Express Yourself - Step 1
I took part in a PeaceLove Mandala Poetry workshop a couple of weeks ago. I went into it knowing nothing about it, and open to learning something new. PeaceLove is an organization that helps millions of people create peace of mind through expressive arts and storytelling. The Mandala Poetry workshop merges art and poetry to express yourself; learning to be present in the moment while becoming more conscious of inner thoughts and feelings. A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. More commonly it is identified as patterns, enclosed in a shape, representing the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically. Mandalas can be used as tools when meditating to gain knowledge from within.
They kicked the workshop off by giving us nametags and asking us to write what brought us peace of mind. There were six other women in the workshop and we went around the room introducing ourselves and sharing what brought each of us “peace of mind”. For one woman, it was running, another woman said the comfort of her bed, and so on. I had written it on my nametag so there was no going back. When it came to me I told the group that what brought me peace of mind was knowing the people around me were “okay”, and I went on to explain that whether it was my family or friends, or people I worked with, I felt peace of mind just knowing that they were healthy and happy.
This left me with more to think about…why was my answer so deep? Why hadn’t it been something like sitting on a beach, or walking my dogs? A few of the women were at least 10 years younger than me and most likely childless. I took myself back and remembered the days of sitting around and reading for hours, or mindlessly watching reality TV. Peace of mind to my twenty-something self would have been hanging out in McCarren Park in Brooklyn, with a plastic cup of beer, and the sun shining down on me. But now, two kids later, major loss of people I loved, “peace of mind” looks and feels different.
So, I had gone deep. I also can admit that yoga gives me peace of mind, and sitting on my couch with my favorite blanket, and my salt lamp glowing, gives me peace of mind. I can find joy in the small things. Take a moment to ask yourself “what brings you peace of mind?”. Start with the small things that you can incorporate into your life weekly, or even daily. Then go deeper. It may be uncomfortable at first, but push yourself to understand what truly makes you feel at peace.
Close your eyes and meditate on those things; keep it pure and simple and full of joy. Then allow your mind to shut out the noise and go completely quiet. What does that look like? Acknowledge the shapes and colors that organically form with your eyes closed. Try taking time to do this for 5 minutes every day. Next week we will use these visuals to start creating our own mandalas and putting words to our images. We can find peace of mind by focusing on the positive and expressing ourselves through art and writing.