For eons, it has been said that true education means to “draw out” knowledge not put it in. One might ponder, then, why, the world over, education systems require paid teachers to formally dispense what they “know”. Presumably, teachers know by learning from others who have learned, focused and experienced a particular type of student/audience. Experience may be the key to our best education. Years ago, in nursing school, we were told that those who know “do” and those who believe they know “teach”. Book knowledge versus experience is like trying to compare apples and oranges. Both are fruit however just recognizing an apple or an orange is incomplete without the experience of actually smelling, tasting and ingesting the fruit.
Experience is not really teachable. While opportunities for specific experiences such as a practicum in a professional arena can be made available, most would agree that effective teachers are actually facilitators of the meaningful experiential application of knowledge. Based on that premise, I, as a facilitator, would like to share a process that I have used many times to first lay a foundation of information then build upon it with individual experiences of “drawing out”. I learned this method from my mandala teacher, Suzanne Fincher, who wrote the classic book, Creating Mandalas. This mandala was from one of my 2005 classes with her in beginning what she termed The Great Round Process. Following is your chance to try one for yourself.
MANDALA-FINDING YOUR MEANING
Mandala is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning center, circumference, or magic circle. The circle is a primal symbol of all that exists. It is often used as a tool to reveal personal insights, healing, and self-expression. Simply drawing a circle creates the intention of wholeness and opens us to experience a wordless journey into our deepest mysteries,
The noted Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung equated Mandalas with Self (the center of the total personality) and used them extensively in his psychiatric practice as a reflection of the inner journey towards wholeness. Joseph Campbell stated, “When you contemplate the Mandala, you are harmonizing inside. The religious (note: I would use the word sacred) symbols are harmonizing powers. They help. That’s the whole sense of Mythology: To help you harmonize with the life of society.” The enlightened soul is open to the marvel and wonder of nature and, indeed, all things. Everything mirrors the miracle of being alive! St. Columbanus said, “If you want to understand the Creator, seek to understand the created things.” Finding what is meaningful to you begins a process of understanding, self-insight and healing.
With mandalas, we can glean wisdom from within and perhaps gain a radical new version of ourselves. In this process, we can allow the cracking open of our personality shell and find the treasures buried beneath the surface. As we explore the treasures, the sage in each of us begins to emerge. If we embrace our sage with love and respect, we can indeed marvel at what wondrous creatures (and creative beings) we humans are. When you create a mandala, it is a message to you, from you and about YOU!
. Mandalas offer communication far exceeding words. They elicit symbols that are considered to be God’s forgotten language-for the heart’s message cannot be delivered in words. If we simply allow the process, it may strip away obstructions that have prevented us from seeing our true nature-that which was encoded in us before our physical birth.
PERSONALIZING THE PROCESS
What you draw in real-time is a snapshot of what is true for you in the moment. You have the power to transform by setting a clear intention and being receptive to subtle self-insights.
- Write a question or statement of concern that is relevant to you in this moment. Work in silence.
- Draw a circle- if working with a preformed circle, trace it with your finger to create the intention. Intuitively choose 3 colors to begin-crayons are recommended as beginning tools.
- Center, connect, and allow the emergence of spontaneous symbology from your psyche to be displayed in the circle. Remember to allow authentic and spontaneous expression avoid thinking too much, just allow intuition to express.
- Upon completion, view from all angles with eyes of love & note which view is the top.
- The images tell a snapshot story- write a one-word or sentence title.
- Note along the margins your first thoughts about each color, number, and symbol.
- Free associate with what you wrote to identify any significant patterns.
- There are no absolute universal connotations in symbols. There are cultural commonalities. Most importantly you determine what things mean to you. You are the only expert on you that exists. Remember the message emerges through you, is intended for you, and is about you.
- When working with others, you may invite their perspectives and interpretive insights. Always, when commenting about the work of another, preface your comments with “if it were my mandala…..”
- When your session is ended it may be wise to meditate several times with your Mandala. Be receptive to additional personal insights and revelations -consider journaling your insights for more depth.
This chalk on black paper mandala reflects the final stage in The Great Round Process symbolically returns psyche to the void from which everything originally emerged. May it inspire you to begin your own insightful mandala journey.
“There is nothing but the source of thought. Feed the soul. Avoid knotted ideas and untie yourself in a higher world. Limit your talk for the sake of timeless communion.” Rumi
Wanda Gail Campbell
Wanda has served thirty plus years as a healthcare professional. Currently, she serves as a Minister of Peace ordained by The Beloved Community. In July, 2007 she completed her PhD in Philosophy focused on Intercultural Peacemaking. For her own spiritual nourishment, she enjoys reading both contemporary and ancient spiritual writings.