Mandala for Inspiration
For inspiration, during the beginning, middle or end of a project or cycle. To access inner knowing and guidance.
Take a few, deep breaths. Look at the mandala and feel yourself being filled with uplifting, expansive energy. Envision the energy flowing outward, into your environment and endeavors, into their ripe and open spaces.
Well, people have been saying that here, for years. At which temperature is too cold determined? I told Piper this story, last year when he came here. You can see in his photo that he didn't believe me. Usually, by February, -20 to -30 nights are behind us, but not this year. Brrrr.
I was just outside, around 5:30 p.m. The thermometer was hovering near zero and, you guessed it, it was snowing. I went out to wrap another horse's leg who has a wound that needed bandaging. This horse is a star patient and not at all fazed by the cold. Not me. My attire for this activity? Long underwear, fleece pants. Fleece pullover and jacket. Coveralls and over sized parka. Hat and boots, rated to 20 below.
The good news? The landscape is spectacular when the air is frigid, especially after our recent 18” of snow. Thirty above will feel warm, when it comes!
Alice laughed. “There's no use trying,” she said. “One can't believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven't had much practice,” said the Queen.”When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland
From my experience, among other things, being an artist requires believing in what others consider impossible. Included, of course, is making visible what has not been seen before. So too, can be thinking somewhat differently than those that are more conventional. Some members of society are meant to maintain and embrace solidity and structure. Others, such as artists, are meant to make waves, to keep implosion and stagnancy from happening.
So then, how do we each define and determine our individual versions of what is possible and impossible? Why can it be easier to believe in limiting fears, rather than new, expansive possibilities? I do know that people who see, sense and support potential create openings for others into the seemingly impossible, allowing questions to arise that can challenge and change previously held beliefs.
I'm doing a daily practice of noticing old thought patterns and limitations and believing in the possibilities of impossible things. When doubt and fear arise, I'm engaging in outrageous and optimistic imagining. Why not?
Stellar Guardian, acrylic on canvas, Carol Connor
The Solstice is approaching!
In the meantime, during these longest nights, just as the new moon is waxing, it is a glorious time to see and appreciate the stars. In the midst of preparing for and celebrating the holidays, this is a lovely respite in the midst of activity.
There's something about looking upward at the night sky that evokes a sense of timelessness, eternity and perspective.
May you “ride the Night Mare. See with owl eyes. Dream with sleeping bear.”
Being self-employed, like most everything in life, has advantages and disadvantages, right? Some of us tend to not wear all of the necessary hats equally well and sometimes avoid putting some on at all.
A wise, self employed friend recently told me that she does one challenging task daily, one that that is frustrating, unpleasant or a struggle, the kind that you think you can't do or do well, that feels constricting and causes dread, brings on procrastination and gets you reaching for the cookie jar, distracted by social media or running outside, far from your computer.
You know what? I'm finding that she's right! The surge of energy, the sense of accomplishment, then relief that follows is empowering, when taking on even the smallest of actions. The “yuck” responses within me are lessening, as new skills increase. I'm liking not carrying the weight of avoidance and making more progress with goals and intentions.
Today, here in the mountains, there is a pre-winter stillness. No wind, to be felt or heard. Most of the birds have migrated and only the sounds of the river penetrate the silence.
The river has much to say, not in words, but with messages from the earth and rocks that it passes over. Oh, to be able to hear them as clearly as others once did. This is an invitation to stop, to sense, to observe and have gratitude for solitude and nature.
I'm taking a break from getting ready for winter, breathing in the serenity and solitude, on perhaps the last warm day. I'm eating wild rose hips, rich with vitamin C and although past their prime, still delicious, when warmed by the sun, after being frozen. The trick is to nibble the outer layer of skin, and not the bitter pulp and seeds.
Circles and cycles have been on my mind. Here are pictures of wagon wheels around the ranch. Here, too, is a wreath that I made with dried oregano flowers from my garden, some of the last of fall's blooms.
Are You Addicted To Speed?
Well, I am. Or, hopefully, I was.
I love to gallop horses and ski fast, while regulating the speed. But, the kind of speed I'm talking about is the addiction to getting things done quickly, in order to save time. With the pretense of avoiding feeling overwhelmed and to outrun the perpetual pressures in life, self-imposed or otherwise; to do enough, keep up and catch up.
Tortoise and Hare Revisited:
I've always been a quick reader, fast mover and talker. Sure, having hare characteristics are no better or worse than having tortoise ones. Yet, look around. The addiction to speed is the cultural belief that faster+busier= more gets done. Which more? Is more better? What, for each of us, is truly important?
