My Perfectly Imperfect Life- The new blog title.

My Perfectly Imperfect Life- The new blog title.

I have been silent for a while. While I’m still drawing Mandalas, I’m not doing it with the same regularity or commitment and for now, I feel that this is the right way for me. In the last few years, I have been experimenting with different tools and practices to manage my Generalised Anxiety Disorder without medication so that I do not end up, as happened twice in the past in a Depression diagnosis, and I think I am managing quite well considering that is more than four years since I have taken the last medication. What I learned so far is that there is no perfect solution that will fit everybody and will work all the time even for the same person because not only we are all unique, we, ourselves, also change and what used to work for us might not work anymore and we, almost continuously, need to re-assess and re-evaluate our own balance and our own support systems.

Drawing Mandala for a while it was a good self-reflection tool, but when the drawing itself became the focus instead of being a tool, I had to take a step back. It is very easy to forget the real intention behind our action and become distracted and confuse a tool for a purpose.

In the last weeks instead I have been working with the Artist’s way book by Julia Cameron and I started the practice of the daily morning pages (3 pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness morning writing) and even though I feel some resistance every morning, I am still doing it every morning and feeling the benefit of doing it.  More recently, I have added at the start a short 10 Minutes meditation that includes both short breathing and bodyscan meditation. While I cannot share my morning pages on this page as I used to do for the Mandala, as they are private, I want to share the benefit they have brought me so far, in particular, a feeling of joy in seeing that when I do something that resonates with my deeper self and with my way of being I can be disciplined enough to sacrifice something and I can conquer any resistance in order to do it. I think that when we struggle too much to implement a new routine that we think it would be beneficial for us, it might because we are trying to implement something that does not really fit our way of being, we need to experiment and find the solution that is suitable for us.

And here there is my last perfectly imperfect Mandala. It does not need to be even close to  be perfect. My own life and I are like we are supposed to be: perfectly imperfect.

 

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Forty-Seventh Mandala – Universal Particulars Mandala

Forty-Seventh Mandala – Universal Particulars Mandala

From a series of small details is built a big picture, from the picture I understand the idea, in general, but then I go back to notice the single small details that create the big picture. The big picture gives me a key to open a door on the comprehension of my reality, but then the details are the ones that give me the deep flavor and richness of that reality. It is a continuous journey from universal to particulars and from particulars to universal. It is a balancing act between focusing on myself, and my own limited experience of the world and the world outside me. The details disconnected from each other do not create a picture, they cannot be understood, but connected with each other they become something different and they can become visible and clear.

Mindfulness is teaching me patience and to look at the details of my surroundings, and looking at the details, is opening my mind to possibilities I could not even imagine before. Drawing Mandalas was not something I could imagine doing. It all starts with a small line draw on a page, with a word, with a step to a direction unknown, if we have the patience to wait until the big  picture is revealed.

Loving-kindness is allowing me to engage this drawing/reflecting journey as it is teaching me to be kind and compassionate with myself as I’m a beginner as all beginners, my efforts are very often clumsy and far from being perfect.

“I believe that the big picture is somehow shaped by how we live the details, the little pictures that run through our lives.” (The Dance – Oriah Mountain Dreamer)

“Concepts always remain universal, and so do not reach down to the particular, yet, it is precisely the particular, that hast to be dealt with in life.” (Schopenhauer as quoted in the Art of Reflection by Ratnaguna).

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Thirty-Third Mandala – The Rainbow Mandala

Thirty-Third Mandala – The Rainbow Mandala

Meditating with a six-years-old can be tricky, it is a juggling game between letting go of the desire to do it right and join the fun when she wants to have some hearty laughs and trying to bring back then some focus on some simple deep breathing and visualisation. We don’t spend much time reading and “meditating” in bed before her sleep and it appears only a simple and ordinary activity but it brings infinite magic and wonder to my daily routine. I remind of something I read recently in a book – Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan –  about “finding ordinary mind… how subtle and ordinary Haiku really was – and that because it is so ordinary it seems extraordinary.” Meditating with my daughter feels the same subtle and ordinary and eventually very much extraordinary.

