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mandalas, offerings

Mandala Meditation: Ganesh Yantra

Yantra-Ganesh-logo

“Where do you get all of your ideas?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question. I’ve been known to say, “Inspiration is everywhere.”

I think I’ll add to that statement, “Inspiration is everywhere. Look around you.” Thinking more about this, it’s more than looking around you. It’s about getting curious. It’s one thing to see something, it’s another to ask, “Why?” or “What if?”

I have a long list of topics that I’m currently exploring. I can never study just one thing. My mind loves devouring several topics at once and making connections between them.

One of my long time interests has been in exploring the meaning of our mandalas. The colors, shapes, symbols, and how they are arranged can tell us a lot about where we are in the moment. There are long standing traditions where mandalas are created with specific symbols and colors. One such tradition that I’ve been curious to learn more about is the Hindu yantras.

The earliest yantras date back 1,000 BCE in northern India. Throughout the ages, sacred teachings have been shared through mantras (sound vibrations) and yantras (visual representations).

The basic shape of a yantra is a circle with a ring of lotus petals. At the center, is a geometric pattern often with one or more triangles around a central dot. The entire shape is contained within a square with four “gates” in each of the cardinal directions. Color plays an important role in yantras as they bring energy, meaning, and intention to the design.

Yantras may be a part of a mandala where the yantra design is at the center and additional shapes, patterns, and colors are added as an expression of the artist’s exploration of the yantra’s energy and meaning.

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To begin this new exploration, I thought it fitting to start with the Ganesh Yantra.

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Lord Ganesha is commonly associated with the beginner of both inner and outer journeys and the remover of obstacles. It is also a good yantra as this is a foundational year for my career. There is a lot of uncertainty and my intention for creating this yantra is to bring clarity, confidence, guidance, and good fortune to my endeavors.

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As I considered the shapes and colors for this yantra, I drew upon what I’ve learned from studying and teaching the Great Round and my knowledge of the chakras.

I thought of the root chakra and chose red for the square and “gates” for three reasons:

  1. The root chakra is about safety, security and having a solid foundation.
  2. Elephants are associated with the root chakra and Ganesh bears the head of an elephant.
  3. The sturdy square with the four gates is reflective of Stage 7 in the Great Round where we “stand four square in who we are.” Red is among the colors typically used in this stage.

Triangles indicate a direction and here the upward pointing triangle conveys moving forward.  We see upward facing triangles in Stage Four of the Great Round when we are about to start something new, a burst of creativity, or it can refer to our aspirations. It is the symbol for the element fire and is associated with masculine “doing” energy.

Within the triangle is the six-pointed star formed by two triangles, one pointing upward and the second one pointing downward. This perfectly balanced symbol brings together and harmonizes both the masculine and feminine qualities.

Blue is associated with emotions and I chose to color the inner symbols in blue to soothe and balance my mind and emotions, with what I’m thinking and feeling.

Green was chosen as it’s the color of the heart chakra. What better container for the mind and emotions than a circle of love?

Orange and red petals capture my creative spirit and passion which I know will help me and my projects to blossom.

Lastly, I added a gold dot in the center, referred to by Hindus as the bindu. The bindu provides a focal point for centering one’s attention during meditation.

After I decided on my color palette for this yantra, I allowed my mind to float as different thoughts about my hopes, aspirations, and dreams emerged while coloring in the shapes. At times my thoughts veered down memory lane and different work scenarios. As each color was applied, I felt my energy and excitement rise.

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Meditating with this Yantra

I finished this yantra late in the evening. When done, I sat with it looking at all of the colors and memorizing each of the lines, shapes, and symbols. It wasn’t until the next morning during the liminal space between sleeping and waking that I intuited the meaning that this yantra had for me.

In my mind’s eye, I pictured the shapes and colors. I tuned in and felt my uncertainty and doubt around two recent projects. In both cases, I was doubting myself which is not a common feeling for me. Usually I’m decisive and when I take action, I accept that what is done is done. This time was different, perhaps because I’ve been feeling attached to the outcome.

Later in the morning, I spent time writing in my journal with periodic glances at the yantra. In a flash, I realized how much energy I was wasting by second guessing myself and listening to the opinions of others. When we put other peoples ideas, fears, and opinions before ours, we give our power away. Ah-ha! Now I see what is blocking me.

In my heart, I truly believe that the outcomes will be for the highest good for all. There is no need to worry. This is a time to relax in the uncertainty. As I easily and effortlessly released the worries, feelings of excitement filled my body, mind, and spirit. I can’t wait to see where my curiosity and creativity will take me next.

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Traditional Colors for Ganesh Yantra

The next day I returned to the Ganesh Yantra and this time used the traditional colors. I added flowing lines within the green areas, my own artistic invention, to represent the flow inward that happens when obstacles are removed.

