Buddha Board Mini
by Buddha Board, Inc. (Vancouver, B.C., Canada)
What are the big take-aways?
The Buddha Board Mini is a 5-inch-square absorbent easel on which you can “paint” with water using a small, stiff brush that comes with the set. As the water gradually evaporates, so does the picture you drew.
You do not have to be an artist to get a lot out of the Buddha Board.
Of course, different users will have different take-aways. For me, personally, three things I’ve noticed from playing with my Buddha Board are: (1) practicing “letting go” of my paintings makes it easier to let go of other things I feel connected to; (2) when I create something that I dislike, I will eventually get another shot at it if I want one, and when I create something that I like, it too will eventually fade and I get to decide what happens next; and (3) it’s not possible for anything you create to remain static, and in fact – for as long at least a part of whatever you make still exists – it is always susceptible to evolution (growth, subtraction, disappearance, elaboration, the influence of other creators…).
Why do I like it?
I like the Buddha Board because it allows you to gently demonstrate to yourself, in a light-hearted and tangible way, that everything in the world is transient. It shows you elegantly and practically how it is that, by accepting the impermanence of all things, we can learn to live more mindfully in the present. Why is this an important leadership concept? In my experience, mindful leaders who can efficiently pause (settle their thoughts and “center” themselves in the moment) are the most effective because they are best able to respond to rapidly-changing situations proactively from a stance of choice and intention, rather than reactively.
I also like the Mini because its design is clever and sleek – about the size of a CD jewel case – and all you need by way of materials is tap water. Moreover, it also does not take much time to have a meaningful experience with painting on the Buddha Board; lightly-stroked lines dry up kind of like slow-mo shooting stars. (A couple of short lines that I just brushed right now lasted about 90 seconds. The more water you use, the longer your lines stick around.)
In what situations would this be useful?
If you are a leader who could use a tool for taking short, meditative pauses at work, the Buddha Board is something to consider. It’s an easy, structured way to take a potentially enlightening “time out.” In practical terms, the Buddha Board Mini in particular is also ultra-convenient if your office is small and/or cluttered: the Mini is virtually maintenance-free, and it can fit in very tight spaces.
The Buddha Board might also be useful for harried leaders who notice that they are having difficulty with focusing their attention on individual tasks for very long. Taking just a few minutes a day to paint on the Buddha Board could help leaders slow down, tame their “monkey mind” and practice strengthening their concentration.
What other resources might “pair” well with it?
To further understand the business case for developing mindfulness as a leader, I recommend Resonant Leadership by Boyatzis and McKee (reviewed earlier in the Leadership Library). For a public policy argument, see A Mindful Nation by Congressman Tim Ryan (Hay House, 2012).
If you’re looking to start a mindfulness meditation practice on your own (as opposed to taking a class, going on a retreat, etc.), there are tons of great resources available in a variety of media. If the Buddhist and/or neuroscience angle on this topic is appealing to you, I suggest Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson (also reviewed previously in the Leadership Library). Otherwise, for a general introduction you might see if Jon Kabat-Zinn’s classic, Wherever You Go, There You Are (Hyperion, 1994) is a good fit for you. While I haven’t used them much myself, the expansive menu of online guided meditations by Tara Brach – which you can play or download for free – come very highly recommended.