“Is it too much to ask, to live in a world where our human gifts go toward the benefit of all? Where our daily activities contribute to the healing of the biosphere and the well-being of other people?” ― Charles Eisenstein
I have been reminded, again and again, especially in the last few weeks, how deeply each of us longs for connection. We are all, collectively, hungry for what we know is possible – a world in which connection comes before consumption and love comes before greed.
When I re-built my website last summer, I felt strongly that the most important work that I can do in the world is to re-connect people with themselves, with others, with the earth, and with the sacred.
This is the imperative work that we must ALL do. This is the only thing that will turn us away from this self-destructive, overly-consumptive, earth-destroying path we are on. We must return to connection.
That is why a blog post about holding space can go viral – because it responds to our hunger for connection. We’re used to silly cat videos going viral, but this is different. This touches a place in our hearts that is hungry for more depth, more intimacy, and more connection.
Since this whole thing started, I have been contemplating how I can further feed this hunger. How can I help you to make deeper connections with yourself, others, the earth, and the sacred? Here’s what I came up with… a special gift that will help each of you make deeper connections.
In Mandala Discovery, participants receive a mandala journal prompt each day that helps them work through a variety of themes such as balance, chaos, play, courage, and community. I would like to offer you one such prompt on the theme of connection. If this resonates with you, you are welcome to sign up for the class which starts on April 1st.
When you make your mandala, remember that this is about the process and not the product. You are not making a work of art, so let your inner perfectionist go and simply delight in the process.
Connection – A Mandala Prompt
“We are uncomfortable with intimacy and connection, which are among the greatest of our unmet needs today. To be truly seen and heard, to be truly known, is a deep human need. Our hunger for it is so omnipresent, so much a part of our life experience, that we no more know what it is missing than a fish knows it is wet. We need more intimacy than nearly anyone considers normal. Always hungry for it, we seek solace and sustenance in the closest available substitutes: television, shopping, pornography, conspicuous consumption — anything to ease the hurt, to feel connected, or to project an image by which we might be seen or known, or at least see and know ourselves.” – Charles Eisenstein
There is a sickness in the world today.
If the world were a person, we would send her to a doctor. The doctor would ask a few questions, take a close look at the symptoms, and the prognosis would be “Disconnection. Your symptoms all point to a severe case of disconnection. Your body is full of people making selfish decisions because they have lost their connection and accountability to their communities. You have too many big businesses who are destroying the mountains and forests and oceans because they have lost their connection with the earth. You have government leaders encouraging polarity rather than collaboration because they have lost their connection to their own moral compasses. You have too many people living empty lives because they have overlooked their own need to connect with the Sacred.”
“There is no simple pill for this condition,” the doctor would say. “This will require hard work, sacrifice, and commitment. You will have to change your lifestyle. Your people will have to stop some very destructive habits. More than anything, they’ll need to pause what they’re doing, start being more mindful and fully present, and begin to connect in a deep and authentic way to what really matters.”
Only a deeper connection will help us address this illness that is running rampant in the world. We need a groundswell – a rising up of a huge collective (I started to say army, but that sounds to oppositional to me) of people who are determined that we will return to connection. We will give up our selfish, self-destructive ways and start making decisions based in love and community rather than greed and individuality.
Will you be part of this collective?
Will you have the courage to choose connection, even when advertisers are telling you to “buy more”, governments are telling you to “argue more”, real estate developers are telling you to “build more”, and society is telling you to “isolate more”?
Each of us must make a choice, and together we will begin to shift this tide. Together we will create an environment that will make others hungry for what we have.
We won’t change the world by fighting the existing culture. We will change the world by loving it into something new.
How do you begin to connect? You begin by first making the choice to do so. Say this out loud to yourself: “I choose to connect. I choose to live a life in which my connections with myself, others, the earth, and the sacred will help guide me to a more authentic life.”
Once you make that choice, you will begin to open yourself up to deeper connections. That’s the first step. Then the next step is to be intentional about looking for opportunities to make those connections.
Begin to ask yourself, each time you make a decision, “Is this choice based in connection or isolation? Am I making this purchase (or going on a trip, or saying no to an opportunity, or going for a walk, etc.) because it will help me to feel more deeply connected to myself, others, the earth, or the sacred, or am I making it because I feel isolated and I am trying to self-medicate?” Try to be as honest as you can with yourself, without judging yourself or being unkind to yourself. Start with mindfulness – simply observe without judgement.
