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-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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flower of Life

 

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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….

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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

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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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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)