I wanted to give you all a little of my understanding of mandalas and my experience as a mandala artist, tutor and therapist.
Once you start to notice them, mandalas are all around us, our cells, in nature, flowers, plants, vegetables, fruit, the cycle of the seasons, moon phases and the passing of the sun throughout the day. the earth itself and other planets in our solar system. We see mandalas in design and architecture and even in the functional, such as man hole covers. Every culture and belief system has mandalas, circle art and spirals representing our inner and outer worlds, the circle is a universal symbol. Often they are used as meditative tools and can represent sacred geometry and the mysteries of the universe or a reflection of heaven. There is so much symbolism in mandala art that resonates for the creator and viewer.
I often get asked what mandala means or where the word comes from, i've tried to summarise a little for you. The word Mandala comes from Sanskrit (an ancient Asian language). I've read of different translations of the word mandala from simply 'Circle' 'within the circle' and my favorite 'container of essence'. The consensus is that a mandala has a concentric structure that offers a peaceful and balancing sense of unity and harmony. The design of the mandala is aesthetically pleasing and helps to absorb the mind, to stop distracting thoughts and allow a deep sense of relaxation, where the person experiences, a more in the moment, philosophic or spiritual space.
Mandala creation is an extension of this, it is therapeutic and relaxing. There is so much evidence and research nowadays to show that creating and colouring is good for your mental wellbeing. My experience is that creating mandalas helps me to maintain calm in my sometimes chaotic world of running an art biz and being a single parent to a teen and tween.
There is something about creating in the circle, that brings an equanimity to my internal and external world, as I create each 'round' of the mandala i find balance and equilibrium, I am able to be more in the moment and let my intuitive sense of the work grow from the centre.
My mandalas are often representing the natural world, the passing of time, the seasons, the elements, and whether through a floral pattern or actually representing a type of environment, they grow like a seed and unfold as a process of growth that I sometimes have no idea how it will turn out. They also represent my inner calm which I maintain through their regular creation. I believe they also offer others, the viewer or the person who buys one to hang on their wall, a peaceful place to reflect and be present.
These experiences are the reason I started running mandala workshops, to pass these experiences onto others, as combined with my experience of working as a therapist I am aware of how useful this work can be on so many levels. For more info see Workshops
I have also discovered that I can create mandalas that represent another person and their internal landscape, their inner peaceful space. Whether this is due to my counselling training and experience of 'being with another' over many years or a gift from elsewhere, I really don't know, but I am very grateful to the beautiful people that trust me to create this very special reflection of their inner world for them. For more info see Life-Path Mandala
Its been 18 months since I took the step of putting my mandala art out into the world. I had always created it, but more as a personal form of meditative and reflective art than something that others may like to put on their walls or learn how to create. It happened suddenly, and I just knew it was the right thing and felt comfortable doing it. Its been a journey and as you will know if you've read a few of my blogs, I have suffered from self doubt and procrastination along the way and i'm sure I will again.
But even so my business now has a more holistic approach and I have incorporated my counselling work and mandala work into various sessions, workshops and courses, that reflect what I have learnt and what I feel others can gain from starting their own mandala practice.
Having first learnt about mandalas during my art therapy training in Holland back in the 90's, it feels totally fitting to have come full circle and be working with them again at this time in my life.
Thank you for reading.
Picture: In the Night Garden
I've spent quite a few years trying to find my way with creative and counselling work, pootling along, passionately trying different things along the way, whilst also procrastinating, being affected by fear of failure and self doubt, unsurprisingly finding that I kept getting stuck. This year has seen a consistent and gradual change in that stickiness.
And I have realised that the only thing stopping me from getting my art work and wellbeing services out there was me... this seems so obvious doesn't it? but I genuinely hadn't truly grasped that idea until this last week or so!
It's me that makes excuses, says i'm not 'good enough' to approach a gallery or apply for an exhibition, it is me that finds reasons not to leave the studio or speak to people about what I do. It is my lack of self belief that stops me writing and phoning organisations who might be interested in some aspect of my holistic business. It is me that 'thinks' I can't afford that or 'they' might find me pushy or salesy. Its my fear that stops me moving forward.
So what has changed? Well, I have found focus in my business, this year I finally know what my services are and I have found my unique style of art which has definitely boosted my sense of self belief and self worth. I just know what i'm doing now, on a sensory and practical level. So now when well meaning friends and family say 'I think you should do this with your art, or that with your workshops' I no longer feel unsure that i'm doing the wrong thing, but am instead grateful for their love and interest in my business.
A new insight that the mandala art, workshops and counselling work are all interlinked and not 3 separate businesses, they are all things that are parts of who I am and fulfill me, which means that what I am offering others is genuine and from the heart and from my own experience. I no longer have to find the 'thing' that people will want to buy from me. Some people will resonate with my work and others won't and that is as it is meant to be. It sounds so simple but I've only just realised.
With these changes in my self and business concept has come the awareness that being confident does not mean I will be experienced by others as big headed or insensitive, as I previously feared. That my new found conviction in what I am doing and what I am offering others is a really beautiful and worthwhile experience <3 I'm starting to feel happy talking about what I do, not embarrassed that i'm passionate but sharing that passion with others open heartedly.
One of the things I've done differently this last few months is meet regularly with a couple of amazing female friends, who are on a similar business and self development journey as me. These meetings are really helping me to break away from the inner dialogue of uncertainty and procrastination. We support each other and hold a metaphorical mirror up to what we're doing, with reflections that are not distorted by our own internal critics, but instead give each of us a really clear image of where we are and where we are going, its wonderful as we can be passionate and driven but also down and disheartened and its all ok.