Gradually you will begin to witness your own patterns and this awareness will help you to see where you need to open yourself up to greater connections. If you are spending every night in front of the TV, for example, you may be doing so because you are feeling bitter about past relationships and you no longer know how to make friends. If this is true, then you may wish to take some small steps – take a class or join a sharing circle to find people to connect with.
As you begin to connect, consider the balance of all four connections – self, others, Sacred, and earth. All four should be considered equally important. As your awareness grows, so will your understanding of where the gaps are. If, for example, you give up all of your time for other people and overlook your own needs, you will begin to recognize that your connection with self is lacking. Then it will be time to say no to some of your commitments so that you can spend more time in self-care. Instead of volunteering at the local foodbank, take a night off and go for a long walk in the woods.
All four are important and all four are intertwined. If you fail to connect with yourself, for example, your connections with other people will suffer. If you don’t spend time connecting with the earth, you will have trouble strengthening your connection with the Sacred. (Truthfully, all connections are sacred, so this is intermingled in all that we do.)
When you are deeply connected on all four counts, your life will be infinitely richer and your acts of service to the world and those around you will be much more meaningful. This is not frivolous stuff – this is imperative. A world full of connected people is a healthy world.
To take a closer look at your own connections and to become more intentional about deepening them, here’s a mandala journaling exercise that will help.
- Draw a large circle with a smaller circle in the middle and divide it into 4 equal pie pieces. (Or use the pdf template available here.)
- In the small circle at the centre, write the word “connection”. This is your sweet spot – the place where all four connections come together.
- In each of the four quadrants, write the words “self, others, sacred, and earth”.
- Consider the things that you do that help you connect with self – do you go for long walks, do yoga, write in your journal, cook delicious meals? Write those things in the quadrant labeled “self”.
- What do you do to connect with others – go for coffee with friends, go on date nights with your partner, play games with your kids, take classes with friends? Write those in the quadrant labeled “others”.
- What do you do to connect with the earth – plant a garden, climb trees, take pictures of birds, go for long walks in the woods, ride horses?
- What do you do to connect with the Sacred – pray, meditate, walk labyrinths, fast, light candles, read sacred texts?
- Some things that you do might appear in multiple quadrants. For example, I like to walk labyrinths, which helps me connect with myself, the Sacred, and the earth. Write those things in each quadrant that they apply to.
- Once you’ve written all of the things you already do, begin to consider the things you don’t do yet but wish to. Do you want to take a yoga class? Find a sharing circle? Shop at organic farmers’ markets? Write those in the appropriate quadrants.
- Is there one quadrant that’s emptier than the others? Consider how you can bring it into better balance. Be intentional about seeking those things that will help with that particular connection.
- Once you’ve written everything you can think of, decorate the mandala however you like. Pencil crayons work well if you still want to see the words. The colouring time can be a time of integration and meditation as you set your intention to become more connected.
- Hang the mandala on your wall or keep it in your journal to remind yourself regularly about your intention to connect.
If this mandala journal prompt was helpful to you, consider registering for the Mandala Discovery class that begins April 1st. You’ll receive 30 more prompts like this one, each day in April. Though they arrive in your inbox every day, you can take your own time working through them.
Interested in more articles like this? Add your name to my email list and you’ll receive a free ebook, A Path to Connection. I send out weekly newsletters and updates on my work.
It’s true – I think in circles. The circle, in some form, shows up in almost everything I do. When I need to connect with Spirit, I walk the labyrinth. When I want to connect with others, I gather people in circle. When I want to connect with myself, or I want to bring my swirling ideas into some form of clarity, I make mandalas. In this post, you’ll see how I used mandala-journaling to help process the ideas that are emerging in the book I’m writing. Any of the ideas in this post can be used for your own project planning, whether you’re writing a book, starting a business, or just trying to gain clarity about a new direction your life is taking. If these ideas tweak your interest, you may want to consider signing up for Mandala Discovery (which starts January 1st), or you may want to use A Soulful Year to help you release 2014 and plan for 2015.
