Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Mandala- The Flower of Life Mandala and the Life Mosaic Mandala

Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Mandala- The Flower of Life Mandala and the Life Mosaic Mandala

 

 

 

From Seed of Life to a blown Flower of life.

From small parts without apparent meaning or purpose to a Mosaic of Life.

From apparent chaos to a Cosmo. From anxiety and uncertainty to meaning and ease.

From anxiety and uncertainty to meaning and ease.

From obsessive self-judgement and self-destructive thinking to count the blessings in the ordinary everyday life.

From rigidity, hopelessness and helplessness to, even if still timid, rekindled faith in life and in the possibility to change.

 

 

 

“Life is not really a series of unanchored, chaotic events. Rather, it is like a mosaic; it has a pattern. Each experience has some part in creating the whole. We can see harmony in the big picture.” (Lovingkindness – Sharon Salzberg)

 

 

 

“Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,

A cool breeze in summer, snow in winter –

if your mind is not clouded by unnecessary things,

this is the best season of your life.” (Chinese poem quoted in Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg).

“the purpose of the artist is to create a cosmo in the chaos of this world” (“Walking on water of Madeleine L’Engle quoted in “A selfish plan to change the world” – Justin Dillon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20170606_122929
Flower of Life

 

20170608_233936
Life Mosaic

 

 

 

 

Forty-fifth Mandala – Unicorn Tears Tea Mandala

Forty-fifth Mandala – Unicorn Tears Tea Mandala

I am drinking a Unicorn Tears tea and I wonder what if it really contains Unicorn tears? Would it contain any magic? If I can let go of the need to think that anything, I do or believe, should make sense, have an explanation or being scientifically proved and, just for this moment with this cup of Unicorn tears tea, I allow myself to believe in what might appear unreasonable but enchantingly magic, what could I believe?

Some time ago, I lost  my faith, the faith I inherited from my family and the community I grew up, and now, I realised that I approached life and all different therapies and supports systems, both traditional and not, without a full commitment because deep down I didn’t have real faith that anything could really work, that there was no solution for my internal conflicts and core unhappiness. Now I wonder if I can have a new stronger Faith, one that I discover through the long and hard journey of self-discovery instead of an unquestioned gift from above or from others?

I believe that we are so small in this Universe and our knowledge is so limited that there is no reason why I could not believe in anything I choose because I believe that nothing can be proved to exist or to not exist beyond any doubts and if nothing can be proved beyond any doubts why should I limit myself? So for now,  when I still have a full spectrum of opportunities in front of me and a cup of Unicorn Tears tea, I allow myself to believe in Fairies that live behind little doors in my back garden,  that Unicorns run wildly and freely but hidden in the same woods I visit, that stones and crystals have healing powers, that animals not only can feel as I feel but could talk to me if they only wanted, that trees have wisdom beyond any old sages of all times, that mysterious potions of herbs and flowers can bring love and passion, that sounds and music, but mostly the human mind have the power to hypnotise and heal….

20170409_204413

Some of these reflections were inspired by the Unicorn tears tea I drunk at the cafe’ bookshop “Book Upstairs” and by the book that I’m reading and I’m working with that is “Inner Work” by Robert A. Johnson.

“...we know that, although we seem to be individuals, we are actually plural beings. Each of us has a great multitude of distinct personalities coexisting within one body, sharing one psyche. We also know that the human mind experiences the world as a duality: we divide the world and own selves into darkness and light… and we stand eternally in judgement, siding first with one side, then with the other but rarely we take the terrible task of integrating all this into a whole. It takes courage to go to the bad side of ourselves, to acknowledge it as part of ourselves, to consider that it could have a constructive role to play in our lives. It takes courage to look directly at the fragmentation of our desires and urges. Sometimes these conflicts seem irreconcilable, and we feel torn apart in the conflicts of desires, duties, and obligations that we feel. … We could not find the courage to face up the terrible division in us unless we felt instinctively that the conflicts must eventually resolve, the warring parts come together in peace, the fragmentation finally reveal a deeper reality, an underlying fundamental unity and meaning in life. … there is only one Source, one beginning, one unity out of which all the multiplicity of this life flows, and to which it returns.” (Inner Works page 36-37)

Thirty- second Mandala – Incomplete Mandala

Thirty- second Mandala – Incomplete Mandala

Sometimes I feel as if I can see clearly the path in front of me, sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes there is no vision and no idea of what should be the next step, the next colour, the next pattern to add.

