As I sit down at my desk with my sketchbook, I open my pencil case and lay my pens on the table.
I lay them all out from the thinnest to the thickest and open the sketchbook. I pick up a pen and it touches the middle of the blank page and the flow begins—line, line, circle, line and it’s a flower. A series of lines, dots, ornaments, more lines and soon it’s there—a mandala.
I’m not very good at a regular/most common meditation practices: sitting on a cushion with a straight back, with my eyes closed and listening to calming music. It just doesn’t feel right…for me at least. Maybe it’s just my weird I-need.-to-have-everything-in-control personality’s fault (or the fact that I do everything last minute and the things that I have to do haunt me the second I close my eyes).
But lately I have found my way of meditating. It’s not the regular way, it’s not with my eyes closed, it’s not doing nothing. It’s drawing mandalas.
“Mandala, a Sanskrit word meaning circle. Wikipedia defines it as:
A spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a centre point. Each gate is in general shape of a T. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance.
In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.”
When I sit down and start drawing that’s all there is—I’m all there. I’m not really thinking about what the next shape is going to be or where the next lines is going, all of that just somehow happens. The patterns—from flowers, lines, circles, dots—everything comes together in a way and all that’s important along the way are the lines that add up to the greater picture.
The important part is the journey, the stops along the way, being present this moment and not just the end result of it. Like it should always be. That’s why sometimes they end up weird or different because it’s not planned, it’s not sketched out. I put my effort in it and they end up as they end up, sometimes better sometimes worse, but they’re always mine and mindful and helping me be present.
They take me to one of those states when I think of nothing at all, but also everything at once, when I can only see the piece of paper and the lines, but also feel and sense everything around me.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own