Welcome back to our 100 Mandalas Challenge hosted by Kathryn Costa and Megan Warren. If you are new here, you can get an overview of the challenge over on this page, HERE. The challenge is to create 100 mandalas in 100 days. Basically a mandala is a design within a circle. Each week we offer a theme and art technique as a point of inspiration. You are welcome to play with the theme or experiment with any materials or styles that catch your interest. You can start your 100 Mandalas Challenge at any time.
Here in the US we will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week. This is traditionally a time to reflect on gratitude. Truly any time is a good time to pick up a gratitude practice. Today's post is focused on the gift of saying, "thanks" and feeling "grateful."
My own gratitude practice began many years ago when my son and I would end our day by naming three things that made us happy in the day.After doing this for some time we started to make connections about the types of things that made us happy: people, learning new things, our accomplishments, and of course creativity brought us joy.
We also noticed that the simple things in life made us happy.
All of this happiness made us feel lucky and truly blessed.
In our gratitude practice we began to notice little miracles each day - meeting the right person at just the right time, or opening a book to the perfect message that we needed to hear. This all led me to the realization that we are part of something bigger and I began to trust in this Divine connection.
I put together a video of 7 ways to work with gratitude in your mandala practice. I had so much fun creating each mandala and reflecting on my blessings, lessons, and challenges. The process makes me so happy and my hope is that you find this same peace and joy. Scroll down to see the ideas mentioned in the video.
1. Say "thanks!"
What better way is there to say thanks than with note cards designed with your own mandala art.
2. Pick a Person You Appreciate
I printed and colored in a coloring page from plantlovegrow.com. I wrote in my husband's name in the center and in each petal wrote a word about something I appreciate about him. When I showed him this mandala he said, "You touched my heart deeply." We all need to feel appreciated. What better way than to create them a mandala? This would be a great project to do with your kids and grandkids.
3. Count Your Blessings
Break up a mandala into as many sections as you like. Here I used hearts for each section and wrote the area in my life that I wanted to reflect on along the top. In the heart I started with the words, "I am grateful..." Then I wrote my blessings as affirmations.
The topics I chose were:
relationships and connections
health and well-being
work life and community
Affirmations are most effective when written in the first person, present-tense, and in your own words.
4. Find the Blessings in Your Challenges
I recently learned that 75% of Americans are unsatisfied in their work and actively seeking a new job. Most of these people are unhappy because they don't feel appreciated. For my challenge mandala, I chose to focus on my workplace as I've often felt restless and ready for a change.
I chose vibrant colors and whimsical patterns to make this a fun exercise.
I found that as I was creating this and after finishing it up, I really felt good about where I work. Try it and let me know if you can transform how you feel about the challenges in your life.
5. Lessons from Loved Ones
There is something to be learned in every relationship. In this mandala, I selected some of my family members. For your mandala you may chose friends, neighbors, colleagues, teachers, mentors, coaches, the "random" stranger you met while shopping for groceries.
Record what you have learned from these people.
I challenge you to pick one person with whom you have a difficult, prickly relationship. What have you learned in this relationship about yourself? What is the unexpected blessing? This is often where we grow the most.
6. Create a Mandala Gratitude Journal
This darling little journal is made using a single sheet of paper folded in half and folded again to create a little accordion book. It is the perfect size for an entire week of journaling.
On some panels I drew in a mini mandala.
On other pages, I scanned a larger mandala, resized it, and printed it to fit. Doesn't the miniature mandala look darling?
By keeping the journal size small, there is no excuses for not recording your daily gratitudes.
7. Create a Gratitude Mandala
In your gratitude practice notice how you feel and the effects. Record your experiences in a gratitude mandala.
As I worked on all of these gratitude mandalas for this post, I found myself feeling filled up with so much joy.
I can't wait to see your mandalas and to hear about your experiences!
Feeling Grateful In Painful Moments
When I was creating this video, I pulled out some images and slides from a presentation I did a year ago on gratitude. "Bonus!" I thought as I was considering how I would start the video. I resized the images and dropped them in and as I was reviewing the video tears began to flow followed by a bout of sobbing. You see my son is now 18 years old and lives 1800 miles away. I miss him and miss being a mom with a child at home. My dear dog that is on one slide with my son has since passed. Oh how I miss that old boy. And there is my Dad who passed a year ago in June.
Even now, tears are flowing. In one of my favorite books, Living in Gratitude: Mastering the Art of Giving Thanks Every Day, A Month-by-Month Guide by Angeles Arrien she quotes from Robert Emmons at his book, "Thanks!"
"Gratitude is the way the heart remembers - remembers kindness, cherished interactions with others, compassionate actions of strangers, surprise gifts, and everyday blessings. By remembering we honor and acknowledge the many ways in which who and what we are has been shaped by others, both living and dead."