Sometimes, even though I dream that one day I will do something very special, I accept and live with my more than imperfect efforts and creations.

Sometimes I feel like I have met a wall on my path and I’m tempting to judge myself harshly and simply stop and hide, but I still want to honour the commitment I made with myself even if it is hard, scary and might seem a useless effort.

For this reasons, I feel that leaving this Mandala incomplete, for now, is the right way to represent my emotions, my thoughts and my vision in this right moment. But also because this is also a What If Mandala. What if, the right way, is this unclear, imperfect and unfinished way? What if, something, sometimes, does not need to be completed or special? What if, stopping where I am, without forcing myself to find a way forward, is the right thing for me now? What if life, as it is now, is perfect as it is? What if this is the moment to sit still with the openness I can experience when I have not yet put the final stroke on a Mandala or the final dot on my writing?

One part of this Mandala is complete, it shows two movements: one inward of deepening towards the core, it is the journey of self-discovery that is a life-long journey, one outward is an expansive movement, it is the journey of connection with the Universe I live in and that is alive in me.

The second section is complete but not coloured yet, it represents pieces that I can visualize but are still vague.

Finally, there is the last section that is only drafted in pencil that is still very fluid, barely visible, representing the still very fluid and blurred essence of my overall vision of my path.

So, leaving this Mandala incomplete is not a failure for me, but

It is an act of acceptance of my imperfections and flaws and of the moment as it is with its uncertainties and few achieved understandings,

It is an act of openness to all the possibilities that are not yet clear to me but I have faith that they are and will be available to me if I have the courage to let myself being open,

It is an act of patience, to pause and sit still, even if all in me tell me to move and to find a way, and to wait for the right time for completing it, for understanding a clearer picture before acting and trying to move forward,

It is an act of kindness and of taking care of myself, to hold on, but lightly, to what I think is important so that I can let go what I need to let go and

Finally, it is a small act of courage to let my words and my drawing out in their incompleteness and imperfections against my own internal judging voice.

Recently, I read something about patience which I found quite inspiring and clear for me, here are few lines I extracted from the book “Practicing Peace in Times of War” by Pema Chödrön

“… patience means just slowing down … -just pausing – instead of immediately acting on your usual, habitual response. You are not suppressing anything, patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself… Developing patience and fearlessness means learning to sit still with the edginess of the discomforting energy… When we stick with this process we learn something very interesting: there is no resolution for these uncomfortable feelings… There is a basic ignorance about the  truth of impermanence, the truth of the fleeting groundless nature of all things… We discover that joy and happiness, a sense of inner peace, a sense of harmony and being home with yourself and your world come from sitting still with the moodiness of the energy until it rises, dwells, and passes away… ”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/136981.Practicing_Peace_in_Times_of_War

20161018_135253.jpg

 

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.

 

 

27-mandala

 

My self-coaching journey – second session

Almost a month ago I started this self-coaching journey, I am in a phase of my life where I feel I need to re-valuate and re-consider the direction I’ve been taking with my life and this type of journey is far from being easy or straightforward and these first steps are taking longer than I expected  landing me temporarily in an even more confused situation than before without a clear sense of my direction and with doubts appearing along the way about what I am doing and its relevance for my ultimate goal of living a meaningful and happier life.