Last week, when I went on my personal retreat, I didn’t plan to spend most of the three days in the art room with scissors, glue, markers and chalk pastels, but that’s where I was and it was the best place I could be. By the end of the weekend, I’d made 10 large mandalas, all ranging between two and three feet across.
My primary focus for my time away was the book I’d worked on so diligently for a couple of years and then set aside after my mom died because… well… because it just wasn’t feeling like I’d taken it where I needed to take it and because grief was clouding my judgement and focus. With a two year break, it felt like it was time to revisit it. It was one of those unfinished projects that just wouldn’t rest easily until it was resolved.
When I first arrived at the retreat centre on Monday morning, I headed toward the art room down the hall. I’ve been doing these personal retreats for about 10 years now, and there’s one thing I’ve learned – it takes time to settle in to the stillness of retreat. The first few hours are always full of restlessness and monkey-mind – “Did I remember to buy bus tickets for the kids? Do I need to check in on them? What if I don’t use my time here wisely and it’s a waste? Should I have a schedule so I get stuff accomplished while I’m here? Should I have spent this money so close to Christmas? Speaking of Christmas, maybe I should be finishing the shopping instead. Etc., etc.”
The best way I’ve found to deal with monkey-mind is to distract her with art supplies, which is why I love going to a retreat centre where the art room is just down the hall from my bedroom (and the library is at the other end of the hall). Inspired by the online Dreamwheel circle Lisa Rough was hosting on Facebook, I started with a circle in the largest paper I could find and started collecting images that reflect what I want to invite in and host in 2015. At the edges of the images I did some intuitive journaling with a white paint marker.
After completing that circle, I didn’t want to stop, so I decided to make a dreamwheel specially for the way I want the book to unfold.
I had already considered, before going on retreat, that it was a very real possibility that I’d need to scrap all 180 pages of what I’d already created and start from scratch to create what really wanted to emerged. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the book that’s in my heart right now is called “Circling Around to This” and it’s part memoir about the way circle keeps showing up in my life and part invitation to others to consider how circle can become part of their lives. The book I finished and set aside two years ago was called “Butterfly at the Grave” and it was about the spiritual transformation in my life that began with the stillbirth of my son Matthew.
When I went on retreat, it was with the expectation that I would be starting something brand new, so I started my dreamwheel from that place – imagining a new book called “Circling Around to This”. As intuitively as possible, I chose the images and words that reflected the themes I thought would be present in the book.
Some surprises showed up, and some things challenged me to think bigger than I’d thought before. For example, I’m not sure where “outrage” came from, but it wouldn’t leave me alone until I put it on the page. And when I added “A time of change” I began to open myself to the possibility that I was being called to write something that would invite people into significant cultural paradigm shift. While that idea was exciting, it started to feel bigger than what I’d allowed myself to dream.
I thought I would go back to my computer to write after creating the dreamwheel, but the creation of it left me feeling more unsettled than I’d felt before. Suddenly the book started to morph and become even less recognizable than when I’d arrived. Suddenly I felt like the ground was getting shakier and I was being called into something even scarier than I’d thought before.
So I cut out another large circle and I started another mandala. This time I started with an image that reflected the work of writing the book (a woman gathering water at a stream – a reflection of me gathering the ideas that I would use to water the seeds I have planted). Around the image, I started writing intuitively about what I thought the book would become. As I wrote, more and more ideas started flowing, and the concept for the book grew in a way that felt wild and outside of my control.
That’s when I started to get nervous. Because maybe this book is bigger than me. Maybe it’s bigger than just a nice little memoir that those who already love my work will cozy up in their armchairs to read and then pass on to their friends. Maybe it will require more courage than I expected because I’ll be nudged to say counter-cultural things that won’t sit well with the dominant culture and revolutionary things that will be taken seriously by people longing for change. Maybe I’ll even offend people and make those close to me wonder why I’m acting “too big for my britches”.
That mandala didn’t leave me feeling any more settled than the other, so I grabbed another circle and kept going. This time I had to deal with the resistance that kept showing up to let me know I am not worthy of this book, not capable of writing a book that will invite change in the world, not spiritual enough, not smart enough, not organized enough, not rich enough, not influential enough, etc. etc.
