Centering as a Meditation and Bowls Made in Service

Centering as a Meditation and Bowls Made in Service

A trained potter and painter, Lori Reidel centers body and life much like she centers clay on a wheel.  When she ‘s not teaching yoga, you might find her working at her wheel in her pottery studio making bowls of peace and love.  Enjoy Lori’s inspiration on Centering as a Meditation…

Using a long wire, I cut off a 6- to 8-pound chunk from a 25-pound block of clay. Then, like removing chatter from the mind, I wedge the clay releasing any air bubbles that might be trapped in. Some compare this to kneading bread or crushing grapes. I feel like it’s warm up postures in a yoga asana practice. I take the wedged piece and place it on the wheel, gently with a focused and grounded intention, connecting it to the center of the wheel head. Adding water, starting from the base and working up, I add energy to the wheel and, just like tadasana/mountain pose, I firmly center the clay on the wheel as we firmly center our bodies to the mat. Kirtan often plays in the background offering a mindful state as I become one with the clay.

This large piece of clay is known as a “hump.” Out of this hump, I am able to make about about a dozen bowls. Each bowl is made from a portion of clay at the top of the hump.

When the hump of clay is relatively centered, I separate a small ball of clay and perfectly center this ball. Water lubricates the hole my thumb makes down toward the base of the small bowl and, with my thumb on the inner bowl and peace fingers on the outer bowl, my wrist moves my right hand up, creating the walls of the bowl. Both hands get into motion with the left fingertips guiding the curve while the right fingertips hold the shape in place. After three or four pulls, I seal the bottom with a metal rib to line up the clay molecules. The wire tool slices the bowl from the hump of clay. And gentle fingers lift the slippery, wet, flexible bowl shape. The bowl is placed in its spot on the table. Trimming of the base happens after a few hours. This involves centering the upside-down bowl on the wheel with a few love taps. During this plastic, intermediary stage, words are often stamped one letter at a time into the clay. Healing crystals are placed all around the workspace for the bowls to dry.

In this way, each vessel is lovingly created. The bowls are later placed in the kiln for two 24-hour firing cycles. The first firing vitrifies the clay removing all of the chemical water. The second firing is to adhere the color or glaze which is brushed on after the first firing. The colors can be vibrant or earth tones. To see them arranged on my work table has all the anticipation of a roomful of colorful yoga mats.

I only make bowls. A bowl is a vessel that holds all that needs to be held and sometimes running over (because our eyes are bigger than our bowl). Often there is room for just a bit more to be added; more to give; more to serve. Hundreds of bowls have been shared all over the world. The bowls are my gift to you. The energy exchanged goes to the world, to peace, to the earth. I like that.

– M. Lori Reidel