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Version 3: Going with the Flow

Looking at my first two Ganesha Yantras, I decided to create a third one that is a fusion of some traditional colors with some colors and elements of my own choosing. I believe intention is the very most important ingredient in making powerful art. Before sitting down, I knew the palette and design for this yantra so I was able to fully let go into the process of creating it. Some of the lines are not precisely drawn, and I love it just as it is for it’s a reflection of my own perfectly imperfect container (aka body).

Thoughts drifted to the idea of flow, which coincidentally is my word-for-the-year. I thought about the importance of recognizing and releasing limiting beliefs and which ones that are blocking me. After I finished creating this yantra, I was moved to take an action step on an opportunity that I’m pursuing. I was impressed how the words for my letter flowed from my mind onto the computer screen.

This is the power of creating mandala art. We can relax and tap into our inner wise self, our inner Ganesha. The process of creating and coloring can be an opportunity for brainstorming, discerning, reflecting, and planning. It’s certainly so much more than making a pretty picture.

GreatRound-2018-Overview

Are you curious to learn more about the meaning of your mandalas?

For the first time in three years, I’m offering my Great Round course in the fall. It starts on August 26, 2018. It’s a fascinating series that will give you insights about yourself and your life experiences. You’ll find the exploration both insightful and empowering.

Early Bird special, enroll before June 27th at get $20 off.

>>Get the details and sign up here.

 

outings & adventures, photography, sacred sundays, watercolor

Sacred Sundays, Lupines, and Lobster Coves

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Seven months ago I made some lifestyle changes and declared Sundays as sacred. What makes them sacred? I unplug from social media and I don’t do any work; I spend quality time with my husband, savor nature, and create art. The idea is to slow down.

What I’ve discovered is how much I look forward to Sundays. My body, mind, and spirit deeply relaxes and I experience an inner peace and joy. I had no idea how much stress I was carrying until I made time to rest and renew on a regular basis.

Last Sunday, my husband and I ventured over to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.

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It’s lupine season here in New England and I was in awe of the reds and dark pinks found at the gardens.

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I’ve only seen the blues, light pinks, and white lupines.

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Hens and chicks are a favorite of mine from the succulent family.

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I snapped these shots to give me ideas for color combinations to use in future mandala projects.

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Here we find a little shelter from the hot midday sun where the shadows captivated my attention.

While many flowers were not blooming at this time, I enjoyed how the wind played with the sculptures.

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Often when we set out, we have an idea of where we’ll go but we are always open to the unexpected blessings and surprises that show up. Much to our luck we discovered a sweet spot on Lobster Cove for a picnic.

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When we arrived late on a Sunday afternoon, we had the place to ourselves. It felt incredibly peaceful. The swing on a beautiful old tree called to me. I couldn’t remember the last time that I sat on a swing. As I kicked my legs out and back, I allowed my mind to relax into the moment. The crispy cool air chilled my face as I watched it gently ripple the water. It was the perfect way to end our day.

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Sometimes the weather isn’t conducive for an outing or work demands our attention. Sacred Sundays then become Sacred Mondays or in this case Sacred Thursday. I googled, “breakfast with an ocean view” and found a restaurant called, “The Lobster Cove” in York Beach, Maine.

Our late morning arrival on a weekday meant we had our pick of seats on the deck.

We had ocean views on one side and …

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views of this marshy area on the other side.

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Looking down, little shadow mandalas dotted the deck.

As I look at the shadow photos in this post, thoughts go to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain who both appeared successful and having so much light to offer the world yet this week both took their own lives. While I don’t know the underlying issues and reasons for their deaths, what I do know is that our culture needs more Sacred Sundays, more unplugging, more time face-to-face hanging out with loved one, more time in nature, and more time getting creative or active.

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For today’s Sacred Sunday, I was inspired by the recurring “lobster cove” theme from our recent two outings. I pulled out my Arteza water-based brush pens to create this colorful lobster. There is a spontaneity and unpredictability with watercolors and it’s so much fun to see how the water interacts with the colors. I find myself giddy and playing like a kid.

How about you? Are you always plugged in? Carve out some time this week to pull the plug, find a swing at a nearby park or gather up some art supplies to make something.

 

journal

Do you have a muse?

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All my life, friends, family and acquaintances have said, “You are so creative!” I feel like I can’t take credit for my creativity. The creative process may look like a solitary act on the outside, but it isn’t. I often feel like a creative conduit where the ideas flow through me.

The best way to explain it is to share a story.

Each month, I host an interactive online journal class. Participants get an envelope in the mail with a few items tucked inside to use during our time together.

A new theme is explored where I work in one of the four elements, air, water, fire, or earth and I invite an animal ally to join us. The design of the envelope picks up on elements from the theme. Invariably these envelopes design themselves.

