We return today to our study of "The Great Round" at Stage 8, "Functioning in the World." If you are just joining us here at the 100 Mandalas Challenge, we are exploring the 12 Stages of the Great Round in Susanne Fincher's book, The Mandala Workbook: A Creative Guide for Self-Exploration, Balance, and Well-Being. Each month since January, we have worked through chapter by chapter the various psychological stages of human growth and development. In each chapter, we are treated with a wide selection of exercises that use mandalas as a means to explore our own thoughts, feelings, and stories as they connect with the current stage.
You have some options here:
- Jump in with us at this stage.
- Start at stage 1 and work your way through the stages at your own pace. Read an interview with the author and start here.
- Skip this series and make mandalas in a style that interests you. See our previous themes for ideas.
What ever you decide, it's all good.
In each stage, Susanne Fincher offers a long list of projects. My hope is to one day complete all of them but for now I'm picking a choosing those projects that interest me in the moment and what I have time for. I encourage you to do the same. Definitely pick up the book as there is so much more than what I share here.
Stage 8: Functioning in the World
"Stage Eight is a time of much activity directed toward clearly defined goals. During this stage you are doing: you are engaged with the world of people and things. You are actively implementing strategies, solving problems, or creating products that benefit yourself and others. Your efforts are well received because you offer the excitement of genuine creativity in a form that can be appreciated. You are riding high in the mainstream of life." (p.141)
As with all of the stages, we might be right there reading these words and saying, "That is exactly where I'm at." Or, in contrast, you might be saying, "Not so much, but I do recall times when I was at this stage." Pause for a moment, reread that paragraph that describes the stage. Check in. Does this sound like where you are at with a project or goal? If not, take some time to connect with this stage by remembering a time when you were here.This month, create your mandalas with this stage in mind.
Characterized by the Number Five
"Mandalas of Stage Eight convey balance, energy, and movement anchored by a strong center. The mandalas of this stage are often based on the number 5: five-pointed stars, flowers with five petals, or even tracings of hands. The paramount symbol for this stage is the five-pointed star, which signifies the one thing you have chosen (consciously or unconsciously) to develop from the myriad possibilities in Stage Two." (p. 143)
Blessings and Protection
After reading about Stage 8 and the number five, I drew the Hamsa symbol pictured above. The hamsa symbol is popular in the Middle East and in North Africa and symbolizes blessings, power and strength, and is seen as potent in deflecting the evil eye. Take a closer look at my design and you'll see several mandalas. Often our projects that are near and dear to our hearts need protection and blessings especially from the well-meaning people in our lives who turn out to be critics. They may not get what we are up to and out of a place of fear project that fear onto what we are doing. When we take risks, we can feel vulnerable. Create a hamsa symbol embellished with mandala patterns. Hang it up as a symbol to bless and protect you and your work.
For more inspiration see: Hamsa Symbols on Pinterest
In an ordinary notebook I traced my hand and added a star between the thumb and finger to represent my star projects. These days, I am fully immersed in Stage 8. I have found my calling and following my soul purpose. Since this is a stage of doing, it is fitting to have a hand as a symbol for it represents what we create and make (often with our own hands). On each finger I noted some of the many projects that I am creating right now including these weekly blog posts, videos for an upcoming YouTube channel, a new website for 100 Mandalas and more.
As I looked on this finished design I imagined someone saying, "High Five" and congratulating me on all that I'm doing these days.
You don't have to have fancy paper and materials to make a gorgeous and meaningful mandala. I drew this in an ordinary notebook. Notice too that the mandala isn't symmetrical with a "radial balance" where all of the shapes are aligned from the center. To create this design, I traced my hand and had fun doodling the designs. I felt like a kid, without a care or plan as to what I would draw. By working in an ordinary notebook, the pressure of performance and perfection is taken off.
I was so very lucky to spend a week with Susanne Fincher the author of "The Mandala Workbook." We worked through the entire 12 stages of the Great Round. I learned so much! It was a blast to watch and listen to her talk about each stage and to ask her questions. I also had the opportunity to meet and work with her talented and wise sister Marilyn Clark. Susan Johnson the third facilitator and I instantly connected.
During the Mandala Intensive we we worked on creating mandalas for each stage. We were not given a lot of time to create each one. In fact, we worked for only 20 - 30 minutes on each mandala. If you are feeling stuck or don't think you have time. Set a timer for 20 minutes. I found that having a short period of time kept me moving and working intuitively. I didn't over think the process.
Pictured above is my Stage 8 mandala from the retreat. While this stage is often symbolized by the five pointed star, I wanted to work without tools and to draw more organically. I chose to draw a flower instead of a star. I reached for pastels to add color and had fun feeling the creamy texture as it was applied to the paper.
It was at this stage that I had an "aha" moment. There was a poster hanging in the studio where we worked that had all of the symbols of the stages arranged in a circle. I noticed how Stage 8 is directly across from Stage 2. In Stage 2 we are not focused on any project or goal. In fact, we are at that blissful stage where there are a myriad of possibilities.
When I look on my Stage 8 flower, I notice in the green spaces in between the yellow petals, that there are blades of grass and many flower buds. These are those seeds of possibilities from Stage 2 that are now beginning to bloom. I see these little buds as the many projects that support my big flower blossom project.
How cool is that?
Consider this: What is blossoming for you right now?
At the Mandala Intensive, I made a new friend, Dana. Here is her Stage 8 mandala. I absolutely love how she works with collage to create her mandalas.
If you look up close you'll see one of her favorite animals, the giraffe, and a confident woman dressed to take on the world. Up there in the upper left corner is the word, "Thanks."
With all of the blessings happening here in Stage 8, I would say gratitude is very important to remember.
Consider this: What are you grateful for right here, right now?
I'm grateful for following my curiosity and the risks I've taken. I'm grateful to all of you for joining me here. This has been an incredible year so far and I look forward each day to your posts and comments on Facebook and Pinterest.
I encourage you to explore Stage 8 by creating five-pointed stars, flowers with five petals, and tracing your hands. Definitely check out Susanne Fincher's book. While I didn't follow any of her projects this month, there is a lot there to learn and discover. I enjoyed reading her stories and description of this stage.
Each week we feature a member from the 100 Mandalas Community. I fell in love with these photos and this precious moment when I saw it on the 100 Mandalas Sharing Circle on Facebook. Laura DuBois Mullins from Fairfax, Virginia pictured here with her Aunt Patou McIsaac writes, "My dear aunt who has dementia assisted me with this sandala." Recently the challenge was to make a temporary mandala. This is a great example of one. Thank you Laura for sharing your special day with us!
Consider this: Who can you share your love for mandalas with this week?
About the 100 Mandalas Challenge
If you are just discovering the 100 Mandalas Challenge, welcome! The challenge is to create 100 mandalas in 100 days (those don't have to be consecutive days). Learn more about the challenge at 100mandalas.org.
Each week (either on Sunday or Monday) a new theme and/or art 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.
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I'm poised to give you all "high fives" for the mandalas you create and post this week. I'll see you over on Facebook and Pinterest.
Kathryn Costa, Collage Diva + Creative Dabbler
Kathryn Costa, New Hampshire, USA
I started the 100 Mandalas Challenge to explore the creative possibilities within a circle and discovered so much more: creating mandalas is a powerful tool for relaxing, healing, and cultivating joy. When I'm not creating mandalas, I enjoy collage and art journaling, photography, and Ikebana (Japanese Flower arranging). I live in New England with my Brazilian husband, Fernando. www.truenortharts.com