If we’re connected on social media you may have noticed that I enjoy making arrays / arrangements / tableaus / altars. I find intentional groupings of things I love to be beautiful and calming in my space. I have fun while I’m arranging usual and unusual items because it draws me so easily into the present moment.
A lot of the things that make their way into my arrays are charged with deep emotion and unwavering stories about who gave the objects to me or what I was feeling in a photograph. I’m also usually working with some kind of fear or hope in any given moment about work, relationships, or my winding path.
When I take the time and attention to arrange objects that have meaning for me, I get to reflect on the experience that arises in a container of play and personal safety, which helps me to refrain from instantly tuning out, turning off, or running to the next distraction.
I played like this when I was mini with beads and sequins, miniatures and marbles — maybe you did too. Years later I entered an array-making renaissance in the spring of 2014 when I became ready to confront some special stones I’d acquired that felt to me to be completely embedded with heartache. My friend Crystal, The Stone Doctor, suggested that I play with the grown-up stones I had — quartz, amethyst, pyrite, hematite, tiger’s eye — just the way I would if I was a kid.
One by one over the following months, I surrounded each item with objects that I’d imbued with positive associations — my grandma’s ring, dried lavender from a friend, a beeswax candle made nearby. Nested amongst these treasures, the objects that brought up grief for me felt more approachable. I could sit with the feelings of sadness and anger without feeling like I would drown because there were also objects that evoked feelings of hope, support, joy, and love for me. There was healing alchemy in the arrays I was making.
I love every stage of array-making — contemplation, playing with shiny and not-so-shiny treasures, observing what comes up for me, and cleaning up (physically and metaphorically). I find this practice to be cathartic, mystical, and such an easy (and free!) way for me to get present, which is what all practice is about — relentlessly coming back to now.
Recently I began bringing this array-making practice into my work life, setting up stones and other beloved trinkets in anticipation of meetings. I love the practice of getting clear about my intentions for my health, relationships, and spiritual growth — so why not use the same simple and fun practice in my work life?
Taking five minutes to play, make a small area of treasures, and (usually) light a candle (unless I’m at a cafe ; ) fills me up with love and reminds me that I get to do work for people and projects that I wholeheartedly care about serving.
I like to carry a small bag in my pocket with a few tiny objects I’m attracted to so that I can make an impromptu array whenever the opportunity arrises.
Maybe you’re an old pro at making arrays and if so I’d love to know if you ever make arrangements that directly have to do with your work life. Please get in touch and let me know!
Are you curious about making your first array for work, love, money, wellness or something else? Here are some of my tips:
+ Play like you did when you were a kid
+ Look for things out in the world that want to come live in your array like leaves, stones, flowers, bits of paper, feathers, twigs
+ Look around your house and collect whatever speaks to you — a dish, photo, book, piece of fabric, jewelry, love note
+ Again, let it be easy and allow yourself to play!
+ Tune in to your intuition and let whatever happens happen
+ Play music that you love
+ Drink water
+ Light a candle if you’d like to designate that this is a moment that is separate from regular time
+ If all this sounds weird, but you still want to try to make something and are feeling nervous, set an alarm for five minutes and just commit to playing until the bell goes off — you might find that you want to keep going after that container of time ends
Ta-da, you did it!
Now you can hang out with your array, read a book, go about your business, have a work meeting, sleep, dance, or do whatever else in the company of what you’ve created.
I’d love to see your array! Take a photo of your creation and please share it on Instagram with the tag #ArrayPlay and @leahalexandragoldstein so I can see what you make.
Think a friend might like to play too? Share the love and send ’em this way.