Exploring inside on the outside - my journey with Mandalas
I've always liked the notion that the world we experience 'outside' is completely interconnected to the state of consciousness we have cultivated 'inside'.
But a while ago I hit a stumbling block. Even though I fully believed in this concept, it was still just a theory for me. I longed to know how exactly do we raise our consciousness in an age where there are literally thousands of meditation techniques and belief systems to choose from? - I found the whole area baffling.
Then I stumbled upon Mandalas and in all sincerity my life has never been the same since. From the moment I began constructing these geometric shapes an opening occurred. I began to experience firsthand a new depth to my life.
For example, on one occasion I felt a very real presence, nothing spooky now. It was more like the presence you might feel while taking in the view from the top of a mountain on a clear day.
Then gently, I felt a kind of learning occur. It simply highlighted how up until then, my default settings for being in the world were entirely focused outward - on the external. As this inner lesson continued I began to listen and surrender a little more to this presence; imbalances operating in me became exposed and a far vaster experience of reality was revealed.
Mandalas work on the principle of 'like attracts like'. The geometry of the shapes reflect certain states of consciousness. When you create these sacred circles or meditate upon them you are tuning into these higher altitudes. By simply 'being' in these realms you acquire by similitude the properties held within them.
The time spent in these spaces has totally transformed my inner and outer life. But most of all it has nourished my confidence in the fact that there is more to reality than we confront with our day to day state of consciousness.
On the outer level the changes have been real simple, I stopped drinking alcohol for example. It was not really a giving up but more of a losing a desire for it - all of a sudden I just preferred not consuming it. The same happened with eating meat, I seemed to just lose the taste for it in a gentle way. I don’t even have strong feelings about these things. They just simply fell away just like you might stop liking a particular band all of a sudden. It wasn’t a big deal.
On the inner level the changes involved a substantial disempowering of my personal critic. I used to cushion the insights made available to me through these higher states with statements like: ‘wow that was fascinating - but maybe it’s all rubbish - maybe I’m just mad’. But over time the insights and inner learning’s became more and more potent. They led to substantial concrete changes in my marriage, my business and friendships. I could no longer easily dismiss this inner voice. My faith grew in it and as a consequence my relationship with this greater power or inner healer grew stronger. It is now not even a matter of belief, I am convinced that this is the case. I have a confidence in the fact that there is a power available to us that transcends the personal level. I don’t know what this power is but I do know that we can tune into it. When we do this our worlds will change - change for the better.
It is through listening to this inner voice that I have come to choose 4 specific mandala symbols to work with. They are very ancient and the ratios and proportions embedded in them have appeared as: the floor plan at Stonehenge, in the book of revelations, Plato’s ideal city of magnesia, the great pyramid, the birthplace of the platonic solids, the light spectrum, the musical octave amongst many other things.
In their traditional form mandalas are best known as Buddhist icons whose primary function is to transform our ordinary perception of reality into a pure perception of the Buddha nature which permeates all of existence. My confidence has been enhanced through discovering that this art-form I stumbled upon not only dates back into ancient history, But there are rich writings explaining how Buddhist adepts used mandalas not merely as an aid for meditation but as a gateway through to the realm of the Gods.
As I created more and more mandalas and meditated upon them I uncovered a wealth of rich inner experiences. Although, this wasn’t all plain sailing because I do not live in a Buddhist culture or have access to teachers to nourish my passion for such an art form. Night after night I would create these sacred circles often opening to beautiful spaces of bliss and rapture and enjoying insights into the structure of the cosmos for example. But equally as often I would open to some deeply personal issue that was affecting my life. Sometimes the experience felt as if it was guiding me back to the origin of such an issue. At other times I would simply be baffled by the spaces I would experience, unable to explain their significance or content. Furthermore I would also come into contact with unpleasant inner spaces, increased agitation, frustration or feelings of been trapped were common.
It was at this stage I started looking for a map or a framework of meaning that I could integrate into my explorations with mandalas. Through a nice combination of serendipity and coincidence I found just that map in Transpersonal Psychology.
Finally I came across a model of the psyche that not only acknowledged the presence of enhanced states of consciousness but promoted accessing them for healing and growth.
Transpersonal psychology at its core is a model of the human psyche that goes beyond the ego-level. It asserts that you and I are more than ‘name and form’ and deems the spiritual nature of humanity not only valid but essential for psychic health. It is a discipline that grew out of the divide between Freudian psychoanalysis and Jungian Analytical psychology during the 1960’s. Nowadays Transpersonal Psychology is a wheel with many spokes. Dr. Stanislav Grof is amongst the most well known founders and having studied his work over the last seven years I have come to regard the map of consciousness put forward by him as the most helpful tool for my work with mandalas. Embedded in Grof’s cartography of the psyche are three broad categories of inner experience. This allowed me to understand the landscape of the psyche in a new and empowered way.
As I continued to create and meditate with mandalas I now had a tool that could place in context the different categories of experience I became exposed to.
Above all the single most valuable component of Transpersonal Psychology in my experience has been the concept that we all have within us an ‘inner healing wisdom’. Take the example of cutting your finger, at first the skin will become punctured, blood will flow out, harden become a scab and in time; fall off, allowing the skin to repair itself and return to its original form. It returns to wholeness. Now it is not too big a leap of faith to extend this concept to the human psyche. Just like our skin our fragile psyches can become cut, ruptured or fractured. Well in the view of Transpersonal Psychology our psyches are endowed with an inner healing mechanism just like our bodies are. The psyche continually tries to move us towards wholeness. However its job is greatly hampered by an absence of the time or space needed for healing.
The way we live today is so fast, so full of one task after another that we remain trapped for the most part in one state of consciousness. This rapid pace of living is a hindrance to the states of awareness that are most conducive for allowing this inner healing wisdom become active.
Mandalas represent a sacred enclosure, a safe space that puts the white water of the mind aside. These geometric shapes are encoded with rich information and are alluring symbols that attract the contents of our unconscious up into the light of our awareness. This is the process through this inner healing mechanism works.
It is to this end the entire project of mandalanature is dedicated. The primary intention of mandalanature workshops is the creation of an environment that encourages individuals to open to their inner healing wisdom. The provision of mandala templates, coloured sands, the Tibetan hand tools together with focused meditations and evocative music are secondary elements provided to facilitate your opening to the reservoirs of wisdom within.
These symbols speak for themselves and words can’t describe what they offer. They really have to be experienced. Working with these shapes has truly opened me to new worlds. Mandalas have acquainted me with this inner wisdom we all have access to. But most of all they have facilitated a regularity of interaction with this wisdom. Tasting the arising of this inner wisdom on a regular basis has resulted in my life coming into alignment with the movement of this higher self. Step by step my confidence has grown regarding its power and day by day I am surrendering to its will! I’m not there yet and have a long way to go. It might even take life times. But I am ok with that. For me, the journey is the destination.
Geoff Fitzpatrick B.A. has studied psychology in Trinity College Dublin, and is a Graduate of the Milltown Institute of Theology where he studied spiritual enrichment. He has been constructing mandalas for 10 years and regularly holds workshops around Ireland. For more information go to www.mandalanature.com
24/11/2017 to 26/11/2017