Recently we were trying to practice a Meditation called the “Rainbow meditation” from the book “Buddha at bedtime” and that meditation, my daughter laughs and appreciation for the colours and for the idea of being filled with happiness, love, friendship, peace and gentleness inspired my last Mandala.

“Take a breath in… and out, and feel your body relax.

Picture yourself surrounded by red light. Imagine breathing in the red light, and it filling you with energy.

Now see yourself surrounded by orange light. Imagine breathing in the orange light, and it filling you with strength.

Next, visualise yourself surrounded by yellow light. Imagine breathing in the yellow light, and it filling you with happiness.

Then, picture yourself surrounded by green light. Imagine breathing in the green light, and it filling you with friendship.  – Here my daughter was very excited about being filled with friendship. –

Now see yourself surrounded by blue light. Imagine breathing in the blue light, and it filling you with peace.

Next picture yourself surround by Indigo light, breathing indigo light, and it filling you with gentleness. – Here we both had some doubts about what colour was indigo, but we both loved being filled with gentleness. –

Now, visualise yourself surrounded by violet light. Imagine breathing in the violet light, and it filling you with love.  – Obviously being romantic, in the most encompassing way, souls, we both loved this last part about love. –

Finally imagine a bright rainbow carrying all this energy, strength, happiness, friendship, peace, gentleness and love from your heart, into your home, your street, your town, your country… the whole world. Slowly the rainbow fade…” – From Buddha at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja.

These are the two books that inspired me

 

and this is my Rainbow Mandala

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This idea of the ordinary life also inspired some walking writing meditation, that brings my attention to the little corner of the world where I am so lucky to live and to notice things which are at once ordinary and magnificent:

Thick solid grey clouds

Rays of light red and yellow filter through

Like a sign of God’s presence

 

Wonders of Nature

In a little green leave now red on the ground

In the sweet yawn of kitten half asleep in a bed of sun

In the joyful singing of many birds hidden safely in the branches of the trees

The vast blue sky, then almost black and sparkling with the light of countless little stars

A transparent white moon still high in the vast sky in the morning

All ordinary simple free gifts unnoticed too easily.

 

Of the miracles of our everyday life around us

How little we notice and know.

We are outsiders.

We are strangers to our world

inside us and outside us.

We take too much for granted and

We forget to be grateful for our innumerable blessings that

we notice only when we lose them.

Our life revolution is to notice and to appreciate the subtle wonders of everyday life.

Twenty-seventh Mandala – A Borderline Undefined Mandala

Twenty-seventh Mandala – A Borderline Undefined Mandala

A Borderline undefined Mandala.

It is a different Mandala or maybe not. I’m not sure if it is different in a good way or not, but in this journey I’m trying to accept all of them, to bring all of them to the light: the ones I love, the ones I feel connected with, the ones that I understand and the ones I’m not sure I fully understand or that leave me a bit perplexed or unsure.

I’m sharing all because this is a journey where every effort count, every step even the smallest one has a significance in creating my big picture because all my “successes” contain the myriad of small failures and hard work before them.

In this Mandala, like in this journey of self-discovery and self-coaching that I’m journaling through Mandalas, there are different at times contrasting patterns, different stages connected and at times opposing or hiding from each other.

Like this journey sometimes it seems I have a clear sense of direction, an empowering vision of the arrival line, other times out of the blue I find myself lost as if around me a scary forest populated by imaginary unknown beastly threats has appeared, sometimes it feels like I’m expanding beyond my usual self and a deepening reaching the most secret part of yourself. It is a continuous flow like in a river at some points almost calm and shallow in other becomes agitated deep but always moving. And around these continuous flowing of ideas and changes, some very small others more important, walls are starting to crumble. Some walls are still quite high and strongly in place, but the small changes that I’m in my life are starting to bring them down and the lights are starting to filtrate and bring luminous sparks in what used to feel like a very dark night, the dark blue almost black of the sky is fading into lighter tones of blues.

 

 

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Twenty-first Mandala – A daring Mandala

A daring Mandala: a glimpse beyond my usual territories, playing carelessly with new tools and bolder colours.