I dedicate this video to my son, dog, and Dad. As I wipe the tears and look at this video, I feel so much gratitude for the time I had with each of them. When my son calls me each week, my momma's heart jumps for joy. I haven't lost my boy - it's just times have just changed and I'm learning the lesson of letting go and allowing things to be.
Megan's Gratitude Mandala
Let's head over to Australia to see how Megan approached the gratitude theme.
For this mandala, I was inspired by a mandala that I had seen on instagram that was drawn in pen and the outer circle was done in a single watercolour. This week I have also been working on the 5 days of mandala magic with the lotus mandala being my favourite. I decided to combine the two ideas to create my mandala.
Before beginning I reflected on all the things that I am grateful for in my life. I then set about creating the lotus mandala using a circle template and hand drawing the petals. I then penciled in a line from each petal – providing a space for my gratitude. The space was coloured with watercolour pencil.
There is much written about being grateful for what we have and how it creates abundance. After creating this mandala, I am grateful for this practice and the peace that it creates in my life.
"I Love 100 Mandalas" Contest
There is still time to enter the "I Love 100 Mandalas" Contest for a chance to win "The Mandala Workbook" by Susanne Fincher. CLICK HERE to get the details.
Each week we select a 100 Mandalas participant to spotlight here, on Facebook, and in the weekly e-mail newsletter. I have been touched by the response to our "I Love 100 Mandalas" contest. What started out as a way to celebrate reaching 1,000 likes on Facebook and to spread the word about our challenge has become SO MUCH MORE! The reasons why people love this challenge has touched my heart deeply. Many of you are just getting to know me and may not realize that I work a full-time job and everything I am doing here for this challenge is on my free time. I've been pouring my heart into this project and love every single moment.
I want to begin by thanking EVERYONE who has shared their love for this project. Your participation whether in sharing your daily mandalas or entering into the contest is inspiring me to keep creating and connecting. I feel honored to be in a position to nurture this wonderful online community. Thank you all!
One participant shared in a big way this week. Tamberly Leach Cronkright writes:
"I just wanted to say thank you to you guys for the kind and encouraging words with each mandala piece that is posted here....not only to mine but to each and every one of us.....when my grandson died,(12-29-13~5-23-14)I couldn't understand all the deeper emotions that I was experiencing...it was a hurt so different from the loss of my husband or grandparents.....yet I pushed the hurt aside thinking about the hurt of my child and her husband.....journaling wasn't helping me this time....words were lost. When I drew my first mandala I thought, oh my you really lack artistic ability...I still posted it.....the response from this page made me realize it was beautiful in its own way, much like people. Explaining the picture:of course "I love mandalas" inspired the beginning theme....but, the hand holding the heart is my life's journey now. Going from darkness to the light, knowing there will be many different paths, each a journey of their own, yet part of this journey. This journey is a life long journey, but I will come out of the pain and darkness and learn how to roll with the different curves along the way....there is hope, there is light after the darkness! Chases smile made even strangers smile, his smile lit the world, even if it was just his picture, many never got to personally meet him yet the support has been amazing. Thank you again! Have a blessed day."
Show and Tell
We love show and tell! We hope you'll get excited about your mandalas and want to share what you've done with our community. There are several ways you can play along:
Mr. Linky: At the bottom of each weekly theme there is a place for posting the link to your blog posts. Please be sure to link to your mandala and not just a general link to your website. Thank you!
Facebook: Like the 100 Mandalas Challenge community page on Facebook and post your mandalas.
Instagram: Post your mandalas and tag @100_Mandalas
Pinterest: Like the 100 Mandalas Challenge board on Pinterest and you'll get access to pin your mandalas. I've just made some of the other True North Arts boards on Pinterest public. Follow any of these boards and I'll make you a pinner: Mandalas, Doodles, Zentangle, Rock Mandalas, Danmalas, and Found Object Mandalas.
Hashtag: Wherever you post, don't forget to include the hashtag #100Mandalas
Use this badge on your blogs.
Link to this page: http://www.100mandalas.org
Each Monday a new theme and/or technique will be shared. Think of these as a weekly vitamin, a dose of inspiration to get your creativity fired up. You may like what you see and want to try it out, or you may be groovin' with a particular medium and want to go deeper with it. We love exploring and diving deep and encourage you to follow what interests you.
So you don't forget to take your vitamin, sign up to receive Kathryn's e-mail newsletter. You'll get a weekly update with a link to the current theme.
Mandala Fever is definitely spreading! We hope you'll share your love for mandala making with your friends and family and invite them to take the 100 Mandalas Challenge. We love all of the sharing happening over on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Brightest Blessings to all of you!
I feel deep gratitude,
Kathryn Costa, Collage Diva and Creative Dabbler