Since I began my year long commitment to my mandala practice at the beginning of this year, a number of people have shown curiosity about it, so I thought I’d write a little about why I make them.
The best way to answer that question seemed to be a mandala, so I started with the question “why do I create mandalas?” at the centre of the page. Writing whatever came to mind round and round that circle helped me clarify some of my thoughts on it – and it opened some brand new ideas I hadn’t even considered. And that is the first answer to the question “why do I make mandalas” – because the process helps me get closer to my own truths.
It’s difficult to define the value of a creative process such as mandala-making for one primary reason. The act of creating art of any kind requires me to step out of my analytical meaning-finding left brain into my intuitive, wordless right brain. When I try to analyze and explain what value I’m deriving from it, I have to carry it all back into my left brain. It doesn’t always translate well, which is why I’m often left without words.
But let me give it my best effort…
Here’s the unedited version of what showed up on the page when I made the above mandala. It’s an attempt at integrating my right and left brain thinking. Each ring of the circle represented a unique but intertwined part of the inquiry for me. The lines emerging from the centre represent the way that the three rings are intertwined and support each other (an explanation I only understood after they showed up).
Circle 1 -What do mandalas represent?
It starts with a circle, the shape of our earth, the shape of a tree, the shape of the smallest atom and the largest planet.
It is the shape that nature offers us when a flower blooms or a mother gives birth.
It is a feminine shape, bringing us back to womb and cycles of life.
It is the cycles of the seasons, the returning back to the place we started, bringing with us our baskets full of new stories.
It is the rings of memory we add to our history, like the rings of a tree.
Circle 2 – What is their value for me?
The mandala is my centring practice.
It grounds me in Mother Earth.
It reminds me of where my wisdom comes from.
It gives me a way to access my subconscious and that place too deep for words.
It lets me play and let go of logic and linear thinking.
It shifts me into my right brain, a place where ambiguity and wordless wisdom are welcome.
It brings me closer to Sophia, the feminine nature of the Divine.
It lets me experience Spirit in a kairos space that is outside the order of chronos time.
It is my meditation and my wordless prayer.
It lets me access wisdom I didn’t know was buried in my subconscious.
It asks nothing of me but my presence and my willingness to engage.
It is not based in rules or convention.
I can do it my way.
Circle 3 – What might mandalas represent for community?
Circle is the shape of community.
It is the place where we gather and have meaningful conversations.
Mandala starts with the fire at the centre-point, giving us energy and light.
It ends with us holding the edge of the circle, holding space for each other.
Real change begins when we face each other in community.
Mandala is the shape that brings us back to those essential elements.
It reminds us that there is great capacity for beauty when we are in circle.
Mandala as a community practice has the potential to heal us and to remind us of our birth, our connection with each other, and our grounding in Mother Earth.
Mandala can revive our spirit in community and give us a shared way of accessing those deep stories that our words do not want to touch.
Mandala can be a part of our story circles, giving us a place to paint our journeys to wholeness.
Mandalas can loosen our resistance and can grow our hope.
Mandalas can offer us new ways of framing old stories.
The following quote resonated for me when I heard it yesterday.
I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. – Oliver Wendell Holmes
I believe that mandalas serve a purpose in helping us find the “simplicity on the other side of complexity”.
As you can tell, I’m very excited about this process and believe that it can have significant implications for my work, both in helping individuals with their self-discovery work and in helping communities get to the heart of whatever is emerging.
Something new is growing out of this for me. I’ll be doing some one-on-one mandala coaching sessions with people in which I coach them in developing a personal mandala for whatever is emerging in their lives. This offering is in the development stage right now – once it’s ready, I’ll let you all know.
In my one-on-one sessions I will:
– help clients explore something that is present for them right now – a problem, a birthing, an inquiry, a fear, etc.
– based on whatever emerges for them, I will coach them in developing a personal mandala, based on a number of mandala-processes I have designed.
I will also be developing a course or group coaching program based on this work. If you’re interested, I’d love to hear what would appeal to you most.
If you want to book a one-on-one session, please contact me. I anticipate that the price will be approximately $100 for a half hour session, with options for follow-up calls.