Lately, I have been struggling with a lot of anxiety and a little bit of anger. Well, the anxiety is nothing new. That's been a life-long issue. In fact, before the class, my thoughts were like this: "How long will the class take? Will it end on time? Will the house be a wreck when I get home? Will my husband remember to tell the kid to put her headgear on? What should I wear to church tomorrow? Do I need to iron something? The class is $25 - should I bring cash or should I write a check?"
When I got to the class, I sat down and suddenly thought: "It's Saturday night. You have nowhere you need to be. Knock it off." I really tried not to look at the clock and just to focus on the class. Jean started by telling us about the history of the Mandala. I was at least loosely familiar with the concept. When I still lived in the DC area, I loved to go to the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival on the National Mall every summer and have gone back a few times even after moving away (side note: if you ever go to the festival, just be prepared for searing, unholy heat - I have never once attended the festival and not felt like I would pay any price just to lick an ice cube). Typically, the festival highlights one U.S. state and a few different countries. One summer, I watched as a group of Buddhist monks created a Mandala out of colored sand. To this day, I still think it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. When they are done, they just blow the sand away (because nothing is permanent). Check out a sample photo of a Mandala here.
After the introduction, Jean led us through a guided meditation and explained the supplies we had in front of us: black paper, colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, etc. We were then supposed to work in silence for 45 minutes or so. We had each drawn a different "inquiry card" that was meant to help us come up with some symbols and such. My card said, "What is the next step?" (or maybe it was plural - I can't remember).
I started drawing. I also started sharpening the bejeebers out of my pencils and managed to break two of them. I mean, I snapped them off inside the pencil sharpener. Then I started knocking the sharpener against the table to see if I could dislodge the tips that were stuck in there (apparently I'm not too good at the "observe silence" thing). If I ever take another Mandala class from Jean, I'm pretty sure I will be told to bring my own pencils. When it came to drawing, I was stumped from the start. There were stencils stacked on a table nearby, so I wandered over there a few times to see what I could use. I started by making a circle in the middle of the larger circle. Later, I realized that it was not even close to being in the center. I wanted to use a few symbols: water (for both tears and bodies of water), stars, and crescents that represent smiles or frowns.
I should really color more often - I mean, sit down and just color. It did feel sort of therapeutic. I gave myself permission just to be there and not to worry about anything else. I felt tears behind my eyes as I reflected on the good things and the bad things in my life. Did I get any clarity on the issues that are currently plaguing me? I don't really think so, but I think I'd consider taking another class and trying again. Earlier in the day, I was expecting a call that never came, so I was a bit distracted and disappointed by the time I arrived at church for the class.
Fixing my anxiety . . . well, I just don't think it can be done. So, it would be a lot to expect a major change in a two-hour class. I just tried to focus on accepting what I cannot fix. I need to try to move on. In the past year, I've lost two close friends and a family member. Not to death, of course - they're all still alive. They just don't want anything to do with me, and that's painful. I can't help but think . . . what's so awful about me that I had to get the boot, you know? The Mandala didn't tell me.
I've always been a little bit suspicious of self-reflection, so I had to let go of that a little bit. I think there's a fine line between self-reflection and self-absorption. You know how everyone has that one friend on Facebook who posts only about him/herself? That. I shy away from self-help books. I remember feeling so annoyed when Oprah came out with all of her "Remembering Your Spirit" segments on her show. I think I just felt like . . . get out and DO something. BE the change . . . enough talking, you know?
So, what is the next step? The question I was supposed to answer? Just let go, I guess. Focus on the good stuff. Get past the feelings of rejection and abandonment. After all, I have a kid to raise here and she still thinks I'm awesome (until she's a teenager, anyway).
|"No art skills required." It looks like I drew this with my foot. |
However, you are not supposed to get attached to a Mandala so . . .