You may remember that a couple of weeks back I shared with you an unfinished piece. After many many hours work, it is finally completed. It has been quite a journey, this one. I have tried to capture it as best I can with my camera, but the true colour and detail are proving elusive.
Last night as I put the final touches to this mandala, I experienced such an overwhelming opening of the heart. I could almost feel it expand in my chest. There and then I resolved to call the piece 'Heart Opening'. Then literally 2 seconds later, my phone lit up with a mail from a photographer friend, Peter Maeck. Peter shares a piece of his work every other day, and I love seeing his work come into my mailbox. I opened the attachment on the mail to find the photograph above entitled...you guessed it "Open Heart'!!
It always makes me smile the synchronicities that arise around this work. So this week it is all about opening the heart space. As many of you know, in Yoga, much emphasis is placed on opening the heart. And I believe that meditating on mandala and engaging with the geometries can also have a similar affect. So what does it mean, this opening of the heart?
Throughout our lives, things we have been taught, experiences that we may have had where we have been hurt in some way, cause us to put a protective barrier around our heart. If you take the time to meditate, gaze at the mandala, close your eyes and tune inside. Take a deep, slow gentle breath in and fill your body with awareness. Begin to feel heart your heart radiating and your whole body tingle with aliveness. Allow your heart to fill with gratitude, even if it is for something as small as a hot cup of tea.
Allow yourself to breathe any toxins out and to let go of any hurt you may feel. Rest in stillness for a moment before breathing in again. Breathing deeply and easily you will feel yourself dropping inside, connecting and coming to inner peace. Feel the flow of life gently flowing through your body.
Our hearts are like a pipelines that carry life force energy and emotion through us. Our heart starts out very open as babies and usually closes down as we get hurt in big and small ways whilst growing up. With this shutting down we can lose our passion and aliveness. We become stressed and anxious and lose our connection to who it is that we truly are.
I read recently that Carl Jung on a trip to Africa was speaking to a shaman there, the shaman said 'You white men, you think from the wrong place.' Jung replied, 'How do you mean?' The shaman pointed to his head and said 'You think from here.' And Jung asked 'Where do you think from?' And the shaman pointed to his heart. (I think the book was Carl Jung by Claire Dunne)
So this mandala urges us to bring awareness to the heart space. If you find yourself too much in the head space, become aware of your breath and move awareness to the heart. It is a life changing habit to engage in!
I am delighted to say that on Friday I collected the first of a series of limited edition prints which are now available of two of the very large pieces. These are two of my favourite mandalas, and more will be coming soon! The prints are smaller than the originals at 30cm x 30cm. They have been scanned to a very high quality and reproduced in fine print. I am so happy with the quality of these and the amazing job of scanning and printing that The copper House Fine Art Printing Studio here in Dublin did with the pieces without loosing a milligram of detail! They feel very sumptuous indeed, almost like velvet. All prints are limited edition of 100 and are fine art archival pigment print on acid free paper. This means that the inks used will not change colour over time & will last 80yrs + under archival conditions. Each print is signed and numbered and comes emboss-stamped by The Copper House Fine Art Printing Studio and is printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Paper.
So today I am going to share with you again one of these two pieces, but I will look at it from a different angle than before. This piece is hanging on the wall in my home and it is one that I contemplate and meditate with regularly. I ended up calling it 'The Infinite Garden'.
The idea of paradise as a garden is a very ancient one, pre-dating the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, by centuries. Within the Islamic context the key elements of flowing water, shade and exuberant foliage powerfully convey ideas of both spiritual and physical refreshment.
One of the first references of a paradise garden can be found in the first writings known to man, dating from around 4000 BC during the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia. The Babylonians in turn described their divine paradise in the Epic of Gilgamesh (2700 BC) : “In this immortal garden stands the tree … beside a sacred fount the tree is placed”.
The word ‘paradise’ comes from the Persian word pairidaeza – the Persians being one of the earliest peoples to ,cultivate and maintain gardens. Petri means around and deaza means wall, thus the word suggests an area isolated from its surroundings, enclosed by walls.
The term “Garden of Eden” suggests the spiritual peace and harmony of man’s primordial state. Gardens of Eternity, Delight, Bliss, Refuge. “Gardens underneath which rivers flow”. On one level this evokes the literal image of water flowing beneath in order to irrigate the flowerbeds, but on a deeper level it suggests the nurturing of the ‘garden within’ by the ever-flowing waters of the spirit which purify the soul.
Indeed, water is symbolic of the soul in many traditions, reflecting the soul’s ability to renew itself while remaining true to its source. When contemplating this mandala, the upper square feels like this walled garden of human consciousness. The square beneath brings to mind water flowing beneath this garden. We plant seeds in our gardens in order for them to grow, and so too we plant seeds in our consciousness to expand our realities, to bring us to a higher plane. Other seeds are not deliberately planted, but are blown by the wind or dropped by the birds. So too is our consciousness affected by all around us.
This mandala asks, what seeds are you planting in your garden? Are you nurturing them by allowing the river to flow effortlessly beneath?