After spending the first 53 years of my life in California, I moved to the Twin Cities. I’d be a lying if I told you that there are four seasons on the left coast. There is no discreet transition between the warm, sunny days of summer and the damp, rainy monotony of winter. My new life in Minneapolis is a continual fascination with the exuberance of the weather in the Upper Midwest. It’s thrilling to contend with the intense cold of winter and I am transfixed by the magic of falling snow!
The small garden I tend explodes in spring, becoming a lush tangle of colors in just a couple of months. Summer is a damp and brazen heat that wraps the Cities for a brief period, driving exuberant residents into the streets and out to the lakes. Fall is authentically…well, fall, with streets buried in multi-colored leaves and temperatures that transform your breath to visible vapor. For a California boy, this is the stuff of storybooks. I cherish each day.
The seasons have been teaching me that there is a time for action, creation and movement, and also a time for stillness and rejuvenation. This wisdom of balance is gradually manifesting in my life. Previous to moving to my apartment on Lyndale Avenue, I ran a continual marathon, teaching courses on several continents with little pause. Now I clearly see the importance of creating a time of rest.
Last December, as I was completing a series of courses in Brazil and preparing to leave the humid heat for the frigid, northern hemisphere, I received strong guidance to create a short course, focused on tranquil rejuvenation. All my previous courses have involved long, intense days of work resulting in certification. The new offering was to rise from the intention to rest and receive. I had many possibilities to choose from for the course itinerary. I knew the three days would be nourished by the transformational healing technique that I teach, the Frequencies of Brilliance. I also wanted to share the Vipassana tradition that has been a perennial presence in my life and granted me deep experiences of union. A third element was gently carried to me via a conversation with a friend who mentioned her daily practice of drawing mandalas — and something immediately felt right.
Many of us have a general knowledge of the ancient tradition of the mandala. I have one hanging in my treatment room — a gift from a friend who purchased it in a Nepalese market. As I began to research them, I discovered strong evidence that the mandala was the perfect complement to the other two elements, and together, would form the hibernal retreat.
I want to share with you the startling synchronicity sponsored by this powerful, ancient tool. During my investigations I encountered Mandalas, by Dr. Judith Cornell. One exercise in her lovely book stood out: drawing on black paper with a white pencil. This was perfectly suited to our winter course in the Wisconsin woods, surrounded by a snow-covered forest in hibernation. I was fascinated to discover that Carl Jung used the mandala extensively with clients, as well as in his individual healing journey. In 1959, he wrote, Mandala Symbolism.
At the beginning of my course last January, each student was given a white pencil and a black piece of paper with a large, white circle drawn in the center. After blessing the materials and a suggestion to draw from the soul — not from the mind — we began. Marvelous images appeared on the paper, authentic expressions of each person’s unique, divine spark. The drawings became more ornate during the following three days. At the close of our last day, the images were fully formed. We gazed in joyous awe at the glowing flowers hanging on the walls surrounding our workroom!
It is tantalizing to tease white images out of a black void while giving free reign to the deep psyche to speak of the forces present. Our magnificent images held within the white circle on the black paper are powerful metaphors for the integration of the sum of our aspects, joining together as one. It’s alchemy when we allow ourselves to draw spontaneously. Polarity dissolves as density is transformed into a dance: an intuitive, integrative movement towards higher consciousness.
Our entire world resonates with many circles! We view the universe through circular lenses: a black pupil surrounded by a colored iris. Our planet, the moon and the sun reflect these orbs. The circle repeats in nature: the waves resulting from a stone dropped into a pond, a gopher’s dark burrow, an arc created by flower petals, the walls of our cells, and the galaxies that swirl their arms in circular rotation. The circle is one of Creation’s foundational symbols and was likely the first form used by human beings to create sacred space: the monoliths of Stonehenge, the medicine wheel, the mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism, the tholos in the sanctuary of Athena and the domes of countless churches.
The mandala is a womb, protecting all the aspects of Self. It affirms limitlessness, inviting all seasons of the soul to be present, unique and complementary.