This time I used the spiral that shows up a lot in my mandala journaling. The spiral is usually used like a labyrinth, inviting the release on the inward journey, the receiving at the still point at the centre, and then the return that brings whatever gift was received at the centre back out into the world. I coloured a spiral with chalk pastels, and then spiraled inward with my Sharpie marker, trying to release the resistance and the voices of self-doubt. At the centre, I paused in stillness, and then began the return, journaling about the gift that this book could be and what I was being called to bring to it. When I reached the outer edge, there was still resistance in me, so I began the journey back to the centre and once again out to the edge.
That journey brought me back to the term “paradigm shift” and that’s when I started to get really freaked out. Because that term transported me back to the hospital when I was waiting for Matthew to arrive. It took me back to those transformational three weeks when some pretty unusual and remarkable events occurred, including some that I hardly ever talk about because they’re hard to explain. Events that included other-worldly visitors and grand visions and even prophecies (some of which have come true since then). Events that felt big and scary and made me feel like I had some kind of Messiah-complex every time I tried to talk about them. In one of those unusual events, the term paradigm shift was spoken to me, and not by anyone physically present in the room. It left me with an unsettled feeling that I might be called into the kind of change-making work that few people around me would understand.
And that’s when I started to realize that the two books – the one I set aside about the events surrounding Matthew’s death and birth and the one about the paradigm-shifting power of circles might actually be one and the same. Sitting in that art room, playing with chalk pastels and markers, a gradual awareness was growing in me.
Fourteen years ago, when I was in that hospital room for three weeks, a paradigm shift was growing in me, inviting me into something new, a little scary, and much bigger than me. Since that time in the hospital, that paradigm shift keeps showing up as some form of circle.
I cut another circle, used chalk pastel to colour the waves of change across it (that reflects the Two Loops that I learned from Deborah Frieze), and started journaling again. This time, I asked myself what a paradigm shift looks like and why it matters. I also asked myself how the paradigm shift had shown up in my life in the fourteen years since the term had attached itself to me in the hospital. Every one of those times it showed up could somehow be linked back to the circle. Sometimes it was in the many circles of people I’ve been part of and hosted over the years, sometimes it was at the centre of the labyrinth, sometimes it was while I made and taught mandala journaling, and sometimes it was in models like Theory U and the Two Loops that use the curve as their primary shape.
The more I sat with the idea and the more I brought it to the mandala, the more I realized the ideas that have become so much a part of my work all had their seeds planted in me as I sat in a hospital room waiting for my son to be born. If I were to chart my life’s work (and the book) on the story arc, that time in the hospital, when I had to put my busy life on hold to try to protect the life of my unborn son, was the “inciting incident” that was the catalyst for everything that came afterward.
I have always known that my son Matthew’s short life, that was only lived in the confines of my womb, was as meaningful as any that had been lived out for ninety years on this earth. This revelation in the art room was even more confirmation of that. If I hadn’t paused to spend those three weeks with Matthew, I would never have found myself here, doing this work, fourteen years later.
So much was swirling around my head by then that I cut out more circles and kept going. I knew I had more work to do before I was ready to sit at a computer and string the words together that would tie the old pieces of the puzzle in with the new, so I stayed in the art room.
One of the mandalas was a “through” mandala that is one of the lessons I teach in Mandala Discovery, where the idea/emotion/challenge you’re traveling through is written in large letters across the circle. (In my case I wrote “circle”.) The journaling then follows a meandering path in and out and across the word at the centre, allowing the questions, fear, invitation, resistance, and excitement to show up in all its complexity and unpredictability. Another one started with a spiral at the centre that reflected the central theme of the book and then smaller spirals spreading out around it that reflected the secondary themes. In a third, I placed an image at the centre that was a reflection of me, making an offering of the book to the world. Spreading out like the sun’s rays, I wrote what might become chapter headings in the book. In the fourth, a flower represented the blossoming of the ideas in the book. In the final one, I found a new, bigger and bolder image that reflected what the way that the book could potentially serve the world, and journaled about what my thoughts were now that I’d worked through these fresh ideas and all of the resistance that came along with it.
By the time I had finished all of these mandalas, it was Wednesday morning and nearly time to leave the retreat centre. I had just enough time to sit down at my computer, write a couple of pages of what would be the new version of the book, and then re-open the file that held the old version of the book.