What can happen with speed- for- the -sake -of -it thinking and behavior? Unproductive multi-tasking. Rushing, physically, emotionally and mentally. The result? Some pleasant surges of adrenaline. Then tension, accelerating into impatience and anxiety. The inability to be receptive and flexible. Strict adherence to a self-imposed schedule, with no time allowed for mistakes, setbacks and unexpected occurrences. Flashes of unrelenting perfectionism. Sound familiar?
A Choice: Stepping Out Of “Crazy Busy”:
In the flurry of recent, crowded tourist town summers, when asked how I was, I used to answer, “Good, but crazy busy”. Yeow. Why has this become a standard reply, implying that it's just the way it is? Why do I or does anyone else buy into that? What are the individual choices to be made?
Dismantling Cultural Beliefs & Choosing Values:
Yes, taking deep breaths works. So does meditation, being in nature and other practices for being present. But, how many of us do these things, then switch back into speed mode? In addition to these practices, it's time to look into our beliefs and at those cultural rules that can be dismantled or at least not adhered to. It's time to review and to embrace values based upon choice, not by outward pressure. Its time to claim the importance of solitude and being receptive.
Wouldn't that be cool, if it was considered cool? We can shape culture, not merely be shaped by it.
Declare that being is as important as doing:
Be non-negotiable with time alone.
Take at least 15 minutes a day to be unplugged, to relax, reflect, imagine and intend. Remember that the best creators, geniuses and innovators have been known to take naps, soak in the tub, meditate, take long walks, and otherwise seemingly “do nothing”, which is really the ability to be receptive and to perceive, to download ideas and insights. Why is that o.k for Einstein and not for you or me? So- called “wasting time” in this way can make time to for extraordinary doing.
Notice, when doing several things at once, how present you actually are. I can talk on the phone while washing dishes or folding laundry and feel that I am fully engaged in the conversation. Reading or writing an email while on the phone? Not so much. It feels like my wavering attention dishonors that person.
Making Peace With Not Being Caught Up:
For me, a work in progress. Rather than stressing about not getting everything
accomplished in my chosen time frame, I'm learning to recognize and trust the greater timing that goes on behind, above and below the scenes. Ego timing isn't often in sync with spiritual timing, right?
I'd love to hear about your experiences and practices.
Spring fever! Can't you feel it?
Here in the mountains during April, winter advances and recedes, on and off again. The weather is wild! Anything goes: snow flurries, sunshine and warmth, mud and sometimes, rain. There is constant melting, thawing and refreezing. There are icicles and growing grass.
After the deep silence of winter, the sounds of nature awakening are thrilling. Rivers and ditches come alive. Songbirds return. Plant life emerges. Animals rapidly shed their winter coats. The wind is wild!
Spring fever! New beginnings, new growth. Those urges to get going. To wake it up, clean it up, change it up, shed it off or shake it loose. Here is a mandala for focusing and harnessing energies, a container for balanced motion, for planting seeds, for beginning new projects and endeavors and for optimum timing of the unfolding of your intentions.
To use this mandala: Take several, deep breaths. Focus upon an intention, a new beginning that may be physical, emotional, metal or spiritual. Sense your intention or desire being represented by the shapes and colors within the mandala.
Softly gaze at the mandala. Notice the swirling, undulating, unfolding, pulsating shapes and colors within it. See the center sphere spiraling out, unfurling energies after the dormancy of winter. What is dormant within you, waiting to be released?
Notice the blues in the circle surrounding it, filled with the rapid movement of the elements water and air and the yellows for expansion. Absorb the the bright greens of new growth.
Focus upon the open spaces within the mandala. Sense the new growth within you and the new opportunities that will support it. Trust that the timing of their arrival will be for your soul purpose, whether or not this is the time frame that you may otherwise choose.
End, with a thought or more of gratitude. Each time this practice is done, your intention becomes stronger. You may use the mandala to seed further intentions, whether it is springtime or not.
Cancer. The word that evokes fear, dread and sadness. Can you think of anyone that has not been directly or indirectly impacted by it? Who hasn't witnessed or experienced the resulting struggles, pain and triumphs, physically and otherwise?
I have had several family members in the last few years with cancer, the oldest in his '80's and the youngest just over a year, not to mention friends in all decades in between. I've thought about drawing visual aids to support them further, in addition to their healthcare. Here's what I've made: mandalas, to be used for envisioning physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being, for anyone with cancer and by their families, friends and caregivers. Please feel free to download, print or use, in any way that you'd like.
