Meditating on the fading art of a Buddha Board
WHAT IS IT?
Searching online for some different mindfulness or meditation tools I could use with my clients with ADHD, Autism and special needs, I ended up coming across something that is now one of my own TOP 3 meditation techniques (watch the VIDEO of me using it below, but excuse my rubbish art!)
For €30.00 on Amazon I discovered the Buddha Board, where whatever you paint on it with water, slowly fades away and can be endlessly re-used. Otherwise known to some of the children I teach yoga to, as the ‘magic screen’ or the ‘fading canvas’.
Advisable to use from 5yrs old upwards, the Buddha Board is made from natural and recycled materials. What it is and exactly how is works however is sadly a trade secret! According to the original makers (www.buddhaboard.com):
Buddha Board is inspired by the Zen idea of living in the moment. You simply paint on the surface with water and your creation will come to life in bold design. Then as the water slowly evaporates, your art will magically disappear leaving you with a clean slate and a clear mind, ready to create a whole new masterpiece. Buddha Board is environmentally friendly as it only uses water – no ink, no paint, no chemicals – and it will last for years with proper care. Live for the moment and enjoy!
WHY USE IT?
The one shown in this photo her and my video, is the ENSO, which folds easily for me to travel from client to workshop etc. It is extremely light, compact, and I haven’t had to clean or maintain it in any way as the flip cover keeps it safe.
More importantly it is a really wonderful way for adults and children to meditate. The video below is a time-lapse of what was 12 minutes of meditation, but it felt like 4 minutes! It makes even children with extreme ADHD calmer and more focused. Their heart beat and breath slow down and they find it easier to concentrate and control their impulses after. For children with special needs that affect their fine and gross motor skills, this form of art therapy can be very helpful. And of course there’s no space for competition or comparisons when doing this activity in a group as the point of the Buddha Board is obviously not about how good you are at art!
That the image is changing as it fades, makes this form of meditation especially beneficial for sufferers of anxiety, ADHD and meditation beginners, compared to having to sit for 10 minutes just focusing on the breath. Physical stillness and surrounding silence can be extremely disconcerting for most people, let alone for those who have a medical difficulty calming their mind and/or body.
There is no ‘right’ way to use your Buddha Board, however this is the method I personally find most beneficial for myself and special needs children.
- With children – you can extend this exercise by asking them to re-draw the image from memory on a piece of paper, once it has fully faded from the Buddha Board.
- The board is not limited to 1 drawing per go, so feel free to keep repeating the meditation technique below, taking into consideration that drawings tend to take about 10-13 minutes to completely fade.
BUDDHA BOARD MEDITATION
- Find a place to set up your Buddha Board where there is as little distractions around you as possible (if you can’t get away from noises, you can play some relaxing spa music to help you stay calm and focused). Other than soft music, this whole meditation process should be done in SILENCE.
- Set up your BB and either pour plain water in the dispenser provided on into a separate container (I used a shot glass)
- Sit in front of it making sure that you are comfortable with a straight back
- Take a couple of long, deep, conscious breaths and set the mood for clearing your mind of distractions, and concentrating on the present. It should go without saying that no phones etc should be switched on…
- Dip the BB brush into the water and start to paint on the board. Don’t paint too fast but also not too slow! You’ll understand how much water to use, and your pace, once you’ve done your first few strokes.
- Once you have finished painting (in under a minute so that part of your design doesn’t start to fade before you’ve even finished it), cap your brush and put it to the side.
- Keeping your body relaxed, spine upright and chest open, take 3 long deep breaths as you take in your BB painting, and really concentrate on it.
- You can keep staring and watching it fade slowly and you’ll notice your breath slows down to a relaxed natural rhythm.
- Alternatively I prefer to take the image in for a couple of breaths and then close my eyes keeping the image in my mind. If I get distracted or the image disappears from my mind, I open them again and repeat. In fact whether distracted or not, I periodically open my eyes for a breath to take in the changing image. Usually as parts of it are disappearing it becomes even more beautiful and interesting. Push away any memories or thoughts it may bring up and just keep taking in the painting without any judgment or opinion.
- Enjoy the process, and next thing you know 12 minutes will have felt like 2! Once the image has completely faded I usually take a little bow. Not to God, myself or my incredible art;-) but to the experience and opportunity to have found some peace and focus in a re-usable magic screen! Repeat the process for as long as you like before packing away the board, brush and water safely and with calm.
VIDEO 12minutes time-lapsed to 1 minute: