You may recall from this post a while back that I have something of an obsession with mandalas. I’ve been enjoying making crocheted ones for a while now and am generally fascinated by the whole idea of the mandala.
Well since then I have only got more interested in them, so imagine my delight when I discovered that the lovely Julie Gibbons was offering a 5-day free e-course of “Mandala Magic”!
I signed up straight away and was not disappointed. Julie is a wonderful tutor; her videos are easy to follow and her warm personality really shines through.
On day one, we just started with some basic exercises – drawing freehand circles was the first one. This was a good exercise for me as I have, ahem, slightly perfectionist tendencies ….. it helped to get me to a place where I realised it was ok to not be perfect, it was ok to just …. play. What a wonderful freedom!
Day two was a lotus flower mandala and Julie talked a lot in the video tutorial about the symbolism of the lotus. It’s all about yin and yang, dark and light ….. the lotus flower floats gracefully on the water looking beautiful and serene, but it is attached to, and nourished by, its roots under the surface reaching down into the mud. I really love this concept – I guess it kind of links back to the perfectionist tendencies above! We need to remember that we can’t only have the beautiful perfection, we need the mud too!
Day three was a “manifesting mandala”. We cut out a circle, and split it into 6 parts, each representing one aspect of life – for example, “health & well-being”, “family & relationships”. We wrote on it some affirmations and ideas we wanted manifesting. Then we collaged over the top of it – Julie said to just follow our intuition and pick images that spoke to us.
I must confess, I found this exercise difficult! Julie talked about yin energy and yang energy: the yin tends towards intuition and feeling, while the yang is more logical and reasoned. While I am in many ways quite an emotional person, I definitely have more yang tendencies – I like maths, and I love logic and geometric patterns. So I found creating the lotus flower quite easy; it was done with a compass and ruler and all very measured and symmetrical, using yang energy. On the other hand creating this collage felt much harder to me – it was all intuitive and random and full of yin energy. I kept having to fight against my perfectionist nature to “get it right!” and make it look pretty and ordered. I felt uncomfortable with my own decisions, and found it hard to trust my instincts as to what images to choose.
I picked out this big bear image early on, but then put it to one side thinking, “I can’t just fill the whole thing up with that! It should be prettier, and more symmetrical, and more like a proper, arty collage!”. But then I came back to Julie’s words about following your intuition and trusting that inner voice, and, well, I really liked the bear! So here’s how it ended up.
I’m not sure what it says about my psyche that I plonked a giant great hairy bear in the middle of my manifesting mandala, but there you go, it’s what spoke to me in the moment!
Day four was a mandala using the hamsa symbol. I was not familiar with this symbol until Julie told us a bit about it – it is a universal symbol of protection. We were to draw around our own hand as a starting point for the hamsa mandala. Again, I found myself learning to live with imperfection – I went wrong at the start and drew the hand too low down, so it ended up kind of overhanging the edge of the mandala rather than being enclosed within it – but I allowed myself to let this imperfection go and continue to make the mandala! I really enjoyed creating this one, I like this symbol and I think I will have another go at a similar design again soon.
Part of the point of working with mandalas in this way is not just to create art, but to go on a journey of “artful self-discovery” as Julie puts it: through creating with the mandala we get in touch with deep truths about ourselves. This certainly was the case for me, even just through this 5-day mini-course; reading back through what I have written here, you can see there is a clear theme emerging – that of accepting imperfections, both in others, and in myself! I am learning that I need to be gentle with myself, accept my own flaws and imperfections and just – well, just be me, as I am.
Day five was about finding our “personality mandala” rather than a practical exercise, and the mini course ended with Julie telling us about her year-long Mandala Magic course which she has run for the last few years. I have decided to sign up to this, as it just appeals to so many things I am interested in – honestly, it felt like it could have been written just for me! Julie says if any of these statements resonate it may be for you:
“You are a soul seeker, in pursuit of Life’s Great Mystery.
Being creative is a therapeutic exercise for you.
Mandala art attracts and fascinates you.
You believe in something beyond the mundane – and in a little magic.
You wish to learn the symbolic language of myth, dreams and archetypes.”
Well, all of them resonated in a big way! I’m really excited to be starting this journey in 2015 and exploring more creative ideas. I will share some more of my mandala work as we go, so expect to see lots more of it both here and over on my facebook page!