It could be said, that a Mandala is like a compass, a tool to help you navigate your mind. It has a square in the middle that has platforms to the north, south, east and west, and there are also points for north-west, south-west etc for when you need a mix of two focus points. For a Mandala to be personal to you, I think that each ‘bearing’ should symbolise something to you. Which way do you need to walk today? Perspective street? Your 4 sides can change with you as you grow, my current ones are listed below.
For more information on Mandalas, see my MANDALA post
The wisdom of the Calm app really helps me develop my self-reflection practice and my mindfulness meditation skills. I would say mindfulness for me has become a CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) tool to help me manage and even avoid the full onset of feelings of anxiety, frustration, panic and anger. These are a few of my favourites quotes from the daily calm sessions that relate to my 4 Mandala points:
“In any moment, we can find grounding in the breath”…. “There is so much we can learn from an exhale.” Tamara Levitt
I’ve always instinctively used breathing as a way to manage annoyance, stress and anxiety and bring me back to the present moment. It’s the advise I have been given and is the advice I now give, your breath can get you through anything. It can make you feel calmer, stronger, healthier, confident, connected and present. The more I practise pranayama regularly, the calmer, lighter and happier I seem to be. Just a few mindful controlled breaths through our nose can make a big difference. In an exhale you are letting go of what just happened and how you feeling and moving on. A sigh through the mouth is similar, but it is not mindful, it is reactionary. The majority of people take breathing for granted and settle for the limited version of our natural breathing. Since studying the breath/prana on my yoga course I have become very interested in its supporting power and the philosophy behind it, forming the first part of my mandala.
“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Rumi
The classic “think before speaking”. I have a tendency to talk too much, over explain, give too many details, not get to the point, and I have to keep myself in check when I feel I am expressing negative thoughts. “Respond not React” was something I learnt in management training, which is also very similar to learnings from therapy sessions. This mantra, “Respond not React”, helps me to keep my reactions in check and gives me a greater awareness of what and how I speak. It doesn’t always work as I instinctively rise to the bate when people are trying to push me. The trick is understanding why you said what you did and knowing it was a defensive reaction, rather than a simple calm response. The gate symbology in this Rumi quote helps give you a visualisation for the thought process, so this couples with the Mantra as the 2nd part of my Mandala.
“As we listen deeper to our bodies and elevate our health as a value in our lives, we walk the earth attuned, resilient and nourished.” Tamara Levitt
Both internally and externally, awareness can improve your health. I’ve amazingly become so in tune with my body, I know where I am in my cycle without counting, I feel stronger without eating meat, and I feel clearer, calmer and headache free without coffee and alcohol. When you can feel the chemical change of your hormones and the highs and lows of energy and mood so strongly, be it changed naturally or artificially you see very clearly how everything unbalances you much more than you thought. Many women today, struggle with ‘not knowing who they are’ and I believe they never really will while they are taking a hormonal contraception. There are many other options that thankfully are becoming much more popular now. A daily or regular meditation practice is also a key to developing a deeper awareness of yourself and your surroundings, as is self-analysis and making sure you always have time that ‘me-time’ to file and constructively pick through all the thoughts and feelings from the week. I also find, when I get angry or annoyed, rather than getting carried away, I ask myself, why I am angry? Most of the time the answer is not logical or is related to something you have no control over. Ask yourself again, and the anger fades when you can not justify your mood to yourself. This is my 3rd side, acknowledgement, awareness, and adjustment of mood.
“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” Steve Goodier
I always come back to this and balance, being that balance starts from being grounded. I only truly get the feeling of being grounded when I am outside, although everything above contributes and maintains it and you can use visualisation to help. Visualisation, for example, when doing a balancing yoga asana and you are struggling to find the centre of gravity, trying to imagine roots from the ground underneath the floor, coming up and wrapping around your ankle. When I do this, I can hold that pose a lot longer. Grounding leads to knowing yourself and trusting yourself and the universe. Feeling grounded and connected to your surroundings is that grass under your feet feeling, or that standing in the rain feeling or that watching the sun set into the ocean or behind mountains feeling. It is that deep breath of energising fresh mountain air, that takes you from your energy-save-setting up to full power! If I do not get enough of those feelings when I feel disconnected and unbalanced. So grounding forms the final part of my Mandala, mainly to give me more stability in decision making.
The interlocking sides of my Mandala: The breath grounds you and grounding deepens your breath; Good communication comes from managing a calm breath and developing awareness of those around you and yourself; Awareness and understanding of why you think and act and feel the way you do helps to develop grounding and by knowing yourself deeper you gain the ability to navigate through life with strength, resilience and peace. All 4 are interconnected. See THIS post on Instagram
A note to the Cover picture: In Mcleod Ganj, North India, there is a big push for more recycling and ethical garbage disposable. Mandalas can symbolise the universe and the connectivity of the circle of life. We all have been gifted both a body and a planet and the quality of the body relates to the quality of the planet. If we abuse the planet we, in turn, abuse our own body. Mother earth should be loved and respected, as we respect and love our own birth mothers. See THIS post on Instagram