These meetings have inspired me to get some external support (cos im worth it ;) in the form of a business coach, its early days but she is someone I connected with at an Mind Body Soul event and i really resonate with her ideas and approach to her work and her life as a holistic process. Already I feel inspired to try new things and be brave with my business.
This is about a journey, and how gradual changes can sneak up on you and hit you with a big realisation. I'm sure there will be many more to come and as a life long 'cup half full' person, I've never anticipated when fear and procrastination will strike, and I know they will again, but for now I am grateful for the movement and flow of this journey and hope some of you get something from reading it.
p.s. I noticed myself feeling unsure before posting this, as its a bit more personal than my usual updates... but as the Susan Jeffers book says i'm gonna 'Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway'! x
This week has been all about breaking away from procrastination. I'm not sure how you deal with the things you have to do that are out of your comfort zone, but I often do lots of other 'important things' that I tell myself must be done first. This makes me feel like I'm busy and works as a perfect avoidance of the bigger task that needs doing.
I'm specifically talking about my plans that I shared last week (see last weeks News Blog) to step into the real world and promote my workshops and business, I have done it, but only this morning!
So today I have broken my week of procrastination and i'm feeling quite pleased with myself. I started at the local town council, they are happy to promote my workshops and invited me to attend their big fair on the 15th of July to get my business seen and promoted.
I went to a wellbeing centre and a couple of cafe's to distribute workshop leaflets.
One of the cafe's, I've had my eye on for quite a while, as a potential venue for my 'Monday Morning Mandala Drop-In' and I was all fluttering butterflies in my tummy when I walked in, as I had the plan in my head but no idea how/if they would like it. I asked the manager if I could base my drop-in sessions there, without a fee other than the custom they would gain from my workshop attendees and they agreed, starting September, which is very pleasing.
Lastly I visited the local florist, we mutually follow each other on Instagram and I've been meaning to pop in and say hi for a while. With my new Bouquet Mandala idea that i'm developing, I thought I would ask her if I could take photo's of her bouquets and create some examples of how bouquet mandalas would work, feeling brave and buoyed by the success of my venture so far, I asked and she has agreed.
So despite much procrastination I have started something good and useful and feel a little more confident after today's successes. I will be broadening my outward spiral and will let you know how things are going. I guess my biggest learning this week has been you don't know if you don't ask.
I am donating an A4 print of my first Bouquet Mandala to a lovely Bee fundraiser, happening this week on Facebook, i'll let you know how that goes next week.
Bridge Arts are a charity that i'm very closely linked to having volunteered on their committee and exhibited with them 3 years in a row. They are holding an exhibition in Bridge Cottage during the Uckfield Festival on 8th July, which I will be attending with mandala prints and originals. Its a fabulous event and very family friendly with a children's parade through the town to start things off and all sorts of activities on the field throughout the day. Check Bridge Arts in Uckfield FB page for more info.
My Originals Shop has new work available, i'm finally getting into a routine with listing work (and sometimes I use listing to procrastinate).
The first Freebie Friday in my SO Art Friends group went really well with a very deserving person winning the A5 print, remember this is a weekly event and opportunity for me to show my gratitude for your support and kindness in following my work.
Thanks for popping by and i'll be back next week with updates and maybe even some new work.
Image: Bee Bouquet, in progress.
This week is all about stepping out of my comfort zone and away from my studio and computer screen, out into the real world. Its something I've been meaning to do for a long time, take my promotional materials about groups, workshops and mandala art to local shops and cafes, community centres and clubs. I started writing a list of all the places I could potentially visit and its becoming quite large, every time I talk to someone about it they come with a new place and another idea.
I met up with a new friend and mandala enthusiast at the weekend and she had done some research and gathered some leaflets for me, talking about how to develop the workshops and where to promote them has really motivated me to get out there.
So I've decided to work in a spiral from my house, build up slowly and circle round at ever increasing distances into Sussex, my first trip out will be Tuesday this week.
I started my preparation for going out into the real world this morning by updating all the workshop information on my website. There are two types of workshop which though similar, function quite differently. The first is a 5 hour day, with vegetarian lunch provided. Its aimed at a small group of people, so quite intimate and aiming for an experience of mindful and intuitive mandala drawing with like minded people.
The other is a shorter more dynamic experience that people can host in their own homes and invite their friends to participate (a bit like a tupper-ware party for mandala art). For both types of workshop all materials are provided and organic geometry and mandala drawing will be part of the experience. I've looked into dates and hope to start the whole day workshops in September, the Making Mandalas-host a workshop can start over the summer. taking limited bookings. Wonderfully I already have the first booked out :)
I am excited to see what opportunities this new adventure will bring and will update next week how the first stage of being out and about goes.
There are some new originals in my web shop and later this week I will be adding new prints in my Etsy shop. On my FB page today is Monday Mandala where I offer work for reduced prices prior to uploading to shops where the outgoings are more, its a weekly regular post so keep your eyes open for it. In my lovely group, SO Art Friends, this week will see the first Freebie Friday, where every member has the chance to win an A5 archival quality print of their choice (chosen by Random.org) so if you are a fan of beautiful free gifts, pop along and join the group.
Finally I started a new style of mandala last week and will launch a 'made to order' option for Bouquet Mandalas on the 1st of July with a special introductory offer which will take place on facebook via their 'Create an Offer' section.
That's all from me this week... Although I have to say that you are getting version two of this Weekly News Blog as I accidentally (and frustratingly) deleted the first version.
Image: A6 postcard for workshops.