Ashwin Chacko is a seriously playful connector, bringing people together through positive stories using illustration and design. Ashwin’s aim is to bring joy and encouragement in everything. Based in Belgard in Tallaght, the artist is launching a book ‘Little Optimist,’ Pocket full of Joy – it contains 30 days of creative meditation with positive thoughts, ideas and stories for each day. You can see some of Ashwin’s art on instagram.com/whackochacko.
Ashwin writes “Little Optimist. Cabin fever, isolation from our support systems, a feeling of entrapment, depression are prevalent emotions in our current climate. Over the last year our reality has completely changed. With the onset of lockdowns there has been a rise in the struggle for a healthy mental attitude. How do we stay optimistic, when we are faced with such opposition? Many have come across my work and my social feed and asked “how do you keep positive?” “How do you continue to be optimistic?” My answer is creative meditation. I don’t know about you but I always struggled with the idea of meditation.
Growing up in India you hear a lot about meditation. What they teach you to do is to empty your mind to get rid of your negative thoughts. Ah that sounds easy but it’s hard to do, I can’t sit in silence when my children are screaming. How can I empty my mind when there is a hundred thoughts and worries clogging my mental space? This was never helpful for me. All it did was make me think about all the things I was trying not to think about. So if I spend all my energy trying not to worry, I would end up spending all that time thinking about not worrying so invariably end up thinking about that worry. You see when you empty yourself of one thing, you open yourself up for something else to come and fill that space.
My ability to meditate drastically changed when I switched to a Jewish worldview of it. They believe meditation is a consistent thought on a subject, much like the cow who regurgitates the cud to chew on it. Let me explain, a cow has four stomachs. It first takes in as much grass as it can, filling one or more of its stomachs. This grass has not been chewed but swallowed whole and thus is not digestible. Once the cow has consumed enough grass, it regurgitates the semi consumed grass known as the cud. It will now continuously chew this cud. The cud needs to be turned into smaller digestible bite size chunks. A somewhat graphic illustration, but it makes for a good visual metaphor of what we must do with our thoughts. We take in a positive idea, quote or story and break it down into smaller bite sized chunks and consider from different angles. This realisation shifted everything, rather than spending all my time trying to empty myself of negative thoughts. I focused on a positive thought or quote or phrase. And I spent not only those few minutes of quiet reflection but I had the thought circulating in my head all day. Whenever I paused for a break from work or play I would bring back that quote and examine it from all angles.
So you might be thinking, where do I begin? To help you through this process I’ve written ‘Little Optimist,’ a pocket full of joy. It contains 30 days of creative meditation. Each day has an idea to meditate on, with a positive story, encouragement or quote to consider throughout the day.