What I have loved the most about creating mandalas is how I may step before the circle with an idea in mind of what I’ll create but invariably, something quite unexpected emerges. It may be the design itself that takes a turn, often a result from happy accidents from experimenting with new materials or drawing techniques. More often than not, it is the mandala story that emerges that fascinates me.
What is a mandala story? These are the insights that come from both the process and the final design of the mandala. The stories can be from making free associations with the colors and symbols that invoke a memory. It may be the thoughts and feelings that bubble up from our subconscious ready for our attention and to be released. The Great Round course is ripe with prompts for exploring your mandala stories.
Today’s featured mandala from the Great Round Course is an exercise designed by the talented Susanne Fincher called the “Ancestors Holding Mandala.”
The exercise invites us to reflect on the gifts of our ancestors and to weave them into the mandala design. If you don’t have information about your family, you can invoke your ancestors by including symbols to represent your ethnicity, country of origin, etc.
Constructing this mandala is quite simply to draw a 10” circle with an 8’’ or 9” circle inside it. You’ll see from my mandala, I took creative liberties and drew a rectangle instead of a circle.
Next fill the space between the inner and outer circles to create a border with symbols that represent your grand-and great-grandmothers and fathers.
In honor of my Nana and the wonderful memories of us crafting together, I started the border with a simple knot work pattern giving a nod to the many hours we spent together on macrame projects.
I added a dashed line pattern and x’s to honor my other grandmother who was a skilled seamstress. I smile thinking back on her patience with me as she showed me the basics of sewing, cross-stitch, and needlepoint.
I filled the spaces above and below the border with waves in memory of my mom’s dad, Popop who was a waterman in the Chesapeake Bay and from whom I discovered a love for the ocean.
In the next step Susanne writes, “Take some deep, relaxing breaths as you sit quietly reflecting on your mandala and the matrix of support generated for you by those who have gone before. Then scatter a few seeds, grains, beads, or other small objects in the empty center space of your mandala.”
“Be open to discovering the helpful message among the random objects. This might be a new way of looking at your life from the perspective of those who have lived a long time. It might be the inspiration for a new venture. It might even be permission to move on and let the past be in the past.”
Pictured here are family photos of my grandmother on the left, and my Nana and Popop on the right.
Much to my surprise and delight, I found creating this mandala to be soothing and comforting. The soft, gentle colors played a part along with conjuring up sweet memories from my childhood.
When I created this mandala back in 2018, my journal entry notes how stressed I was feeling about making big changes in my career. Sitting with my finished mandala, I noticed how the center design looked like a magic carpet. I imagined sitting safely on the carpet as it lifted me high above the turbulent waters that represent my emotions and fears. Rising above our current situation can give us the perspective of the sacred observer. I thought about all of the difficult times that I’ve overcome in my life and how these experiences have prepared me for what’s next. Creating this mandala also helped me to invoke the feeling that my ancestors were and continue to be with me in moments of uncertainty.
This mandala exercise gave me a precious gift, the feeling that I am safe and supported. It gave me another gift, knowing that I have the ability through creating mandala art to soothe, comfort and nurture my self.
Great Round Course
The “Ancestors Holding Mandala” is one of 100+ activities found in the Great Round course.
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Registration closes on February 28, 2022 for the Great Round Course.