In the last couple of years, each time I’ve opened that file, I was filled with a sense of uneasiness, discomfort, and disappointment that I couldn’t seem to bring this project to completion. I’d read a few paragraphs or flip through the pages, but always close it in frustration. This time was different. This time there was freshness and hope and a new sense of possibility.
There is still a lot of work ahead of me. There will be lots of moments of self-doubt and resistance. I’ll get lost in the challenge of stringing together complex ideas and this new, emerging paradigm. But at least I now have a clearer picture of what wants to be born. And I have my mandalas to return to when I get lost.
I expect there will be many more mandalas made before this book is published. Here’s hoping that a publishing date will happen in 2015.
If you want to use mandala-journaling as a planning tool, you might want to start with A Soulful Year. If you want to use it as a tool for self-discovery, try Mandala Discovery.
The Magic of Mandalas Blog Hop is a radically inspiring sharing circle, with artists from around the globe sharing the stories behind their process of creating mandalas. Our mission: To inspire you to see new possibilities for your own creative practice.
Click here to discover new artists, soak up new ideas and fill up on creative inspiration to fuel your creative practice.
I love words. I always have and I always will. Words have come naturally to me since I started my first journal at the age of ten. Nearly every major event in my life – whether hard, easy, good, or bad – has been processed in my journal through words. Most of my career, in fact, was guided by words – I worked as a professional communicator.
But sometimes words are not enough.
Sometimes words limit the brain, keeping it stuck in old patterns. Sometimes you need more than just words. And sometimes things happen that are too monumental, too confusing, or too full of pain or beauty to put to words.
That’s when I turn to mandalas. Mandalas open spaces in the brain that words can’t access. Mandalas tap into the creative right brain processes that move us through things in fresh and often surprising ways. Mandalas help us shift into a more mindful space where the words spinning through our minds are silenced for awhile and the real wisdom can speak.
Right now, people are working their way through the September offering of Mandala Discovery, and I am enjoying the sharing that’s going on in the Facebook group. People are often surprised by what is cracked open by the Mandala Journal prompts.
“It feels so nurturing to me – like my soul is starving for this kind of thing, and I finally get to feed it what it wants,” said one person.
“My Inner Child emerged,” said another. “I got memories of being afraid and turning to nature to make me feel safe.”
“I love how a mandala can be simple and still be deep, complex and beautiful,” said a third.
Often my mandalas combine words with images, accessing both right and left brain patterns. If you want to try a unique mandala process that’s about stopping the spiral of self-doubt, here’s one.
The next offering of Mandala Discovery will be in January 2015, with registration opening in December 2014. Add your name to my email list (on the top right) to stay informed.
I see more and more women (and some men) who are finding their way back to the things they love to do – painting, dancing, writing, hosting, horseback riding, hiking, taking pictures, acting, etc.
I work with a lot of these people, in my coaching and workshop facilitation, and I love to see the delight in their eyes when they talk about what they truly love to do. Some, for example, sit in my Creative Writing for Self-discovery circle and talk about how writing poetry feels like a homecoming – like something they’ve been longing for but didn’t know they were missing. Others start playing with mandalas and can’t believe how much joy it brings them to hold pencil crayons in their hands again.
Almost always, though, I see that delight in their eyes fade when I ask them “why don’t you do more of it?” They stammer a reply that sounds remarkably similar to all of the other excuses I’ve heard (I’m too busy, it makes me feel guilty, my partner makes fun of me, I can’t take the time away from my kids, etc.). And when they come back a week later, they sheepishly say “I wanted to do the homework, but couldn’t find the time.”
The bottom line is that they have been fed a lie that what they love to do is trivial. It’s the thing you do only if you have time after all of the important things are done. It’s just a hobby, so shouldn’t be taken as seriously as washing the dishes or crunching numbers at the accounting office you work at.
I have struggled with this lie in my own work too. Sure I teach transformational workshops online and off, but it’s not really that important, is it? It’s just stuff people do on the fringes of their lives – it doesn’t fit in the “mainstream” where people are doing real work. Even though I believe in it deeply and know it can transform people and communities, I have trouble marketing my work in the corporate world, because… well… won’t people make fun of me for trying to sell something so trivial in a serious environment?
Mandala journaling? That’s fine for people with time on their hands, but don’t try to get a serious corporate executive to colour in a circle. It’s far too trivial for someone with an important job title. Gathering in circle? Oh that’s just for women who aren’t doing the big, important work in the world. It’s not going to fly in places where people are having tough conversations and changing the world.