Sounds a bit crazy, right?

Read on as the story behind the latest workshop envelope may be evidence that the creative process is a co-creative act between the artist and something divine.

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For my next journal workshop, it was time to work with the element of earth and I settled on the idea of the “soul garden.”

I sat down to work up the envelope design a couple of times, but I felt resistance and the pieces were not falling together. When this happens, I walk away and return another time.

One morning last week, I had it on my to do list to get this envelope finally designed. I didn’t feel any pressure and in fact, started my day connecting with a friend on Zoom. My spirits were high and my outlook hopeful. The sun was shining and a wonderful breeze blew into the room.

Sitting on the arm of my futon in my studio were two journals. The journal on the top, a simple drawing pad, was filled with mandalas that I drew each day for 21 days while doing an Ayurvedic cleanse last spring. Having renewed my commitment to getting healthy, I had pulled it out to reread the entries.

After I finished the chat with my friend, I looked over and noticed how the wind had blown the journal open. As I walked over to the journal, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

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The title of the journal page read, “The Gentle Gardener.” It couldn’t have been more perfect! This was the very direction I needed for developing the design for this next workshop.

Excitement and energy coursed through my body as I read the notes in my journal taken from Collette Baron-Reid’s “The Enchanted Map” oracle deck.

“Be your own person. Be a conscious co-creator.”

I thanked spirit and my inner shaman for guiding me as I scanned the mandala and set out to design the envelope.

But wait, there’s more to this story of divine co-creating.

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I selected some painted paper that I had made about seven years ago. The color and pattern reminded me of a beehive and would look great with the vintage bee illustration. As I dropped the scan into my envelope design, the words, “trust that our souls are embraced” filled my computer screen. I paused in awe, speechless.

Trust that our souls are embraced.

I looked around the page for more messages and I found, “claim the sacred” and “soul sparks.”

These little messages were hidden within this painted paper design from seven years ago and waiting for this moment. I call these incredible moments examples of divine synchronicity.

This is how this workshop series has been for me, filled with spirit, inspirations, synchronicities, and co-creation. This is the same for the participants who find the Soul Journey guided meditations relaxing, the oracle card readings meaningful, and the journal prompts playful and fun.

In these journal workshops, I create an experience that allows participants to listen to the wisdom of their soul, trust their intuition, and activate their creativity.

What makes these journal sessions so special are the people who attend from various locations around the world. We delight in hearing and seeing each other as we share the stories of our experiences.

“You have something really special here,” said Yvonne during the last workshop.

I would agree, it’s indeed very special.

Would you like to join me for the next workshop in June?

Vision Journal Workshop #5
June 2018
Online Class

After your register, you’ll have the option to select the date/time that is best for you.

SESSION 1: Friday, June 22, 2018
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., EST

SESSION 2: Saturday, June 23, 2018
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., EST

Can’t attend live? You’ll get a recording of the event.

There are only 20 spots!

This workshop fills up so quickly!

$35 (same low price for US and International orders)

It’s recommended that you register before June 10th so you get your envelope and goodies in time for the event. Register sooner if you live in a remote location or outside the US.

>> CLICK HERE to REGISTER <<


Missed a Workshop?

There is a limited supply of workshop envelopes available. When you order, the envelope will be mailed off to you and you’ll get instant access to the workshop recordings.

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Journal Workshop #1
Topic: New Beginnings

New beginnings are so exciting. Tucked inside the envelope you’ll find a beautiful door, sparkly stars, and an antelope ally to play with in your journal as you explore the new beginnings and many possibilities in your life.

Order Now

SQUARE-VisionJournal2

Journal Workshop #2
Topic: Unexpected Blessings & Surprises
Element: Air

Unexpected blessings and surprises await you! When we open our hearts, slow down and listen, we notice the divine synchronicities around us. In this workshop, we are guided by bird spirit and given golden wings to help us to shift our perspective from being caught in the weeds to becoming the sacred observer.

Order Now

SQUARE-VisionJournal3

Journal Workshop #3
Topic: Grit & Pearl
Element: Water

I invited a starfish and nautilus to join us in this journal workshop as we explore the gritty parts of our lives and the pearls of wisdom. Tap into the wisdom of your soul in the Soul Journey and Oracle Card reading activities.

Order Now

SQUARE-VisionJournal4

Journal Workshop #4
Element: Fire
Topic: Follow Your Bliss

Following Your Bliss can require you to muster up courage. In this journal workshop, you’ll tap into your inner strength, confidence, and determination; recognize your strengths; and discover the secrets of lucky people.

Any time you are feeling like the scared traveler, return to the Soul Journey in this lesson. Know that you have everything within you to pursue your dreams.

