Flower Mandalas

Flower Mandalas

Mandalas, healing, and Carl Gustav Jung

Jung

Stone Wall X, Jamaica Plain MA
Copyright 2013 David J. Bookbinder

Making mandalas, which I began to do in 2001 shortly after I acquired my first digital camera, was one of the main ways I was able to integrate the “me” I was prior to a near-death experience and the “me” I was afterward. Post-NDE, I had been taken apart and put back together surgically, but on both physical and emotional/psychological levels, the Humpty Dumpty I had been before was not the same as the one I had become. Mandalas were a way, at first unconsciously and later as a conscious meditation, to connect my fragmented parts to a central core.

Unwittingly, I had stumbled on a process that psychiatrist Carl G. Jung had developed in the early 1900s. Jung painted his first mandala in 1916 and mandalas soon became central both to his personal development and to his work with his psychiatric patients.

Jung believed that mandalas — which occur in many religions, in dreams, in schizophrenic drawings, in nature, and in industrial designs — are archetypal forms. They are part of what he called the “collective unconscious,” and as such are an organizing principle built into all of us. The central point of a mandala is symbolic of the center of our being, a still, calm point about which the chaotic elements of our lives revolve. Creating mandalas, Jung believed and I was rediscovering, provides a way to get in touch with our still, central point and to symbolically bring order to our internal chaos.

Jung referred to the mandala as an “archetype of wholeness.” In the mandala, opposites are united, a sense of wholeness is achieved, and the result is esthetic harmony. A parallel process occurred in the lives of the mandala makers. In his work with his patients, Jung was able to trace the progression of this dual harmonious state by correlating the coherence of the mandalas his patients drew with their psychological recovery.

In my present work as both psychotherapist and mandala artist, I seek to carry out my variant of Jung’s work. Although I don’t often work directly with mandalas with my clients, I continue to create them as a way to process the feelings stirred up in me by my work with them, and I encourage, in my clients, mandala-like activities such as dance, pottery, and drawing to help them organize the chaotic elements of their lives around their own still, calm centers.

More anon,
- David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC

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Hidden mentors

Hidden mentors

30,000′, Boston to Albuquerque
Copyright 2013 David J. Bookbinder

When I began the Flower Mandalas project, I was dimly aware that I had been influenced by the work of Harold Feinstein, with whom I had briefly studied. And I eventually figured out that Harold, in turn, had been influenced by Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings, and in particular by her book One Hundred Flowers. But what I had not understood until years later, when I visited the Abiquiu region of New Mexico, north of Santa Fe, was how pervasive her influence on me was.

I have been drawn to that part of the world on a deeply emotional as well as a visual level in ways unlike any I have previously experienced, and when I saw the mesas and mountains, even from the air on my first trip to New Mexico, I could not stop photographing them. It was only when I toured the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe on my second trip there that I saw how the landscape that had mesmerized me had also mesmerized her. For instance: Black Mesa Landscape.

Recently, I have also learned that O’Keeffe created a series of paintings that captured the bands of color of seascapes when she lived near Lake George, New York: Lake George, NY, by Georgia O’Keeffe. This, too, is a subject I have been drawn to for many years, and is the impetus behind a series of hundreds of sunrise photographs I took off the shore of Independence Park in Beverly, MA.

Independence_Park_II
Independence Park II
Copyright 2013 David J. Bookbinder

This has got me wondering whether our attraction to artists goes beyond a particular body of work to include their whole sensibility. Which has got me wondering about the artists among you. Has some kind of art — visual, performance, expressive — had a significant influence on you? Inquiring minds want to know….

More anon,
- David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC

Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas essays: WattPad
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Text and images © 2013, David J. Bookbinder. All rights reserved.
Permission required for publication. Images available for licensing.
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Art, for me: Part I

Art for me

30,000′, Boston to Albuquerque
Copyright 2013 David J. Bookbinder

Growing up, I was a kid scientist, apprehending my part of the cosmos through experiments first with magnets and electricity, soon thereafter with chemistry,  and by high school with electronics and model rockets. I identified math and science as my strengths, and my family and I both assumed I would grow up to be some kind of engineer; I hoped to work for NASA.

By the time I reached college, it became clear to me that I had grown up lopsided, my logical left brain dominating. The catalyst for realizing this was the poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, by William Blake, which I read in a freshman English class. “Those who restrain desire,” Blake wrote, “do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling. And being restrain’d it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.”

I had, I understood, been living the shadow of desire. I set about to change all that, and to the extent I have balanced left brain and right, art and science, I credit Blake with getting me started.

Has some kind of art — visual, performance, expressive — had a significant influence on you? Let us know!

More anon,
- David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC

Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas essays: WattPad
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Text and images © 2013, David J. Bookbinder. All rights reserved.
Permission required for publication. Images available for licensing.
flowermandalas.org

Stone Voices

Recently, a blog reader kindly recommended the magazine Stone Voices as a possible place for me to publish extracts from my upcoming book, Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas. I finally checked it out, and it seems to offer a unique take on art and spirituality. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

“STONE VOICES explores the many connections between art and spirituality. Its premise is that art has the capacity to touch the human spirit, awaken conditions for genuine healing, and enrich people’s lives with tremendous joy. Each issue of STONE VOICES includes art portfolios representing a diverse group of artists from around the world, as well as articles, essays, fiction, and poetry about art and spirituality. STONE VOICES is unlike any other publication produced today, and its readers praise its rich and relevant content as well as its magnificent presentation of art and its beautiful layout and design.”

And, a preview of their current issue: Fall, 2013 preview

Recommended!

More anon,
David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC

Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas essays: WattPad
Discussion: Facebook Flower Mandalas page
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Text and images © 2013, David J. Bookbinder. All rights reserved.
Permission required for publication. Images available for licensing.
flowermandalas.org

Previous Posts

Imagination and Reality
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posted 9:57:16pm Jan. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Help me choose the 4-5 best essays!
Dear Readers, I'm planning to enter an essay/memoir contest and need to choose 4-5 of the Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas essays from the 58 I've written so far. If any of you have particular essays you remember liking more than others, I'd love to hear about it, as I have no objectivity with them.

posted 10:43:51am Dec. 23, 2013 | read full post »

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Art of Healing Just a quick note to let you know about a new podcast on the Art of Healing by Bernie Siegel. The podcast comes to me through the Art and Healing Network. Here's a link to their current podcasts, including this new one by Dr. Siegel: The Art of Healing with Dr. Bernie Siegel More

posted 11:53:09am Dec. 19, 2013 | read full post »

Part III: Art and 'Madness' - Schizophrenic art
Works by schizophrenic artists Adolfi Wolfli (left) and Arthur Bispo do Rosario (right) Part III: Art and ‘Madness’ Schizophrenic art Copyright 2013, David J. Bookbinder Toward the end of the 19th century, the Romantic preoccupation with the idea that genius and madness were linked promp

posted 10:21:24am Dec. 16, 2013 | read full post »

Mandalas: Alexey Kljatov's snowflakes
"Snow Flower" by Alexey Kljatov. Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved. Mandalas: Alexey Kljatov's snowflakes Copyright 2013, David J. Bookbinder Just a quick note to let you know about the fascinating, mandala-like snowflake photographs of Alexey Kljatov. Using simple, inexpensive equ

posted 10:10:13am Dec. 02, 2013 | read full post »


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