Lately, I’ve been spending many nourishing days walking, drawing and exploring this beautiful yet melancholy time of year.
The shades in the leaves take my breath away. They are like jewels glistening in the chill, damp air.
The smell of mulch fills my nostrils as I drink it all in.
I feel life’s energy withdrawing to rest and as it all begins to fall away and sink back into the ground I am reminded of impermanence. Through all the inevitable changes and cycles that surround me I am reminded the value of gratitude. Gratitude for what has come to pass, gratitude for what has yet to come. But most importantly, gratitude and acceptance for the here and now.
I’m finding Autumn to be an awe-inspiring time of year to create and be in nature.
On this particular foray I’m collecting vividly coloured leaves and pine cones for my forest school group. We are making natural Autumn mandalas in honor of the season and the gifts that nature bestows us. It is this sense of appreciation and gratitude that I would like the children to connect with during the session. What a joy it is to guide them in the process of being and creating with mother nature.
I’ve ran natural mandala workshops with several groups of children over the Autumn and each time it has been wonderful to watch their enthusiasm. Excitedly selecting their materials, sensitively considering the shapes, colours and textures within their work. Each time I have been delighted by the beautifully articulate and playful ways in which they describe their work and show their appreciation for each others.
Here are some tips on getting started making your own natural mandalas…
1. Get a feel for where you would like to create your mandala. Before you begin making your mandala, spend a little time becoming aware of and connecting with the place that you are in. Be still. Listen to the sounds, feel the earth beneath your feet. Look around with fresh eyes. Touch and sense your surroundings.
2. When you feel ready, begin to gather materials. You may want to collect a whole range of things at once or begin with just a few objects. Choose what will be in the centre of your mandala and work out from there.
3. Let your mandala grow. Each mandala reveals itself gradually through the process of creation. Once the centre of your mandala is in place you can begin adding orbits of different materials as you feel drawn to them. Making natural mandalas is about working with nature and the elements. You will get to know and discover your materials as you go. Maybe some leaves begin to blow away in the wind so you have to weigh them down by incorporating small stones into your pattern or using twigs to pin them down. Maybe you feel drawn to certain colours, shapes or textures and use them to accentuate or define your pattern. Let the process be mostly intuitive and allow it to be a process of deepening your connection to your surroundings and the diversity of species within that place.
Natural Mandalas speak of the place they were created. They take us on a creative journey with nature. and as we let go of our creations and allow the breeze and the forest creatures to reclaim them, we are remind of the transience of life.