Session Three: Connecting with the Ancestors
I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet... wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as "my" feet were actually "our" feet.
Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.
From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time."
- Thich Nhat Hanh, in "No Death, No Fear”.
I hope you are all keeping well and healthy. Welcome to the third session of Path to Centre. I hope that you found sessions one and two to be of help and that you feel lighter after them. You can return to those practices any time you feel to and when you need those particular tools to help you through. Remember, by doing this work, you not only help yourself, but you help others around you.
Above you will find a meditation on connecting with your ancestors and below at the end of the page, is a meditation made for our group to connect over space and time, joining together our heart energy. I hope that you find it healing and connecting.
It's been lovely to witness you sharing, connecting and supporting each other on our private Facebook group. It warms my heart! If you haven't already joined the group, you can do so by clicking the button at the end of this page.
A Recap on Materials
The materials you will need for these sessions are probably lying around your home. Please don't venture out specifically to get materials! You might pick some up during your next necessary grocery shop. You can use markers or gel pens. If you don't have those, you can use pencils, even biros! Even if you only have one coloured biro, use that and play with the tones, with the dark and light to complete the mandala.
How the sessions work
Print out the Mandala as an A4 page and if you have a printer that can print it out as A3, all the better. If you can already draw mandalas, draw one from scratch for yourself, using this session as your prompt. If you aren't familiar with how to create a personal mandala, then please use the colouring PDF provided below.
Set your Sacred Space
Set up a sacred and quiet space for yourself where you will engage with the mandala. You can do this simply by lighting a candle or burning some incense. Perhaps gather crystals or objects from nature that have meaning for you. But please do set aside a special space and time with intention to do this work. Treat this time for yourself as a loving inward time dedicated solely to you.
Connecting with our Ancestors
In this session, we will focus on the connecting with our ancestors. I think Thich Nhat Hanh's piece above is simply beautiful. In many traditions right across the world, the idea of connecting spiritually with your ancestors has been a part of spiritual practice for thousands of years, and it is only in relatively recent times that that tradition began to die out. In times of deep difficulty, and particularly on the collective level such as we are experiencing right now, it is a wonderful practice to undertake. In losing touch with our ancestors, we lose touch with our roots, with the blood that courses through our very veins. With the land that we inhabit and with the brilliant creative minds and talents who came before us.
In this mandala practice, set intention to connect more fully with your ancestors. And not only your blood ancestors, but also those who walked, tilled and lived on the ground that you now live on even if it is a different ground to that of your bloodline. Who were they? What did they do and how did they survive? And then there are the ancestors of your passions...so for example if you are an artist, you might reflect on artists from bygone eras whom you admire and respect for what they achieved in their life-time? Who are the people from the past that you admire most?
Thinking back on our ancestors and all they survived in order for us to actually be here is a powerful thing to do. If you're Irish, they lived through famine, civil war, WW1 and WWII...and all that came before through our long and often troubled history. No matter where you are in the world, your ancestors survived both little setbacks and huge setbacks. It is quite amazing to realise what they survived and really connect with it.
If your relationship with your relatives was strained when they were here or you feel disconnected from your heritage, the thought of asking your ancestors for assistance can be disconcerting. I know that I personally have had difficulty connecting down my paternal lineage, but I have been getting better and healing it over the past number of years. When the soul takes on its spirit form, it becomes pure light. Your ancestors, regardless of who or what they were in life, are keeping an eye on your life's journey because you are their progeny and they want to see you thrive.
And not only your blood ancestors, but also the people who lived on the land you now live on. They too want to see you do and be your very best. They want to see the land they inhabited flourish. And then also the brilliant creative minds who came before you...they want that creative energy to move through you and to grow over time and space. Perhaps you can write a list of the people from the past whom you admire the most. The ones you'd love to sit down with and have wisdom filled conversations. Who are they?
Set your intention to communicate with all these people, from the bloodline, the land and the creative realms. Invite in their wisdom while creating or colouring in your mandala. Wisdom may come to you through the process, or it may come later in the form of a conversation you are having with someone, information that you serendipitously hap upon, synchronicities and even through your dream-time as is often how it happens for me. If you do find yourself home with plenty of time on your hands, perhaps now would be a good time to research the family tree? Or if you or someone in your family has already done that, you might access it and connect more fully with it.
When you connect with your forbears in this way, be sure to thank them for being a part of the web of intent that gave you life. Honour their wisdom and experience and it will make your life seem larger and richer. If there is a particular question or problem that you are needing help with, ask that question and allow the answer and wisdom to come to you in whatever form is right and comfortable for you.
The Card for Session Three from Alana Fairchild's Rumi Deck
The card is 'Divine Mother Manifests' and the quote is:
"O, you living in the world of six directions,
accept the gloom and accept the bliss,
for those seeds buried in the ground
will one day grow into fruitful orchards"
What a beautiful card. The seeds buried in the ground. In the ground where our ancestors planted them. I love the card and the image of the divine mother who holds us in nurturing healing light. Looking at the card, the idea has come to my mind that I was a seed created inside my mother while she was herself a growing baby inside the belly of her mother....and all the way back it goes. Every female fetus, including your mother, developed all the eggs she will ever have while she was a fetus still inside of her own mother! And of course, one of those eggs ultimately developed into you. So in reality, you started your life inside of your grandmother. Now this is where it gets even more magical. If you yourself are lucky enough to be pregnant have given birth to a little girl, you can know that you held your potential future grandchildren inside of you!
And that's where I'd like to invite you to connect with your future generations. Whether you have children or not you can still do this. Who are the people who in the future will inhabit the land you live on? Who are the writers, artists, business people etc will will come after you?