If you are not familiar with mandalas, a mandala is a sacred circle. They can be thought of as spheres or containers for housing symbols. Throughout the ages, in a variety of cultures and traditions, including Buddhist, Hindu, Navajo and in Jungian psychology, these circular images have been drawn, painted, carved or made of colored sand, for spiritual purposes.
Using a symbol as a tool for healing support :
Symbols can be intentions made visible, to be used as affirmations, with thought, in prayer and during meditation, for healing.
If you are wondering how this works, consider this: When you have a gut feeling about a symbol, if you are stirred by its meaning, shapes and colors, you have resonance with that symbol, or some commonality with its essence; for example, an aspect of healing cancer. The symbol becomes energized when you activate it with your love and intention.
Within each mandala are shapes and colors, to represent various phases of healing from cancer. You don't have to know what each specific shape and color represents. If you do receive insights about these, good! If not, your practice will still be as effective. This is intuition, about feeling and sensing and focusing your intentions on the mandala, as you visualize sending them to the person that you are supporting.
Using the mandalas:
-Take a few deep breaths, to become relaxed and focused.
-See yourself or the person that you choose to aid in healing.
-Feel within, the strength of your love and caring and ability to assist.
-Choose a mandala that feels most appropriate for the current process of healing.
- Set an intention or affirmation,in alignment with the theme of the mandala. Or, use or adapt one, below.
-Look at the mandala, while holding the intention. This may be done for seconds, minutes or longer, till the experience feels complete. The more often that you and others participate in doing this, the more strength and energy the mandala will have and send.
-End, with a word or phrase of closure, gratitude, prayer or blessing.
Suggested affirmations and intentions:
“I intend to assist ______________ in [her/his/my] recovery from surgery.”
“ I envision the growth of new, healthy cells for ___________.”
“ I visualize physical, emotional, mental and spiritual strength and well- being for___________”, during the duration of healing ."
The titles and descriptions of the mandalas are suggestions. Please add to or alter, for what you sense is most helpful.
To imagine does not mean to pretend. Imagining is real. Imagining can be done by feeling love within your heart, by seeing within, if you are a visual person or hearing, if you are an auditory person. There is no right way, just the way that works for you.
Mandala #1— Aid for Eliminating Cancerous Cells:
Imagine the cancerous cells disappearing, in support of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or any other healing method. Imagine his/her body being filled with light, replacing the darkness of cancer.
Mandala #2- Aid for Healthy New Growth: Imagine the growth of new cells within the person. Imagine her/his overall well-being and readiness for their next chapter in life.
Mandala #3- Aid for Strength: Imagine the flooding of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual strength and support, into the person. Imagine that he or she is receiving what is required for their highest good.
Mandala #4- Aid for Transitions: Imagine, during the ebbs and flows of the person's journey through cancer, whether in recovery, remission or the end of life, a constant flow of love and support.
Making art is that itch that is never fully scratched. The monkey on your back, the muse that whispers into your ear, “You gotta make art! Do it now!” This can especially happen during your day or night job, as does the urge to ride...
Like making art, for some of us, the unending fascination with horses, the illogical need to be with them, is a lifelong pursuit. This means not only to ride, but to immerse yourself into every aspect of horse existence, to experience their interactions and relationships with humans and each other. It is to know their weird blend of wildness and domesticity. They are like a drug that certain hearts and souls crave, an addiction, an affliction, that perplexes those around us. For me, this comes about through the practice of Dressage, the discipline of English riding that results in the ultimate dance between horse and human. For those of us forever learning the steps, our riding is seen by the uninformed as merely going around in circles, as exciting as watching paint dry.
The unrelenting passion, the risks taken, the hard work, the ecstasy, heartbreak and everything else in between, is shared by artists and equestrians. Oh, the undying hope of reaching, considered by the pragmatic, as totally unattainable, unrealistic goals, having little to do with logic or economic sense, such as:
Hmm. Those endless decisions, where practicality is laced with support of addiction. To buy brushes or groceries? To go to the dentist or get your horse's teeth floated? Equine dentist appointment made, human not.
Dressage riders and artists love shapes and patterns and are hyperconscious of details, otherwise seen as being persnickety and perfectionistic. Why else would a person spend endless hours attempting to ride a perfect circle, movement or test? Why the fascination, in painting the same things over and over again? What is seemingly boring is really about being in the zone.
For those of us with both passions, there may be no hope for our coming to our senses. But, so it goes, with other addictions. I remember my ski bumming days, surviving on free hot chocolate and crackers, in between meager paychecks. But, what would life be, without choosing to do what you love?