The Gift

I recently took part in a mandala workshop which was gifted to me for my birthday. Aware of some nervousness rising as the day drew closer, bolstered by some firmly held beliefs that I cannot draw or paint, I was somewhat apprehensive. Feeling also a hundred encroaching pressures on my time from my business, study and relationships, I accepted the gift with good grace but not without some unwelcome reservations churning around inside.

I deliberated. On the one hand I had my own hang-ups about drawing, yet on the other someone had taken time to think of, arrange and gift me this present; it was well thought out, a considered invitation to venture into my stretch zone, and maybe I should be open to their wisdom.

As I entered the workshop a little unsettled; being the only man on the course and not having brough my own tools, and (oops)bringing a compass for navigation not drawing, I felt a bit out of place.

The workshop started with a pleasant, grounding meditation, focusing on the light of Imbolc, and before we began we were asked to pick a card, and look up the meaning …

" Darkness and light ... Yin and Yang are opposites in union, together they represent a balanced whole, each contains a piece of the other. Owl and Raven - Wisdom and Magic. This card suggests that a process of balancing is at work in your life. You are learning that living in oppostion brings a sense of tension and dissatisfaction, and that it constructs boundaries between you and the people and circumstances in your life, this effect of separation likely has little or nothing to do with how you wish to view your life or your purpose in it.

You are asked to look at the way you are living and begin designing ways to bring yourself in to balance with your true nature. How will it look when the dissatisfaction is mitigated? Will you be the same person? Movement towards balancing all areas of your life will activate rejuvenation and greater joy and freedom. Acknowlege the dark space with the light, but truly see your light shining in the darkness. "

I was surprised, and humbled at how the card spoke to me, not just within the microcosm of the workshop unfolding, but also with a deeper resonance for challenges I’m facing in my life, in my self, at the moment.

Entering the Unknown

We were given information about numbers and geometry, and I clung on gratefully to the precision and beauty of mathematics, which I love. We were working with 3’s and 6’s in this workshop.

The tea break allowed me time to ponder and to integrate the wisdom of the card I had pulled, and relate it to my current present experiences.

When we came to commit pencil to paper, it took me a while playing with shape and design before I was willing to start sketching my piece, and a while longer before I was prepared to add some color, using watercolours which was, again, an unfamiliar medium. But the workshop was well held, and I was generously supported.

By the end I felt I had loved the workshop; the time just seemed to disappear, and I was lost in the work; the shape and color evolving in to an interesting representation of balance, symmetry, and organic intuitions that seemed to reflect my life back to me.


On returning, relating my experience about the workshop to the wise friend who set it up for me, she reflected that a lot of people probably feel similar unfamiliarity or trepidation at the beginning of my classes. I felt awake in that moment to the importance of the beginners mind, and attuned, with compassion, to those I encounter in my classes for the first time.

“The nature of learning is that we stand in a state of unknowing in relation to what it is that will be learned. In approaching anything which seems new or a little strange, we need to view it from the sttitued and confines of other systems, traditions or already established beliefs and concepts, but perhaps ‘suspend our disbelief’ for a while and enter without too many preconceptions, with the openness of ‘Beginners mind.’

Linda Hartly Wisdom of the body moving

“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”

Rainer Maria Rilke