“Each person’s life is like a mandala- a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life.” – Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron
One day, I woke up with a realization that I need to paint and draw more. I need to express my divine energy in a creative way. I remembered Meg Graham, who I have met in a Reiki class many years back and her inspiring art that she posted on Meg’s Art facebook page. So I reached out to Meg and we set on time and date for a personal class to learn to draw Mandalas. I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited and open for expressing myself.
I thought there would be many rules to this complex work of art. Sitting on a small chair in Meg’s apartment studio in Staten Island, I was quickly proven wrong. Meg took few minutes to guide me through a meditation and breathing technique to connect to my energetic centers (chakras). Then she handed me white pencils and told me to just doodle on the black paper. “You don’t need to think at all, just go for it,” she insisted.
After I was finished drawing with white pencils, Meg handed me colored pencils and instructed to choose a theme for my next mandala. I picked the “Love” theme since I recently started a new relationship and was basking in those beautiful feelings. Using the compass, I created circles and filled them with colors and patterns that naturally took their forms with their own symbols of conscious and unconscious mind. Meg was drawing along with me and you could see that our mandalas were very different.
Meg shared how her mandala work started few years back after taking a course. “I find when I make a Mandala at lunch my hectic stressful morning starts to melt away and my heart center opens up. I totally become more of a happy camper,” Meg confessed. Mandala drawing became Meg’s daily practice to find inner peace and I could see how it could easily become mine. Over the years, Meg started teaching mandala drawing workshops and playing with different types of mandalas, some became collage drawings, many of which she showcases in art showings and others that are hanging in her apartment.
Meg’s personal and transcendental experiences have shaped her vision for her drawings. The circle is a reminder that our life flows on and on, that we move through the great mandala round in our lives through multiple stages, at various times in our lives. As Pema Chodron said well: “We enter a room, and the room is our mandala. We get on the subway, and the subway car is our mandala, down to the teenager checking messages on her iPhone and the homeless man slumped in the corner. We go for a hike in the mountains, and everything as far as we can see is our mandala: the clouds, the trees, the snow on the peeks, even the rattlesnake coiled in the corner. We’re lying in a hospital bed, and the hospital is our mandala. We don’t set it up, we don’t get to choose what or who shows up in it. It is, As Chogyam Trungpa said,”the mandala that is never arranged but is always complete.” And we embrace it just as it is. Everything that shows up in your mandala is a vehicle for your awakening. From this point of view, awakening is right at your fingertips continually. There’s not a drop of rain or a pile of dog poop that appears in your life that isn’t the manifestation of enlightened energy, that isn’t a doorway to sacred world. But it’s up to you whether your life is a mandala of neurosis or a mandala of sanity.”
Meg’s mandala art is not just static, she brings it alive in the set of beautiful videos that she shares on her youtube channel. Here is one of them called OM:
A few months after taking Meg’s workshop, on a snowy day, I painted my mandala with neon colors that glow with black light: I have also introduced my kids to the mandala painting and it became our family activity. I find that just like meditating, drawing mandalas should be a daily practice in each person’s life. There are even iPhone application tools like Silk that allow you to doodle on the go.