Here is what unfolded for me: The little epiphany I’ve described (in posts below starting with January 4th) was almost a sound as much as a thought. I heard something - my listening became acute. I translated the experience as ‘knowing I knew something’, if that makes sense. The landscape of the Circle of Promise seemed to draw me in – even though I had yet to name this as a place it seemed to be where the sound was coming from. I’d felt an ever present and ever-increasing yearning from the time my life changed after treatment for cancer. I didn’t know how long I would live, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to be living for anymore. But I knew the yearning was real. And I wanted to follow it to its source because I had nothing to lose. I wanted to live as authentically and joyfully as I could and that meant understanding my original promise.
I felt that there was something – like a soul’s code or song – that lived within me and had always tried to express itself. I think that, perhaps, much of the confusion, discontent, anger, self-doubt I’d known in my life was linked to not listening to my song.
More Specific Mandalas Created Later, circa 1996-97
The Circle of Promise (references refer to the top mandala-diagram)
You Have a Song (center)
What would the symbol for my song or story look like? I saw a ‘kernel’ - in a paisley shape. In that moment I felt the truth of its existence and its potent story. I knew it had always been there and was always mine. It is in the very center of the Circle - it is directly linked to your higher self, to the Divine, to the Mystery (however you want to characterize the ultimate unknowable Truth - the Light).
Vessel - Field of Silence and Reflection (holding the symbol in the center)
Where does my song reside? What container or vessel holds my song for protection? The vessel (I chose a nautilus) is a place of pure love – an unconditional love that protects … so that nothing can penetrate or damage what’s inside. You can return here when you’re confused or out of synch, when your soul is weary. Sit in silence and reflection… to remember. This may be the most important thing I came to know: I can return here to remember my Song - it is real for me to this day.
Field of Truth and Passion (black circle with black triangle over it)
What was the ground, the landscape, holding space for my vessel? The vessel sits in a circle, a place of truth, where nothing false has ever dwelled. Over the circle sits a womb-like triangle, a symbol of feminine power (Tibetan Tantric) where the passion of creative expression begins. Where unborn ideas and dreams can gestate in a pure state of intention.
Field of Fire (red jagged lines around the circle and triangle)
How do I begin the process of bringing my song and its story out into the world? Filled with my Song from sitting with it in reflection, I was inspired to take it into the Field of Fire where it became charged with momentum. The Field of Fire fuels and sparks the activity that begins the act of creation and outward expression of your Song in the world.
Field of Expression (magenta petals surrounding space outside red flames)
How do I bring my gifts, my talents and my song into form? A burst of creative energy occurs after NAMING your gifts, and what inspires you, and what feels true. No longer just reflecting, now moving forward from the fire of motivation… taking steps and taking risks to begin somewhere… to paint, to write, to learn, to practice, to sing, to climb mountains, to travel, to become a chef, to design shoes, to leave behind what doesn’t work. Begin the thing that intrigues you. You were born to do this. You are protected and safe.
Field of Fearless Manifestation (aqua lotus-like petals at the outside)
I’ve listened to my song and begun to express my promise. How do I contribute my gifts to the world? This is the final place of purification, releasing fears, doing the actual business of researching, setting objectives and refining over and again the form your gifts will take in the world. It is the presentation of your Song. You are ready to risk disappointment and failure… I will personally testify that this is going to happen if you decide to leap. I have said this over and over and over and I’ll say it again: Leap anyway.
The layered flower wreath below is an example of where my original diagram has taken me and so where my yearning has taken me. You can go through the steps from 1-6 using the flower below. Use it to energize your own process by seeing your Song in the golden center within the orange-red Field of Fire and so forth... out to the green petals where you interface with the world. This flower mandala is created with images of several white zinnias (exuberance and vitality) and the calyx of a sunflower (reaching great heights, facing the sun).
This turned out to be a much more complicated and lengthy and emotional process than I imagined when I first thought of sharing it. I've never shared the details of my own process before. I had to go through the exercises again myself to remember and name the things I feel compelled to offer to the world. I had to overcome some of the self-talk about wasting my time and the time of anyone who reads this because it might not be worthy. And as I reread all of it, I see it is not perfect and not always easy to follow. I will keep working on it. And on myself.