Last month I sent my newsletter subscribers some ideas for reflecting on their deeper needs.
I asked them to set aside (for the moment) any resolutions or actions they planned to take this year and simply check in with themselves by finishing these sentences:
Why not try it yourself right now? Go ahead!
Let the words flow and complete each sentence string four or five times.
Once you’ve finished, you’ll probably see that you’re experiencing a mix of things: I am grateful, curious, unsure, joyful, worried. Or, I have yearnings, hopes, fears, dreams.
It’s normal to be in different places (at the same time) on the being/having/feeling continuum.
So this isn’t about controlling challenging life experiences or feelings.
It is about acknowledging the power you have to balance yourself out on that continuum though. And once you allow space to look inward and reflect, you’re likely to experience more clarity (and empowerment) about your deeper needs and feelings. Try it now by finishing this sentence:
In this period of my life I need to feel…
I finished the sentence and came up with four general areas of feelings: Rested & Renewed; Aware, Conscious & Deliberate; Loving & Connected; Creative.
Now, this is all well and good. But so often when we reflect in this way it just sits on the paper or stays in our heads.
Considering that the calendar pages keep turning like crazy and we’re almost halfway through February, wouldn’t it be lovely to actually create a practice around this?
Welcome: the deeper feelings mandala practice
It’s so very easy. Take a piece of paper and draw (with colored markers, crayons, paint, anything) a good-sized circle on it, dividing it up into about four general feeling areas that need some love from you during this period of your life. If you like color do what I did: fill in the background, add a bit of design, whatever!
Then make a dot in each section that represents how nourished each feeling area is at this moment in time. And simply connect the dots and write in the date.
Revisit your mandala regularly, every week or so. And repeat the process each time.
Voila: your own living, breathing, growing, evolving mandala.
My initial inspiration for this came from the life pie/mandala activity in Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way. According to Julia, your pie reflects six areas of life (spirituality, exercise, play, work, friends, romance/adventure).
Many years ago I used that activity with clients and I’m not sure why I stopped. Maybe because along the way my wise clients taught me that for most of them it wasn’t so much the specific areas of life that needed their nurturing and attention, but the deeper needs and feelings that made up the foundation of those life areas. Now that I’ve revised it to focus on feelings, though, I can see that it will be a great tool for helping clients.
As you can see, I’ve now been hanging out with my own deeper feelings mandala almost every week since the beginning of the year.
And here’s what I can tell you: it’s not about trying to make it all balance out.
Rather, it’s about regularly holding this piece of unfolding personal art in your hands (that alone provides ongoing healing and renewal).
Then reflecting. Centering. Checking in.
Laying down the dots and connecting them is an act of both reviewing and envisioning.
It’s mindful and hopeful.
And it’s the delight of discovery. Like the revelation that feeling loving and connected to yourself is just as important right now as feeling loving and connected to others.
It’s being a map maker without knowing exactly where the map is going.
All that from spending a few minutes each week with a simple circle and some dots and lines and color?
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I always feel so refreshed when I read one of your posts. I’ll have to do the mandala the way you suggested it. It sounds much easier than what I knew about mandalas. I did fill in the blanks as I read through the post. I just let the words come out and it was interesting to see what evolved.
Wonderful to hear that, Sara. If you do create an evolving mandala for yourself, I’d absolutely love to see it!
What a great idea, Patty! The way I see it, it’s connecting the dots into clarity and acceptance. It gives us both power and self-compassion. thank you. ♥
So well said, Maryse!