Drawing Mandalas-my exercise in letting go of the ego


I needed to truly learn the lesson of non-attachment and letting go. I needed a daily reminder of these principles as I recognize that they are one of my biggest struggles. As a spirit having a human experience I see clearly that the only way to truly transcend is by learning to release all the burdens that tie our spirits to earthly vibrations.

So I decided to start drawing mandalas. It’s an activity that Buddhist monks partake in. They spend hours, days, even weeks making these beautifully  elaborate geometric designs out of colored sand and then destroy them once  they are complete. The purpose is to instruct non-attachment to the things we cherish, the things we create.  I have no place to lay colored sand on the ground so I decided to substitute by  drawing the mandalas on a sketch pad–with the condition that I write a poem on the back and give the drawing away to someone before starting a new one or burning it thus never keeping any of the drawings for myself.

This exercise is a wonderful variation of meditation for me. Especially since I’ve been having such a hard time sitting on the cushion. The activity has brought a lot of peace and clarity to many of my rolling emotions. Ironically it also has helped retrain the way I process information as I am a”big picture” thinker. I tend to focus on the whole rather than the parts. Yet one doesn’t create a mandala with a particular design in mind. You start with the “parts” –a point, circle, and eight lines and pull whatever shapes that come to mind until the mandala grows, creating itself. When I first started the shapes didn’t make much sense. I didn’t understand what I was making until I finished and saw this beautiful geometric flower in front of me. I then understood the importance of the “parts”.

Creating something that is separate from myself has been helping me to realize how much I have been in my ego lately. The mandalas I draw aren’t about me, they are about submitting to the lessons I must learn. I’ve been experiencing a much-needed ego death since I left Vegas and my break-up is also a part of that process. It’s extremely painful. I’m still hurt. I still feel a certain level of betrayal and disappointment. But I also can’t ignore the “parts”. I connected with my ex because I saw her spirit needed to be reminded of her light. She was in pain and closed off and I wanted to help her reconnect to her heart and manifest her life’s purpose. And while I wanted her, that desire wasn’t greater than my intention simply to help her on her journey because I recognized her need for freedom and understood that it wasn’t my place to try to possess her. However somewhere along the way I lost complete sight of that. I forgot that she was my lesson in impermanence. That she was sent to teach me that all along. The cycles within our relationship were reminders but I began to take those reminders for granted. I lost faith in our connection and my attachment to it has played some part in why things turned out the way that they did. A hard lesson to learn indeed.

During the moments of clarity between the emotional storm I’m able to set my ago aside and reflect. This isn’t about “”me”. How can I be angry for my ex walking in her highest truth when my intention all along was the help her do just that? Anything other than sincere joy for her happiness and accomplishments would make me a hypocrite. It would make me inauthentic in my intentions. It’s a catch twenty-two. I’m disappointed in her recent personal choices while at the same time proud of her  for her dedication to her dreams. When I rest in my ego I am hurt and angry at some of the content of her art. When I separate myself from my ego I am amazed at her talent, her artistic vision, and the power behind her words. I am able to acknowledge happiness  in her recent projects (which, to me, are her best to date) even though circumstances excluded me from being able to share  the moment with her. I’d be remiss not to acknowledge her tremendous growth. And despite certain repeated patterns of behavior I realize that she is not the same person she was when I met her two years ago. She has evolved, both on her own and through the lessons in our relationship. Seeing these “parts” as well as the “whole” helps to diffuse any feelings of anger or hate that have been arising over our breakup. It helps to release and not hold any resentment. It also helps me to accept and digest my own lessons.

I started drawing mandalas because of you

I wanted to reteach myself the lesson of impermanence

My attachment and inability to let go

Has made it all but impossible

To find peace on the cushion

I try to catch and release these feelings

But every time I breathe

It is in remembrance of your scent

Memories are like colored sand

Arising and falling out of nothingness

Reminding me not to hold on to what is beautifully created

And though our divine connection is just as sacred as geometry

We are not the anomaly when it comes to forever

So rather than sit patiently and wait for you

I sit patiently and draw mandalas

Too familiar with how much pain creates

This is how I grieve

In the pulling of shapes

The here and the now

And the acceptance of how

There might not always be understanding

But through these mandalas and you

I am learning

To let go

-Toya J


One thought on “Drawing Mandalas-my exercise in letting go of the ego

  1. Allison Jakes

    Beautiful. Your situation has reminded me strongly of relationships I have had in the past. I am inspired by your selflessness and your refusal to sacrifice what you know to be right even in grief. Thank you for sharing. I hope you will be well soon.

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