“Life Energy,

Beauty and Thorns,

Perfect symmetries and asymmetrical imperfections,

Through thick layers the light still softly shines for ever daring.”

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I’m working on this personal life coaching project using the Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer for guidance, as a map to navigate ab uncharted territory.

As first step I’m working with a beautifully challenging question that I’m using for reflection on my life and on the direction I will eventually decide to follow. The question is: “What I Ache For?”.

I have been playing with this question for few days, in my notes, in my mandalas and also plainly in my ordinary thinking. – I love asking myself questions more than trying to answer them. –

The first answers that came to mind are that I long for connection, intimacy with my life and the people and the world around me, for engagement and commitment, for challenges that bring me to be a positive and an active part of the community, to help others and, at the same time, sometimes I fiercely long for solitude, for anonymity and nothingness. These two opposite longings are keeping me stuck where I am and I think I need to investigate them farther, to look for the one that is real true for me before I try to get into the details of how I can translate any of them in practical day to day living.

When we start asking ourselves certain questions, it is important to continue asking, to go deeper. If we stop at the first answer, we take the risk to stay on the surface and we might never uncover the deep honest motivation that could really give us strengths and conviction to make the radical changes in our life we might need to do. In this process of deepening investigation, other beautifully simple but powerful questions can be “What else?”, “What will it gives me?”.

Recently, the suggestion to bring to my mind somebody that loves or loved me unconditionally  in a guided meditation (Heartscape- Lovingkindess – Guided Mindfulness Meditation, Series 3 – Jon Kabat-Zinn) opened up my mind to a series of questions and reflections that gave some direction to the self-investigation I was doing about my deepest longing. I started asking myself first who could be these persons and then why I found so difficult to pick somebody that I believed loves or loved me unconditionally. I used the word believed because, while, rationally, I think I have and I had people in my life that loves and loved me unconditionally , the big issue for me lies in my beliefs or lack of faith that I would be worthy of such type of love. I started wonder if this fear of being discovered not worthy of love then be at the foundation of my longing for solitude, anonymity and nothingness? If one of my longing is born out of fear, is it then an honest and true longing?

Then I started asking myself new more complicated questions like:

What would happen in my life if I dare to have faith that I can be loved, if I dare to have faith that I am loved and accepted as I am right now?

Can I let, or better, make myself be vulnerable and take the risk to deeply connect with the people in my life? To fully have faith in them knowing that our relationship will change, that I will lose them as I know them now, because life is impermanent and nothing stand still forever and change is inevitable?

Do I dare to have faith in myself to be courageous and open my heart and my life to joy and the suffering that will come from losing someday who I fully allowed in my heart and life?

And if I don’t take the risk of being fully committed and have faith, knowing that it is a risk that will eventually become a reality, does all the work I’m doing on myself to be a better me like coaching, meditation, drawing, writing make any sense? Or would all just become another more colourful and complicated attempt to numb, distract and to not feel?

If I don’t choose the path of courage, vulnerability and the pain that will come with them, what hope do I have that meditation can heal my deepest subtle anxieties and the depression that always shows up eventually? What hope do I have to experience and know real happiness?

And finally, does living a half-life controlled by fear and anxiety really protect me from suffering? Or would it only mean that I choose suffering without experiencing real deep positive emotions because it is impossible to lose something you never had from the start?

It is very uncomfortable and emotional experience to question one’s deepest beliefs and convictions. I started to experience lots of resistance from the part of me that is very comfortable within the familiarity of my old but tight and thick walls, even if these walls are causing me incredible suffering at times. Doubts are strong. I started to experience emotional turmoil, because nobody can tell me for sure what are the right decisions or directions, because it is an unchartered path and there are no instructions or certainties and because nobody can reassure me that is not my anxiety or my “tricky” mind talking and bringing me towards a breakdown instead of a meaningful path.

I am continuing my exploration, once we start certain adventures there is now way back, we can only continue to create our life with each single efforts, which is our most creative actions because nobody else can understand, live it or shape our life for us. I found this quote some time ago and I find it very inspiring: “I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.” – Muriel Strode

The Invitation Mandala is in the early phase, there is still so much to uncover.

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