Thursday, December 29, 2011

Creative Circles

I have found that creating Mandalas is complimentary to Circle work, in the way the creative process helps one to listen more deeply to one's self and become more 'open-hearted' to what surfaces from the heart. In Circle, we are asked to 'speak from the heart' about what matters most to us, yet in order to do so, we must first know what this means and how put 'heart speak' into practice. It is possible that creating Mandalas can help to teach us this.

While undertaking my master thesis, I created Mandalas – as another means of personal journaling and reflection to deepen the learning process and to empower a richer personal understanding of Circle and its significance for Environmental Education. I would begin each (thesis) work week with “Mandala Mondays” and go from there. Each Mandala would draw out a theme or concept of Circle which I would then spend time writing about that week. I used a variety of mediums (paints, crayons, cloth material, pens, etc.) to make my sacred creations. For example, this Mandala entitled “My Ecological Identity” (below) was a reflection on perceiving the Earth and all life forms as an extension of self.

I challenge anyone and everyone interested in enriching their experience of Circle to create a Mandala or two… and/or take up my Mandala Monday Challenge – a commitment to begin each week with a Mandala creation to open up more fully to what your heart is saying, and trusting in this message to be the very thing you need to enrich your soulful learning direction in the week ahead.

Here’s how to participate:

1.      Create a ‘contained space’ in which you will communicate from the heart through creative artwork.  Find a piece of paper or another kind of blank canvass - on which you will draw, trace or cut out a Circle - in which you will create your Mandala masterpiece.
2.      Choose your medium of choice. It doesn’t matter what you use to draw/paint with – go with whatever you feel like – this may change from creation to creation. Mix it up. Be color coordinator or chaotic – use one or a variety of mediums - it doesn’t matter.
3.      Let whatever surfaces manifest in art form. When you speak from the heart you are not thinking from the head – nor should you critic or judge what you are creating – it is what it is. Go with the flow, trust in what surfaces, allow it to manifest in creative form, don’t judge the finished product.
4.     Learn from the process. Learning is not so much from creating a finished product, rather it is in the process of creating itself, the thoughts and feelings that move through you as you create. Also, you may have no idea what it is your heart is saying until you reflect more deeply on the process, and on what you created.
5.  Believe that Mandalas are all about heart.  Some people think that Mandalas should be symmetrical in design, with repeated shapes & colors throughout the circumference of the art form to be considered a Mandala. This is not true, although there are many beautiful Mandalas that are like this.  If you open up to what your heart is saying and allow whatever shape, design, color that manifest within the circle canvass space - this is what creating a Mandala is all about. Creating Mandalas are about moving out of the head and into 'heart' space - a meaningful meditative creative expression of sorts.
6.  Enjoy the creative process. It is far easier to get the creative juices flowing, to undertake a creative task, etc. when one is "in joy" ("enjoy"), that is, when you engage in what it is you do from a place of joy and gratitude. Creativity and joy flow from the same place - the heart.
7. Reflect on the process. Opportunity to gain more insight and learning can be found when you take time to reflect more deeply on your work through creative writing (journal, freestyle, poems, etc.). Start with giving your Mandala a "title" and go from there.

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