Origami OCD

I used to tell people (and I sincerely believed) that I had some bizarre form of what I could only call Creative OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). What else could explain why I would and could fold thousands upon thousands of origami cranes? I never thought about it hard enough to make the distinction if (for me) committing myself to origami was a decision or a compulsion. I was just grateful that if I did have OCD my energy was channeled into something with an end result that was beautiful.

origami-cranes-bonsai-theme-artprize-2016
Current set of 1000 origami cranes I’m working on for ArtPrize 2016.

Though I’ve read books and articles about mindfulness and meditation I can’t say I’m one who has ever fully embraced the idea of the act of setting aside time to meditate as a normal part of my day to day life. I understand that the goal is to achieve a state of consciousness in which one is aware of but not connected to one’s own thoughts, feelings, and/or self. It’s a type of clarity that is created when you are able to let go of your “self” and observe rather than get caught up in what is happening in your own mind.

tinygami-miniature-origami-paper-crane
This 5/16″ (.793 cm)  high crane is still larger than the 1/4″ cranes I make.

Folding has never made me feel frustrated or impatient, quite the opposite actually. When I fold I feel nothing but calmness. Because the precision of each fold is the most important thing, even when folding the most simple of models, it creates a mental space that requires a single focus. The byproduct of this clarity is that all other thoughts (in my head) and distractions (in the environment around me) are left unnoticed.

batch-folding-steps-origami-crane
Batch folding the first four steps of making paper cranes.

I do recall it was years and years ago (well over a decade) that a person who saw a set of my tiny cranes for the first time and stated: “I’ve heard of working meditation before but never understood what that meant until now.” With that a new concept was introduced to me that the focus, time, patience, precision, and repetitiveness of folding tiny cranes was creating a benefit I wasn’t appreciating beyond the finished cranes themselves. Had I in fact been meditating for years without realizing it?

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One thought on “Origami OCD”

  1. That’s a really nice blog post, thanks for sharing!

    In short, the answer to your question is yes you have! There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness at the moment – being self-aware, calm and ‘in the moment’ and origami is one of the best ways of doing that. You might be interested in this blog post I wrote that pretty much matches your experience – http://origamiexpressions.com/origami-and-mindfulness

    Like

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