - history was happening around her, first with the emergence of Solidarność, and then the introduction of martial law. Mira let herself be dragged into the whirlwind of events. But in Jerusalem, she unexpectedly found a sense of rootedness, peace, her own here and
now. In the house of her former school friends there was a studio with paints and brushes. She began to paint their portraits, bringing down the dam, letting out an unstoppable stream of
paintings, an expression of long-suppressed emotions. She felt as if in a trance.

Years later Monika Braun wrote:
There, she learned to paint in a new way. Applying the paint with a brush with no clear aim, she applied colour that created a pulsating background, she painted something like an
abstract picture, and then treated it like an overcast sky, where you can see dragons, suns, figures, sculptures, signs. ... With a motif in her mind, Mona stares at the non-defined landscape and finds in it all the elements of the future painting. It is as if the canvas, smudged with paint, was hiding all these potent meanings and it is her task to reveal them. (from the book Mona: opowieść o życiu malarki)

Besides the islands of being that she transfers onto the canvas, Mira-Mona has other islands of being. Every Friday evening, when the first stars appear in the sky, she stands by the window and
lights the candles. With circular motions of her hands over the flame, she invokes the power of light towards herself, her home and everyone in her household. She covers her eyes with her hands and
says a prayer just like Sarah, Abraham's wife, did. The same words, the same intention, repeated bythe women of Israel generation after generation. When she looks at the world again, she sees it in a
different light - illuminated by the light of the Sabbath candles. On the table, there is wine and challah covered with an embroidered cloth. It is not a mere moment, but a whole day of being in holy
time.

A similar light penetrates Mira's paintings created in a different time, though with similar mindfulness. Rays of light descend on people from above. They either strike or embrace them -
narrow and sharp like the blade of a knife, wide like a stream or gently dispersed in the rippling colours of the background. They lead scattered images towards great meditating figures that give
meaning to the patchwork construction. Any moment can be fitted in and each will fall in its place. Inside the here and now of Mira-Mona Żelechower-Aleksiun.

Alina Drapella-Hermansdorfer