Thursday, May 24, 2012
Dear Birth Peeps,
Birthing From Within just offered a special (and AMAZING) All Mentor Conference (exclusively for our mentors from beginners to certified). The theme was Myths, Mentoring, and Mandalas. We gathered at Synergia Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Our colorful conference began Friday evening with a brief power point presentation showing a variety of mandalas and an introduction to sacred geometry. About half of the women had previous experience painting with acrylics, so I offered a mini-lesson in how to paint and layer with acrylic.
Sweet Dreams: Finally, before going to sleep after a long day of travel, everyone was invited to invoke a “mandala dream.” Mandalas and symbolic art arise from dream-like states of reverie, or that in-between place just before falling asleep or when we are waking. When we try to paint from our ego-mind, we paint what we already know or what we have already seen. The best part of creation and painting is the unexpected aha-moments that come with new and sudden associations between two familiar ideas. That is true learning. Those moments are the joy of creation, creativity, and daring to paint. So off we went… to our cozy little rooms. We left paper and pencil on our bedside tables to catch the dream images. At breakfast we shared our new dreams and were soon in the art room laying out designs and under-paintings.
Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit. A mandala may be composed of circles, squares, upward and downward triangles, and/or star shapes. Alternating and “telescoping” squares and circles, in decreasing diameter, leads the viewer’s eye inward toward the center—and out, or around the border.
In geometric mandalas, the center, is marked by a small black dot, a “bindu.” Bindu represents the "seed" of life, the universal creative potential; it represents the duality of all that is unmanifest made manifest. One of the first tasks in creating a mandala (that is built on sacred geometry) is to mark the center of the mandala and build from there. The center can also be marked by a sacred figure, symbol, bead, or milagro.
There are story mandalas, meditation mandalas, and what I experience as “spontaneous” mandalas. Carl Jung made a series of spontaneous, process-oriented, mandalas during a phase in his life (see the Red Book), and many of us made this type, too.
I began making story mandalas as a “map” on the wall when I was telling complex hero journey myths or fairytales. Instead of using words, little drawings represented key segments, characters, or moments in the story. Last year I made an intricate hero journey mandala which was featured on this blog. This piece is also a meditation mandala because, by focusing on one area or symbol, the viewer can take an inward journey.
Why are childbirth mentors interested in making mandalas? Designing, painting, and beading a mandala is an uplifting meditation and journey inward. Hanging our mandala in our teaching or interviewing space creates a certain mood for us and the parents we work with. Parents enjoy looking into a mandala—taking a journey through all the colors, symbols, or little illustrations.
Of all the childbirth workshops I’ve ever been to, this one was the most joyful and peaceful. Throughout the day, mentors worked side by side, sharing rulers, brushes, and stories, watching one another’s images build and build, and hearing insights. Painting tips and techniques were shared as we went. On breaks, we shared how we used creativity in our own lives and workplace… deep friendships were forged.
More to come,
Pam and Virginia