A beautiful visualisation is to close your eyes and imagine a tunnel of light behind you and a tunnel of light before you. Really feel into it. Feel if there are any blocks either behind or ahead. Visualise the light growing stronger, connect with your heart centre and with your sacral chakra (just behind the naval) and visualise those blocks being removed and the tunnels becoming clearer and clearer and filled with bright healing light.
When you feel you have completed your mandala, close your eyes and sit in stillness. Notice how you are feeling in your body. Do you feel more expansive?
When you feel your mandala is complete, please do share the image and your experience with the practice in our closed private Facebook Group which is a safe space in which to do this work. Feel free to do a video into the group if you'd like to. It is beautiful to bear witness to each other, to stand together in our collective experience. I ask you to honour, respect and witness and support each other within the group. There is no need to try to fix anybody, just witness them on their journey. The link to join the group is below.
Be still. Notice how you are feeling.
Notice how you are feeling in your body.
Notice how you are feeling in your mind.
Notice how you are feeling in your heart.
Notice how you are feeling in your spirit.
A little Extra But Powerful Exercise For You To Do!
For this session, I am also going to invite you to do a short journaling exercise. I would like you to think back on a difficult time in your own life. A time when you were pushed outside your comfrot zone and through your courage, you got through it. How did you get through? What did you learn from the experience. Looking back on it, did the experience enrich your life in any way? Acknowledge yourself for what you did, how you got through and how you grew and changed as a person. Remember, the word Courage is a heart word, it comes from the root coeur, the French word for heart. Bravery is compassion. Bravery is vulnerability. Bravery is love. Feel free to share you stories in the Facebook group if you feel to. They can help others too.
Your Completed Mandala - Keep or Destroy?
When completed, you can either keep your mandala somewhere where you can see it. Allow it to give you further insight. You might perhaps meditate on it. Often they deliver you wisdom as you walk by them, glancing at them as you are going about something different!
Alternatively, if you feel to - and you know best - you can create a ritual, releasing the energy of what came up for you by burning your mandala. Please do this in a safe way either in your fireplace or stove or outside in a safe place. Burn the mandala with the intention of letting this energy go, of transmuting it to a higher power. Allow yourself to release any further emotions that might surface during this process.
For this mandala, you might also keep it creating a small altar space someplace in your home where you can place the mandala and perhaps photos or objects from your ancestors, from the land you are grounded upon or items that symbolise the creative energies you wish to connect with. Light a candle (but please be careful that the flame is not near the paper!!....goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway!) Treat this space with reverence and allow it be a space for you to connect to the larger mandala of your life, the circle of existence, what came before and what is yet to come.
So....that is it for session three! Again I will say that it is brave work you are doing, and you are courageous for showing up to do it. Honour yourself for taking the time to do it. Do something nice for yourself like taking a candlelit bubble bath or cooking yourself and your family your favourite meal. Do the meditation above if you can and I have also linked to another 'Sri Durga' Meditation, letting go of the old to bring in the new which I feel might be useful during this practice.
Thank you so much to the people who kindly donated. It is not necessary at all to donate, but much appreciated if you feel to.
The Mandala painting above is called 'Return of the Sidhe'. It feels ancestoral...as though a gathering is happening beneath the Earth. A great piece to meditate on as a part of this session. I wrote a piece on it back in February...I have linked to the blog post here. Hmmm....more to meditate on this piece and how it relates to what is happening now....
Limited edition prints are available at https://www.healingcreations.ie/shop.html
Beyond the Clouds Limited Print
Meditating on this mandala brings about a feeling of surrender; an acceptance that we cannot control everything.
This piece is a meditation on order and chaos. It was something new for me to create a completely abstract background and then to place ordered geometry on it. It is a concept I have always been interested in. If all in our lives is perfectly ordered, we become bored. If all in our lives is completely in chaos, we are overwhelmed and anxious. Treading a fine balance between the worlds of order and chaos is what we really all want. Treading the way of the Tao. When I look at the finished piece, it is as though looking through stormy chaotic clouds out into a divinely ordered universe. It's a piece that makes you think a little deeper. I've gathered some of my favourite quotes on the philosophy of order and chaos, some you might like to ponder on whilst meditating with this mandala.
"In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order." ~ Carl Jung
“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” (M. C. Escher)
"We live in two worlds - order and chaos. In the world of order, we plan, reflect, and think about what to do next. In the world of chaos, things happen, we get things done, yet unpredictability persists. In one world, we like to think we are in control. In the other, we mingle together with increasing complexity, conflict, and uncertainty." ~ David Spangler
"In terms of the game theory, we might say the universe is so constituted as to maximize play. The best games are not those in which all goes smoothly and steadily toward a certain conclusion, but those in which the outcome is always in doubt. Similarly, the geometry of life is designed to keep us at the point of maximum tension between certainty and uncertainty, order and chaos. Every important call is a close one. We survive and evolve by the skin of our teeth. We really wouldn't want it any other way." ~ George Leonard
"Mathematicians are beginning to view order and chaos as two distinct manifestations of an underlying determinism. And neither state exists in isolation. The typical system can exist in a variety of states, some ordered, some chaotic. Instead of two opposed polarities, there is a continuous spectrum. As harmony and discord combine in musical beauty, so order and chaos combine in mathematical [and physical] beauty." ~ Ian Stewart
"Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds." ~ George Santayana
The smaller print measures 30cm x 30cm (12" x 12") and comes beautifully mounted (16" x 16")
The larger print measures 50cm x 50cm (20" x 20") and comes safely rolled in a postal tube.
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