A friend of mine is in training to be a Mandala facilitator. She held a class at our church on Saturday night, so I signed up. I was curious about Mandalas and plus, she mentioned that "no art skills" were required. I clearly have no artsy-fartsy skills, so I decided to give it a go. Before the class, Jean asked the participants to think about something they want to let go of or something on which they want clarity.

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 . . .


Jean Wentz said…
Your mandala is beautiful! Clearly you cannot get past the "let go of judgment" part of the mandala experience. It sounds like your experience was exactly what you needed right then. Love what came through for you! And if you figure out how to get beyond the anxiety please bottle it and share. Thanks for taking part - - it was an honor ro facilitate!
Jean Wentz said…
Your mandala is beautiful and I love the message you interpretted from it. You clearly have not gotten quite to the "no judgment" stage yet, but I'm glad to see you posting your mandala here! (Why wouldn't you let me take a picture of it?!?!?) I'm glad you participated and seem to have gotten something out of the class. It was an honor to facilitate. :-)
The Lovely One said…
I think your mandala is awesome!

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