The purpose of this practice is to bring attention to appreciating the process of creating in the present regardless of the outcome. Many people find themselves caught up in thought about the past or future and struggle to stay in the now and enjoy this moment for all it is. My hope is that in doing this practice, you will realize more of what is available to you and worthwhile in the act of creating, while being less attached to the result of your creation.
Tibetan monks have a practice of creating sand mandalas. A mandala is a symbol that represents the Universe. It can take days or weeks for these monks to complete one sand mandala. And once this detailed work of art is complete, they erase it. For these Tibetan monks, creating this painstakingly constructed temporary art points to the idea that life is transient and builds the capacity of nonattachment.
What to do for this practice: Using a pencil (not a pen) and paper, or a camera, spend at least 5- 10 minutes creating a “mini” piece of visual art. (Note, if you are using your camera, spend a few minutes crafting your picture, for example, try to set up a scene that tells a story rather than just taking an image of something you find before you. This is to help to create more of a feeling of having “invested” in the piece you are making.)
While working on your art, connect to your inherent gift for creativity and notice any feelings this brings up for you. Once you are satisfied with your work of art, take a moment to name aloud one thing you like about it.
Then, if it’s a drawing, take an eraser and erase it, or delete the photo. Yes, get rid of it. Notice any tension in your body as you do this. Where is the tension located? Notice what you think it means to erase/delete this creation you have made.
Here are some questions to reflect on at the end of your day to explore what you learned by doing this practice:
1. What feelings arose for me during the creative process and how is that “enough” allowing me to tap into the richness of the present moment?
2. Where in my body did I contract as I was erasing my work and what was the outcome I imagined as a result of this? Did this imagined outcome have real consequences for me?
I hope this practice serves you. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.
(Note: Although this practice resembles what I would offer to a client, I would always add practice questions specifically related to the client’s topic and designed to help shine light on blind spots and the path ahead.)