Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Finding silence

Trying to get in touch with my inner silence is very challenging and quite honestly it's not working at all. I find myself sitting with the five minute timer on and I'm having to drag my thoughts back to silence. I think about everything including my shopping list; I can't seem to turn off the noise in my head. I am the kind of person who needs a prop; I am a very visual person who needs a stimulus even for turning off my motor.

I have a blog pal, soulbrush, who loves mandalas. In truth I never considered the value or purpose of a mandala until I met soulbrush on the web. With me it's pouts that grab my interest. I think pouts can be very beautiful; one only has to look at someone like Angelina Jolie or Mona Lisa for proof of that. Because I love pouts so much I find myself looking at every photograph, every statue, every cloud, and I see pouts. I know another person who sees hearts everywhere; in foot prints, in trees, even in food.

Do you have something you see all of the time in the ordinary?

Since finding out that soulbrush loves mandalas, I see mandalas all over the place. This felt like serendipity to me and it led me to research mandalas and I was so intrigued that I decided to share it here.

Upon reading further I found out that mandalas are used in rituals such as meditation. Now we're getting somewhere. This led me to research how mandalas are used in meditation since that is the ritual I am interested in because I am hoping it might help me find a way to get in touch with my inner silence.

I have seen lots of our churches with round stained glass windows called "rose windows" that always grabbed my attention, and now I think of mandalas when I see them. A very famous rose window was created by Henri Matisse, the great French modernist painter, for the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, New York, shown in the photograph above.

I began hoping that somehow this will help me in my dream weaving.

Then while wandering through a bookstore this past Sunday evening I saw a mandala kit called Serenity with Mandalas. It comes with 25 pre-printed mandalas and a set of colored pencils and it cost only $10. I decided to buy it thinking that I like to color anyway and it might reduce my stress at the least. Although I cannot recommend the kit due to the fact that I had to press way too hard to get any color out of the colored pencils, I did experience some satisfaction with choosing which colors to use and the focus it took to complete the entire mandala. I plan to buy some fine tip colored markers to use with my 24 remaining mandalas rather than using the colored pencils.

The mandala kit came with a booklet with really good information explaining all about mandalas and I am sharing it here.

Source: Serenity with Mandalas by Adrienne Burke

The mandala is an ancient religious symbol found in many cultures. It is usually a complex, circular design, divided into four or eight parts. The design leads the eye around the circle, allowing the viewer to discover new areas, and it eventually draws the eye to the center.

Mandalas are said to have originated thousands of years ago, before the time of Christ. Some even say there were mandalas before civilization began. Early mandalas can be found in cave drawings and rock inscriptions created by our ancestors, as a reflection of spiritual energy.

The mandala is round: a circle is the best thing to describe it, I think, but from my reading a mandala does not have to be a circle. The word itself comes from the root word manda, which means essence. The suffix la can mean container. If we put the two meanings together we can come to the conclusion that mandalas are sources of, or containers of, spiritual or divine power.

Mandalas traditionally have been used in concentration and meditation practice. The individual first creates the design of the mandala, which can incorporate pictures of deities and story lines, as well as various shapes, symbols, and colors. Through this process the mind becomes so focused that it turns off its normal chatter. The individual begins to merge the mind to the process, thus training it to be still. The conscious mind uses words to categorize and define our experiences. The unconscious mind deals in images and symbols, which give us various perceptions.

Mandalas are a powerful tool for meditation because the mind creates its strongest associations through imagery. The majority of the people in the world are visual in nature. They need to see something to relate to it. If you say or think of a flower, a person, or an event, an image will immediately arise in your mind. A mandala is intensely visual, energized with color and enlivened with design. Once pictured and absorbed into the mind, changes in your mental state occur to influence your emotions. Your perception is enhanced and a heightened state of awareness and insight can surface. What you feel is directly related to your state of being. The creation of a mandala helps to bring out the complexity of what is happening inside. The meditation enables you to perceive more clearly and helps you approach the ups and downs of daily life.


Snowbrush said...

Did you mean snowbrush, or did some s.o.b. steal the last part of my name?

Instead of going over your grocery list when you meditate, why not meditate on a mandala? Music can be good too. I mean there's no reason you HAVE to meditate in one certain way, is there?

I just thought of the hex signs that the PA Dutch placed on barns. That would be one type of mandala, I suppose, and maybe a uniquely American one.

Fireblossom said...

Pouty, you sneaky thing, a second blog!

I have a native American mandala in my living room which is quite beautiful, made from soft leather and feathers. Not a dreamcatcher, it is much larger, and different, from those.

I have always sought silence. I could probably live in the library or a forest preserve. Perhaps this is because my own head is so darn noisy, I have the devil's own time getting it to shut up. The only time my inner world really calms is under hypnosis, which i find magically refreshing.

Lilly's Life said...

I think music is wonderful but it has to be certina type of music. I love being near water and trees and in my mind I have an image that if I think of it, it immediately relaxes me. I have never seen this place but one day I hope to find it for real. Oh I woud like to do what Fireblossom does and go under hypnosis though. I really would.

marianne said...

Wonderful post on how you are starting with mandalas! I love this kit! But I can imagine they have put in cheap pencils, so great idea to but some good ones or fineliners for the remaining 24!
Is the green one on top your first attempt?
It looks great!
I wish you a lot a happy mandala creating, it is such a wonderful activity!

btw Happy Cactus Monday new cactuteer!

Shadow said...

oh do let know if it works. i have trouble finding silence too, lemme tell you. my inner voice is LOUD...