But it’s all a lie, and I know that. It’s the lie the patriarchy has been telling us for hundreds of years to keep us silent and to keep us from changing the accepted structures and heirarchy. It’s a lie we’ve been fed again and again, since childhood, and we don’t know how to change it because we’ve received so many wounds over it, we’ve learned to hide our hearts and keep our deepest loves secret.
Imagine if we could rise out of the shame and the fear and truly believe in what we love to do.
Imagine if we could convince governments to move their chairs into circles and have real conversations instead of the polarizing shouting they do at each other from across the room. Imagine if business meetings started with some quiet journaling or mandala-making. Imagine if there was daily dancing in the corporate offices downtown. Imagine if the heads of corporations and governments had to go on vision quests or self-discovery retreats before they could be trusted to lead.
It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? Your first thought, like mine, was probably “oh, it would never work”. But what if every time we heard that voice of resistance in ourselves, we recognized it as the voice of the patriarchy trying to silence us, and we challenged it instead of accepting it?
A few weeks ago, I co-facilitated a weekend stakeholder consultation for a national association of city planners. Because we knew it would be a difficult conversation, we encouraged them to use circle to ensure that everyone was heard. There was some reluctance to our recommendation, but fortunately we had an ally on the planning committee, and so we went ahead with it. The circle transformed the way they gathered. People made positive contributions throughout the weekend because they felt heard. Important decisions were made AND people felt valued and hopeful.
The circle is NOT too trivial for people who are making important business decisions. In fact, I think it’s imperative.
A few years ago, I was facilitating a team planning retreat for a non-profit, and I invited everyone to start with some simple yoga poses, and then we played with modeling clay and tried to envision our future through clay. Halfway through, one of the people in the room said, “but when are we going to do the real work?” He was anxious to get to the strategic planning we needed to do. I didn’t say much, but when we were finished, we looked at each other’s clay creations and saw a great deal of vision for where the team needed to move. “Oh, I get it,” said the person who had resisted. “This IS the real work.” Yes, it is. We saw more vision emerge from the pieces of clay than we would have in a traditional brainstorming session.
Art-making and yoga are NOT too trivial for people doing world-changing work. In fact, I think it’s imperative.
It’s taken me years to stop believing the lie (and it still creeps in now and then), but I believe that the world is crying out for us to do this work. It’s transformational for EVERYONE, not just the people with time on their hands after the real work is done.
It starts by changing us individually, and with that as a base, it can change governments, change international relationships, change the way we treat our earth, and change our communities.
I believe it’s imperative. The world needs this kind of change. And it will have to start with a healing of our collective wound and a new belief that this is worthy work we are doing.
If you are on the path to the work you love, or you want to step onto that path, consider a journey through Pathfinder.
If you want to practice openhearted writing, consider joining a small, intimate virtual circle on Friday, February 14th.
There’s a delight that fills you when you dream up a new idea – a piece of art, a script for a play, a dance routine, a poem, a delicious meal, a kid’s birthday party, a course… anything. The delight grows as you entertain the idea and begin to give it shape. You fashion it in your mind, you play with the details, you start gathering the pieces that you need to build it. You lie awake at night dreaming of what it will be when it grows up. You fantasize about how happy it will make you feel.
There’s a little skip in your step as you grow it from a seed of an idea to a real thing. You love it dearly and you know that it will be beautiful. It’s your baby, your work of art – you will love it no matter what.
You sweat over it, cry over it, pray over it, fill it with your longing, sadness, and deep love. You pour everything you have into this creation. It gives you life and joy, but it also asks a lot of you. In between the laughter and the delight, you sacrifice, you bleed, and you ache.
When it’s complete, you gaze on it with delight and so much love for just a moment… and then… the ego shows up uninvited, fear pokes its nose around the corner…and… you start to second guess what you have created.
“Is it good enough? I’m really not an artist. I can’t trust my own opinion.”
“Is it really worth anything? Maybe it’s useless and I’m fooling myself.”
“What if people hate it? What if nobody buys it? What if it just sits here on my shelf and gathers dust and I grow to hate it and I never create another thing as long as I live?”
“What if I am a fraud?”
