What is #Enso4You? On January 1st of 2016 I set out to create an Enso-a-day for one year. Each Enso is meant to thank a person, place or thing that has inspired me creatively. Every month I check in on this blog to assess the difference this practice is making in my day to day life.
An Enso is a symbol created on an exhale of breath which represents a moment when the mind is free, to let the body create.
They are posted on Instagram, Twitter, and more rarely, Facebook.
What was different this month? What was the same?
This month my meditation practice, which typically accompanied my enso practice, went out the window. BUT my enso practice got better, and I continued to see its affect in my day to day life.
As I painted or created each enso, I watched various thoughts arise and I was able to let them go with more ease. For me, this practice is not about "clearing" my thoughts: dude, that's just not going to happen. My brain is "on" from the moment I wake to the moment I go to sleep. But what HAS started happening, is a little gap between thought and reaction.
Here's a real-life example of this:
April was a really tough month. I was scrambling to get as many Enso Theatre items checked off before I start rehearsals for my internship production, and I was simultaneously managing all of the marketing for said production. I was working and trying to make time for my relationship and for myself. And taxes. Oh the joys of taxes.
The exhaustion and stress would manifest in other areas of my life. The four-year-old I nanny is going through a boundary-pushing phase. One afternoon, I asked her to clean up some of her toys, and she just stared back at me. Didn't say no, didn't yell or scream or anything, just stared blankly. I asked again. No response. My stomach tightened and I had this wave of anger rush over me. There was an impulse, a thought, to raise my voice, to be stern, to threaten her with a time-out....
...and right at that moment, I took a little breath and there was a little gap between the impulse and the action. It's hard to describe, that's as close as I can get: a gap. I released the thought, and I tried to think of other ways I might react. For example, why was she being silent? Maybe she wanted something she didn't know how to ask for? What was going on inside her head?
I chose that path. I asked her what she was thinking about. She wanted to sit and read. I said we could do that, after we cleaned up. And she cleaned up her toys.
What happened before, during and after creating the enso?
This month, I noticed that if I sat on my meditation cushion for a little while, even for 30 seconds, the enso I created afterward tended to have fewer angles than if I painted the enso and didn't sit at all. The angles in the circle always happened when I started getting impatient and I just wanted to finish the enso quickly.
And this is not like a big display of impatience: this is a super subtle thing that I would notice with my thoughts. I would start off strong, moving the brush with my breath, but as my exhale started running out, I'd get this feeling like: gah, I'm going to run out of breath!! Better finish quick! Or a To-Do item would come up in my head, and I'd think, Oh shit, I gotta go finish that. And I wouldn't see the enso through to the end.
I'm trying not to judge myself on this. It's just where I'm at right now. Just trying to maintain a steady awareness of what's happening in my head, so the next time I get close to saying or doing something that might hurt someone else, or myself....maybe I won't.
Or maybe I still will, but instead of leaping to it right away, there will be this moment of, There's a choice to be made here. What choice are you going to make in this moment? And hopefully, over time, that gap will grow and expand, until making that choice to be kind, be well, be patient, will be easier.
Follow us on Instagram to see what or who all these ensos are dedicated to! (it might be to YOU!)
CREATE YOUR OWN #ENSO4YOU JOURNEY:
If you would like to make one Enso, or even join me on this wild journey, here are the guidelines I'm following:
1. The Enso can be made out of anything, but it must be made out of things I already own.
2. I will post and update once a month on www.ensotheatre.com/blog.
3. The update will answer the questions: What did you notice before, during and after each Enso was created? What was different? What was the same?
Try to create your enso at around the same time each day. I've found that this makes it both easier and harder, but it creates a habit, which ultimately, is what I want to find. A different habit of mind.
Sometimes I use a Sumi-e Board to paint my ensos. All you need is water and a paintbrush, and as soon as you paint your enso, it starts to evaporate and you can paint again. The cheapest one I found is $15, you can get it online here.
Leave a comment and/or a picture if you make an enso! I'd love to chat with you about your experience.
As always, THANK YOU, for being on the path with me.
Caitlin Lushington is the Co-Artistic Director of the Enso Theatre Ensemble, a teacher, director, and actress. Sometimes she works too hard, sometimes she forgets things, and she strives to put the car keys back in the same place every time. She drinks tea every morning from her TARDIS mug and "Mr. Tea" diffuser. She loves the morning and wishes she had a photographic memory, so she could remember the names of every person she meets.