Yesterday I decided to take some time out for me.
I gave myself permission to step back from the demands and challenges that I was encountering, as we all do from time to time.
I chose to spend my time of non-doing creating a sand mandala , expressing my "doing-not doing" in a creative and meditative way.
This is one of my favourite ways of connecting to myself, letting go into the process and allowing myself to create without judgement.
On completion of the mandala (and when I feel the time is right) I sweep it up into a pot and give it back to nature.
This is such a cathartic exercise in letting go.....in accepting the impermanence of everything and allowing me the opportunity of practising non- attachment.
I admit it is slightly “cheating” to take photos of the mandalas- but how else can I look back and remind myself how far I've come?! Plus, I'm not a purist and have always been one to bend and break the “rules”!
As I worked, I began to think about the technicalities involved in creating a sand mandala.
How all the little details ultimately combined to co- create the mandala.
How each detail impacts the mandala- some of which I control and am responsible for and some not.
When I take into consideration all aspects of the creation of the mandala and I let go into that process of “doing- not-doing” , I am able to create my own individual expression of beauty and bliss.
This mandala became a metaphor for :
LIVING MY BEST LIFE
I trust you will see how applying this metaphor to my approach to life will help me in creating and living my life in a way that is congruent to me.
A way to keep myself in check and also help myself be happy with the outcome- whatever the outcome.
Let me explain the techniques involved in creating a mandala.
The completion of a sand-mandala depends on many different factors.
There are some practical technicalities to be considered.
Some useful observations to take into account.
The tool used in mandala making is called a chakpur.
These come in different sizes with the hole at the tip varying in size in order to accommodate different grades (shape and size) of sands. I also choose which chakpur to use depending on the size of the space I am sand-colouring.
Many aspects of how I use the chakpur also determine the flow of the sand and therefore the outcome of the mandala creation:
The angle at which I hold the chakpur and also approach the mandala.
How much sand I put into the chakpur also influences the flow - too much and it comes out in a gush.....
The friction I create by rubbing the chakpur .......( the sand flows out at a rate determined by how much friction I create by rubbing the ridges on the chakpur with a metal rod the size of a large nail).....
How I hold the chakpur- am I gripping it too tightly or do I have a relaxed and comfortable control of it?
How much friction am I creating? How much intensity is there behind the vibration I am creating ?
What frequency of vibration am I creating?
Am I holding tension anywhere in my body- eg. Are my shoulders relaxed or tense and hunched?
Am I breathing easily?
Sometimes I need to take long deep breaths and sometimes I breathe lighter, easier....either way I need to stay connected to my breath with an awareness of the flow of my breathing...
Sometimes I focus deeply on my mandala and sometimes I find myself adrift in another space .....
Sometimes I must bring my focus back to the mandala and sometimes I allow myself explore and experience on a sub-conscious level.......
Frequently mandaling puts me into a deep meditative state, an altered state of consciousness, trance state, where I am open to and receive profound insight on many levels.....
The grade and texture of the sand also determines the flow into the mandala.
I must adjust accordingly by matching the right chakpur for the grade of sand, size of space to be filled and the surface onto which it will flow.
Sometimes it flows and falls like water and sometimes it creates mini-mountains....a myriad of miniature, almost imperceptible bumps and dips.....
I can hide mistakes and imperfections by covering them up with a sprinkling or even another layer of sand; or I can just leave them visible as part of the whole mandala, accepting the beauty in imperfection.
Sometimes I listen to music on my headphones while I'm working.
( I don't see it as work- more re- creation!) This can enable me to shut out any distractions and to be absorbed in each step of the way....
Equally, interruptions and distractions inevitably bytimes occur and can be part of the process, often contributing to the creation of my mandala.
When I trust and let go into it, the mandala guides me around the pattern without analysis or judgement. At that point of connection, being at one with the process, the mandala speaks to me and a message, or story, unfolds. The picture becomes clear and the purpose apparent when connected to that unified field of consciousness.....
I may find that I'm mixing colours shapes and textures that would ordinarily go against my OCD Virgo Nature!
Normally I would prevent myself ( or at the very least, hesitate and question myself !) from creating any perceived colour clashes etc. - but in full flow mandaling I with-hold judgement , allowing myself to be guided by my intuition and my mandala itself.
The sand seems to want to create natural geommetric forms and shapes itself- it almost stays between the lines in order to do so and it is only my own interference that can cause a disruption and a resulting squiggle where it's not “meant” to be!
The surface where I create my mandala also impacts on and contributes to the final creation. The sand reacts differently to different surfaces; some surfaces are more willing to receive and participate than others. Some are hard and unyielding and bounce and scatter the sand until I adjust my technique and skill accordingly.
There may be points along the creation process that I feel dissatisfied with how it is progressing and what I am producing. By applying a mindful awareness to my malcontent, I can breathe my way through and often find that the pattern is clearer and evolves into something I just hadn't seen, expected, or been aware of. I frequently surprise myself with an entirely different perception when I stand back and look at my creation differently.
Sometimes I may be dissatisfied by the outcome and yet others think it's wonderful....sometimes I may think what I've created is wonderful and others aren't particularly impressed.
Where the drive for me in creating mandalas does not lie in what others think of the result, it can be useful to acknowledge that the interpretation, perception or appraisal of any creation (or action) can vary; what I may think is not necessarily what others do- what I see is not necessarily what others see.
So many details determine the outcome of the creation of my mandala. Material, tools, environment, attitude, state of mind, my physicality etc.
Many things contribute to the end result; the outcome.
Many I am responsible for and some I have no control over.
I am responsible for and have agency over the Mandala I create and yet I am merely a vessel for the Universe experiencing itself through my own individual expression of creativity.
When all parts of the creation of the Mandala are considered, when I let go into the process of doing- not-doing, with-holding judgement and with-drawing my projections; that is when the beauty and the purpose of my Mandala becomes apparent to me.
I am then free to enjoy the journey- irrespective of the outcome.