You do this horrible dance – going back and forth about whether or not it’s actually worth sharing this creation of yours with the world. One moment, you’re determined to barrel through and ignore the voices of fear and ego, and the next moment you’re hugging your pillow in the corner, certain that the only course of action should be to destroy the thing you’ve created before you expose yourself to certain shame.
One day, though, you finally work up the courage to share it. You clench your teeth as you do so, holding the fear tightly at the back of your throat. Part of you wants to dance with delight at this moment of triumph, and part of you wants to weep with the agony of the release.
Lots of people ignore what you’ve put into the world. Some people turn their noses up at it. At first, that’s all you notice and you’re convinced that those are the only kinds of reactions you’ll get. You consider yanking it off the shelf and taking a hammer to it in your backyard. This agony isn’t worth it. You shouldn’t have taken the risk.
But then… in the corner, you see someone crying, and you recognize those tears. Those were the same tears that coursed down your eyes as you poured all of your love into the thing you created. Those are the tears of a person who’s letting her heart crack open just a little. They’re the tears of someone watching their own story unfold, and realizing – perhaps for the first time – that their story has found a safe place to exist.
The person approaches you. Her eyes tell the story even before she whispers “Thank you for this beautiful gift. Thank you for seeing me. Thank you for creating something that makes me feel a little more whole. Thank you for cracking me open.”
And suddenly all of those other people – those who turned up their noses or paid no attention – don’t really matter, because you know you didn’t create it for them. You created this thing for the woman standing in front of you, and you created it for yourself. Because both of you needed this little bit of healing that the creation offered. Both of you needed a place where your story feels safe.
You know, in that moment, that you will continue to create. You’ll take all of that pain again and again, you’ll fight with your ego, you’ll risk the failure – you’ll do it all as often as it is required, because you KNOW that you were put on this earth to create and to give and to love.
This isn’t just YOUR story. It’s my story, and to be specific, it’s the story of Mandala Discovery. I have been in love with this program since it began to grow as the seed of an idea a couple of years ago. I knew that I held something magic in my hands, and so I kept pouring my love into it, even when that felt hard to do. I put it out into the world in one form last year, and then – when not very many people paid attention – I let it sit on a shelf for awhile, not sure that it was worthy.
But something kept telling me that the magic I’d seen in it – back when it was only the seed of an idea – was true and good and that I shouldn’t abandon it. Something told me that people needed this little gift that would give them a safe place for their stories to unfold. And so I took it down off the shelf and started polishing again.
When it was ready, I put it out into the world again, and people showed up. Not only did they show up, but they honoured the gift in the most beautiful ways imaginable. They honoured it by creating their own mandalas and sharing them and then telling the stories of how their mandala journals are changing them. They let their hearts crack open and then they stood in front of each other and said “Here. Look deeply into my heart. It may be wounded, but there is a lot of love here.”
The stories that were shared floored me and made me realize that this gift was not mine – instead I was simply serving as a catalyst, a vessel, the pot in the hands of the Potter, creating what had been breathed through me and then offering it to those who most needed it.
One woman shared how the mandalas have become part of her own recovery and how she will use them in a drug and alcohol recovery program on a First Nations Reserve. Another woman told the story of how she’d used one of the prompts with a group of second grade students who hardly knew any English, but were able to articulate something through the mandalas where words had failed them. Others shared how they had found themselves opening up to new truths about themselves. One woman plastered her walls with her mandalas – a road map back to herself.
I was reminded once again that when we let our egos get in our way, when we keep ourselves from doing that which is closest to our hearts, when we cower in fear of failure and rejection, we not only cheat ourselves, we cheat the world out of what it needs for healing. We cheat people out of what makes them feel less alone. We isolate ourselves and we isolate others.
I would like to get Mandala Discovery into the hands of more people who need it, not because my ego says “it must be big to mean something”, but because I know that it has transformative value. I would be honoured and pleased if you would help me do that.
Please share a link to Mandala Discovery (and/or this post) with your friends, followers, fans, family, and either use the hashtag #mandaladiscovery on social media so that I know that you have done so, or leave a note at the end of this post letting me know that you have.
Two people will be selected from those who’ve shared to win one of the following:
1. A free one-on-one coaching session with me.
2. Free registration for the November offering of Mandala Discovery.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for honouring this gift.