Earlier I wrote about the dimensions of wellness and decided to see what areas in my life were being overlooked. I noticed I had been negligent in a couple of areas, one of which was Spirituality. To express my spirituality or to feel a closer connection to the divine, my preference is to take a quiet walk in the woods. Nothing but the sound of my breathing and the tramping of my footfalls to interrupt the symphony of nature around me. Nature is my house of worship.
Unfortunately the weather this winter has been rather cold and unpredictable. As I age I have come to appreciate and focus on the activities I enjoy and avoid if-at-all-possible those activities in which I take no pleasure. I am perfectly capable of layering up and heading out for a walk in the woods, but in the cold I do not find it enjoyable. So, I needed to find another way to “commune.”
During my years of searching for a religion that fits my personal spirituality, I attended quite a few spiritual retreats of various faiths. The most enjoyable retreats regardless of orientation ended with some form of artistic expression. I have never had the skill to draw or paint to my satisfaction (thus not enjoyable) but I really enjoyed drawing mandalas. Carl Jung felt the mandala was a symbol of the self and a balance between the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. I agree and would add that for me, it is an expression of my spirituality.
When I sit down to draw a mandala, I try not to have an image already in mind. This is good because (1) I couldn’t draw it anyway; and (2) it is better to approach the drawing in as open a manner as possible. As I work through the drawing there are times when clear images emerge and a creative spark ignites and I flow with it. Other times the mandala turns out to be more abstract in nature and because of the general form of the mandala, it can be turned 90 or 180 degrees to reveal hidden images.
Creating the mandala is interesting to pay attention to because some of the decisions are worth reflecting on. My first choice is usually to determine what medium. Colored pencil, soft pastels, oil pastels, something else or a combination. Do I stay within the circular line or do I add something beyond it? What colors do I choose to use? Is the picture something indicative of my day? How I’m feeling presently? A message about the future?
My medium of choice is the oil pastel crayons. There is a faint smell but not strong and the variety of colors are pleasing to the eye. The size fits nice in my hand and the act of coloring releases a little bit of that inner child who remembers snapshots of memories of childhood. I can then put the device away and start blending/smearing the colors with my fingers. At this point several of my senses are engaged in the process. Working on the mandala with my fingers adds to the feeling sensation.
About this time as I continue working on the mandala I begin to realize a feeling of being lost. I cannot think of another term to describe it. I do not mean the anxiety-provoking type of lost feeling where you may never return. This is more of a childhood lost feeling where you know you will be okay but are in unfamiliar territory. It is exhilarating and yet a bit frightening at the same time. This is usually when patterns or images begin to take form.
Perhaps I would feel different if I were more artistically gifted and could generate an image on command but the feeling I get when something emerges from my own creativity is…spiritual.