Order Now

 

 

mandalas

5 Reasons to Start a Mandala Practice

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Mandalas are everywhere. We see these circular designs with repeating patterns in coloring books, clothing, linens, and home decor. Mandala is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates as “circle” or “center.” While mandalas are rooted in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, humans have been fascinated by circular design motifs across all cultures and times. Celtic spirals, the Chinese yin/yang symbol, rose windows, and Navajo sand paintings are a few examples. In nature, we find mandala patterns in nautilus shells, pinecones, and the seed heads of sunflowers.

The practice of creating and coloring mandalas is more than making pretty pictures. Here are five reasons to start a mandala practice.

1. It relaxes the body and mind. A mandala practice can be as simple as coloring mandalas found in the many adult coloring books on the market today or downloaded for free from the web. When we unplug from our electronics in order to sit quietly and color, our bodies and minds relax. Focusing on filling the repeating shapes with color gives our minds a break from the worries of the day and the busyness in our schedules. As our minds relax, our bodies follow. For maximum benefit, turn off your phone and other devices, turn on some relaxing music, diffuse your favorite essential oils, and drink a warm beverage. Take it even further by practicing yoga, dancing, or soak in a warm bath before sitting down to color. The relaxation experienced from coloring mandalas eases stress and anxiety and helps you sleep.

2. It activates your creativity. Drawing your own mandala designs requires no artistic background. I tell my students, “If you can print your name and the alphabet, you can draw a mandala.” We use the same lines and shapes—vertical, horizontal, curved, diagonal—whether we draw the mandala freehand or within a grid. Within 15 minutes, I see students take flight in drawing their own mandala designs and discovering their creative abilities. Activating our creativity in this way helps us bring creativity to other areas of our lives.

3. It improves focus and enhances clarity. When you’re drawing a mandala, you can’t think about anything else. That clears the mind to be able to focus. After constructing the mandala, we shift gears to color it, and our attention may shift to our thoughts and feelings. We can quietly reflect on the day and use this time to brainstorm a solution to a problem, or consider possibilities for a decision that we need to make. One of my favorite practices is to focus on an intention, such as gratitude, while creating my mandala. I may even fill the shapes and spaces of my mandala with words and phrases to acknowledge what I appreciate in myself, others, and my life.

4. It centers and connects you. What’s the difference between coloring and drawing within a circle compared to other designs? The circle offers a safe container to focus one’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas—whether the mandala is in the traditional style, with the shapes radiating from the center, or a contemporary design that’s more freeform and abstract. As we draw a mandala and color it in, we see patterns emerge before us that may reflect the centeredness and connections found within ourselves, friends, family, colleagues, and communities, both local and global. These connections foster understanding and compassion toward ourselves and others.

5. It’s fun! Perhaps the number-one reason to start a mandala practice is the joy that comes from witnessing a work of art emerge from your own hands. A warning: Once you get started, you’ll find it hard to stop!

Originally written for Kripalu.org.

How to Get Your Mandala Practice Started

Read a Book: My book, “The Mandala Guidebook: How to Draw, Paint, and Color Expressive Mandala Art” is packed with beautiful illustrations and easy step-by-step instructions covering a wide range of styles, techniques, and mediums. Sample It! Download the first chapter.

Watch these Videos: I’ve taught thousands of people how to draw mandalas in my YouTube videos. Get your pen and paper ready and Tune In Here.

Take a Class: My book and YouTube videos are just the start. This 10-part series will guide you in creating mandalas quickly and successfully. Get the Deets & Sign Up!

Join a Mandala Community: The Sharing Circle is a private website for mandala enthusiasts. It’s the best place on the web to get encouragement, especially when you are just starting out! Join Here Did I mention it’s free?

how-to, mandalas, watercolor

Product Review: Arteza Water-based Brush Pens

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Arteza reached out to me asking if I would give an honest review of three of their products: 48 Water-Based Ink Real Brush Pens, Water Brush Pens, and Premium Watercolor Paper.

Run Time: 14:27

Related Links

Color I Course – For more product demos and lessons on creating color harmony. 

Mandala Drawing I Course – Learn how to draw mandalas. Ten video lessons, each one under ten minutes to get you started creating mandalas quickly and successfully. 

Sharing Circle – I’d love to see you in our online community for mandala enthusiasts. It’s FREE!

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Arteza Affiliate Links

Arteza provide the products for this review. I was not paid for this review. I’m now participating in the Arteza Affiliate Program, which means if you click on the product links in this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I use these commissions to purchase products to giveaway in my monthly mandala challenges or to use in my workshops and courses.

Arteza Watercolor Real Brush Pens (Set of 48)

Arteza Water Brush Pens (Set of 6)

Arteza 9×12” Watercolor Pad (140lb/300g, 32 Sheets, 2 pack)