The possible self-coaching process I envisioned for this personal journey was going to go through an ideal set of steps: during the first session, I was going to assess my current situation “my here and now” using the “Wheel of Life” with the underlying vague sense of my ultimate goal as a compass for the process during this preliminary phase, then in time for my second self-coaching session I planned to have investigated the values, beliefs and aspirations (needs, wants and wishes) which are the foundations, the borders and the background of my life and for my goal. By the third session, possibly by the end of the second month of this journey,  I thought I would have defined an action plan, following the clarification of my Goal possibly using a SMART approach during the second session, which would have implied an in-depth revision of the Specific goal (who would have been involved, what I wanted to accomplish, where it would have taken place, why I was doing it, what would have been the constraints/requirements that needed to be considered), the necessary Measures of my progress and ultimately my success, its practical Achievability and its Relevance or its being Realistic  in relation to my needs and my personal situation, the Timeframe within which I could have realistically achieved my goal. Along the way, I thought I would take time to assess my level of success to make adjustments where necessary and, if necessary, considered some support systems to use in the moments of doubts or difficulties that I could have used also after the coaching process was completed. I also expected that I needed to do lot of work in between session to be able to progress to the next stage.

In reality, I reached my second session without having fully completed the homework I had give myself and with still quite  a confused picture so not ready to work on the specific aspects of my Goal.  This does not mean that the self-coaching process is or would not be effective, but it only highlight a need for continuous adjustments to fit the reality of life. I believe that this process is effective because it provides practical tools and directions instead of generic guidelines or principles, but that is also effective only as long as I trust the process and myself, I am fully honest with myself about what I want to achieve and the commitments I can realistically make and I am really engaged.  In fact, I believe that the effectiveness of any process to change my life will depend on me, not on my coaches, therapists, mentors or even doctors, because there is not perfect solution that can fit everybody’s life and condition and nobody else other than me can have the solutions for my life or hold the Truth about my own life.

This  self-coaching process is far from being  an easy quick fix  and at time, it can even feel awkward, confusing and hard because it might make us face situations that needs healing. I see  any coaching process as a healing process, because I believe that if we feel that we need to change something in our life it is because something in our life is not in harmony with our deeper self needs and values. On the surface, it might look like that we “simply” feel stuck, mildly dissatisfied or demotivated at work or in our personal life but these feelings very often are the symptoms that something deeper is not ok for us and needs to be brought out in the light and healed.

During the last weeks I have been working on my values along with the beliefs that are holding me back from living the life I desire, investigating what is missing from my life, what I need, what I want and what I desire and especially the false desires, wants and wishes that do not really belong to me but to convictions and ideas I inherited and made mine but only on the surface from my family, my education, the society. I started questioning the nature of the subtle fear that clouds and have clouded many of my choices and prevented me from taking the risk to live the life I desire. This investigation is not a one time reflection, I sat several times reflecting on all this, but more importantly I left my heart and mind open to reflect on this anytime that something inspired me some further, deeper reflections. I sat for sometime with all the questions that emerged as a result of these reflections without even trying to answer them for a while, but simply making them to myself and let them lead my thoughts to possible new avenues that I had not even know before. It is a long process and it is far from being completed, I will continue for a little while longer to work on this investigation before I proceed to the next phase of this journey, but during this period, I realised some important things for me:

– That there is no magic or simple solution for me in the near future, but I don’t need to despair because it is ok to take the time I need, because nothing of what I’ve been learning and did in the past is either wasted or useless but it is what has brought me here to this point of my life and even if some of the practice I’m doing might feel ineffective or confuse me, everything will become clear eventually, when the time is correct.

– That this is a life journey, that happiness needs our constant presence and awareness about who we are, where we are going and what we want so that  we are ready for the changes that happens all the time in life;

– That I need to take the time to re-learn about my priorities, what is really important for me and the reasons behind my choices and even challenge some perceptions I have about myself and my level of unhappiness;

– That even though the big solution is not possible in the next months there are actions and projects I can put in place that not only can bring me closer to my big goal but can also make the present life happier and more fulfilling, because while being able to have project for the future is fundamental, living our best possible present with what we have right now is as fundamental and might be the only thing we have.;

– That is ok to take it slow and enjoy the life and the world around me while I move forward, that I don’t need to rush anywhere or into anything because in reality nothing counts more than this moment I’m living now so I need to trust that whatever the next moment will bring while I cannot control it I can manage it as I did in the past;

– That if I before doing something I ask myself the question “what would I do in this situation if others’ opinion did not exist”, I can in those moments maybe behave differently and more freely from what I did in the past, letting the fear of others’ opinion cloud my ability to choose the best path for myself and stopping me from enjoying simple pleasures.

So my next step is to continue to work on the big picture, keeping my mind and heart open to the inspiration that can emerge from my life and the practices that are now part of my life:

– Meditating and journaling almost daily to manage my feelings and thoughts

– Drawing mandalas and continue to publish one drawing and a post at least once a week,

– Have a weekly virtual meeting with myself to assess my progress and define possible action to continue to move forward.

– Have another self-coaching session in a month time.

While this might look like a big list, in reality it requires approximately less than one hour a day for the daily task and possibly another hour a day to complete the other weekly tasks and  that is a realistic commitment for the next month.

Twenty-second Mandala – A black and White Mandala

Twenty-second Mandala – A black and White Mandala

 

Black and white demands courage and a certain degree of self-confidence.

It demands trust in my still beginner’s ability to draw confident lines, to connect the dots without too much arrogance or too timidly with control and concentration.

It demands trust that I can choose the right lines, to draw the right shapes that combined together create a harmonious picture, that I can create the right balance of blackness and whiteness that the picture does not feel empty, but that I can stop in time with the marker that the shapes are not lost in a single black circle.

It demands trust that I can use the right line, the right depth, because not all mistakes and uncertainties can be easily covered by a change of design or direction or by a simple eraser.

Black and white demands courage to let myself go with the flow and trust my intuition and my shaky and beginner hand to find the right balance, trust my awareness to recognise the right time to stop or to continue with my marker.

After few months of this Mandala project, I realise that my lines are now more confident, the patterns are becoming in some way richer and as it happens with other creative activities, the more I practice them the more ideas and image come to me of what I could do.

A creative process requires the courage to be in front of an empty page and believe that I can create something to fill that the page with words or lines, to be in front of a handful of small crystals and trust that I can create a harmonious combination with all those small separate parts and in this way give life to something that was not there before not even in my own mind.

Like with this Mandala, very rarely I know where I’m heading when I start drawing and  even when I have a preliminary idea the final picture is always a surprise full of ideas to reflect on.

Mandala - 22 - A Black and White Mandala

What I am learning thanks to this project but also from various courses I’ve been attending in life coaching, mindfulness and Buddhism is that as I can cultivate my awareness and my lovingkindness, I can cultivate my Faith and my Creativity and therefore that some limits that I believed as given and impossible for me to surpass in reality they can be surpassed with practice and an open-mind. That, yes that there is lots of people that is born with very special talents above everybody else, but even if I was not born with any special talent or passion, I can still choose to cultivate my own set of gifts and regardless if I can become at any stage a recognised writers or artist or earn any sort of income from my efforts, continuing to cultivate these gifts has a worth in itself completely separated from any utilitarianism concept, it is part of my path and it has nothing to do with gaining any success but  with my realisation of my potential as a person. For this reason, I will keep drawing these mandalas regardless if anybody else likes them or if they look like a mediocre attempt of a beginner, I will keep writing my thoughts regardless if anybody likes or shares them or if they are grammatically incorrect or sound silly, because these practices are feeding a need inside me for creating something and they are my way in this phase of my life to embrace my vulnerability and to risk “looking like a fool for the adventure of being alive”,

 

“I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.” (From the Invitation of Oriah Mountain Dreamer)

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.”

Mandala - 21

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.

The Invitation - Mandala