Flower Mandalas

Flower Mandalas

Another Train

Another Train…
Recently, the song “Another Train,” by British balladeer Pete Morton, has been going through my head repeatedly, particularly the chorus:
“There’s another train, there always is. Maybe the next one is yours, step up and climb aboard… another train.”
I’ve always liked this song — its optimism about not only second chances, but third and fourth and fifth… a sequence of chances to get on another train if you’ve missed the one you thought you needed. The song seemed prophetic when I heard it on the radio the morning I was scheduled to see a client who had lost many things — his business, his health, his savings, many of his important relationships. I’d been working with him to find a new direction, and, through a variant of the “miracle question” exercise we’re using in the “Cultivating Creativity” group, we’d discovered that his internal flywheel, the thing that kept him going when the going was tough, was reading train magazines. Though it was probably a year before he’d even mentioned trains to me, he knew more about railroads than any person I can imagine who was not a historian of the subject. He’d been fascinated by them since boyhood and had never let up in his studies. His “next train” could, we realized, literally be a train or, more precisely, a job on the railroad.
After this realization, my client spent months trying to make connections with people in the railroad business. Several people he knew had some kind of rail transportation in their background — commuter rail, Amtrak, the subway system, marine rail. He pursued these connections.
More time passed, and gradually his enthusiasm began to wane. He grew despondent. Then a call to come for an interview came — when he was 2000 miles away, dealing with an ailing sibling. Had he blown his only chance? Had he missed his train — again? Was this whole idea of starting out in the railroad, in the midst of middle age, just a foolish pipedream?
I gave him a copy of the lyrics to “Another Train.” I talked about my own second chances, and those of friends and clients I have known. We brainstormed additional ways he could find his way into the railroad system. He left the session somewhat heartened, tentatively acknowledging that maybe “there’s another train, there always is,” and perhaps the next one could be his.
The following morning, I came into my office to a message from this client. He had, he said, good news. The railroad had called two hours after our session, and he was getting an interview for an available position the following week! When I saw him today, he said the interview went well, and he thought he had a good shot at the job. But he also had a backup plan, just in case. You guessed it — another train job for another railroad.
I’ve started to see that second chances are everywhere. In Hollywood, for instance, actors seem to be in every film that opens for a few years, and then many of them disappear, only to arrive on the scene some years later for another run. John Travolta and Jon Voigt come to mind, but there are many others. Their initial trains went off on a siding, but eventually another train came along, and they stepped up and climbed aboard.
In my own life, I’ve come to see the value of the “Another Train” philosophy. I now see losses not so much as tragedies but as unexpected forks in the road. Relationships, jobs, other “lost” opportunities are also opportunities, one door closing so another one can open. Photography disappeared for 20 years, but when I picked up a camera again it returned with freshness and vibrancy. Writing has come and gone many times. I have a strong fathering instinct, but have no children of my own. That fathering instinct, however, has come into play many times with the clients I work with, many of whom need a kind of re-parenting. The next train for them is me, the good parent figure. The next train for me is them, the child — often in an adult’s body — who needs a good father.
Loss, now, is followed by a period of mourning for what was lost and for what I imagined would be yet to come, and then by an absence of regret. There’s another train, I tell myself. And, in one form or another, there always is.
What inspires you to get up and climb aboard? When, in your life, have you found another train?
More anon,
- David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC
Another Train
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Cultivating Creativity group
Flower Mandalas Project group

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© 2008, David J. Bookbinder

Painting Mandalas: Ofira Oriel

Mandalas by Ofira Oriel
Ofira Oriel is an Israeli artist and teacher. She is a graduate of Hadassah College in Jerusalem and of the Ramat Hasharon Seminary for Teachers of Art. She also has a degree in Education for children with special needs and eighteen years of experience in the field.
Ofira has studied numerous healing and spiritual arts, including Kabbalah, Jewish Meditation, Reiki, Healing through colors, Shamanism, and Bach Flower Therapy.
Her current focus is on the connection between painting and healing, and she leads seminars and workshops on these subjects. Here, she writes about her work in mandala painting, illustrated above.
e-mail: ofira@oriel-o.com
Website: http://www.oriel-o.com
More Mandala Paintings:
Painting Mandalas: Ofira Oriel
Painting Mandalas: Healing and Personal Development
Several years ago I went through a crisis, as a result of which I returned to painting, after a long hiatus.
I began all the paintings I made by looking for the central point on the canvas. I then described circles around that point. The circles created various shapes, such as bouquets, round ponds, the sun, and the moon. These became the center of the picture. I added different images around the center in a balanced and symmetrical way.
At the time I didn’t understand why I was obsessively repeating the same structure. At a certain stage that structure reminded me of paintings of mandalas which I had seen in Nepal many years ago. In the process of looking for material on the mandala I met Hava Bat Haim, a teacher of painting, a researcher in the field of children’s painting, and a leader of mandala painting workshops. With her help I understood that what I had been doing was part of a process of healing myself. Intuitively I was painting mandalic structures which helped me to concentrate and to experience the relaxing feeling of order and equilibrium within me. Since that time I have been studying the subject of the mandala.
We know of mandala paintings primarily from India and Tibet. From there the name of this structure has reached the west. Paintings with a mandalic structure have appeared, however, in various cultures throughout history, and the philosophical idea behind them is identical in all of them. The mandalic structure appears (with different names) in American Indian culture, in the culture of the Australian aborigine, in that of the Celts, and the Aztecs, and others. They appear in religious symbols. They appear in children’s paintings as part of the child’s natural development in his painting. They appear in nature in a large variety of forms. They appear in Carl jung’s theory, as part of his concept of therapy.
Temples in different cultures are built as mandalic structures. The holy temple in Jerusalem had a similar structure. Walking within it led us from the external to the internal, to the center of the temple, to the Holy of Holies. The central point of the mandala is parallel in the soul of man to the “spark of the soul” or, in the language of Hassidism, “the internal point.”
In the Book of Exodus is written, “Build me a temple and I shall dwell therein.” The temple, like a mandala, is perceived as the inner temple which exists in every one of us. Jung maintained that the mandala symbol describes the human soul. That same, central point symbolizes the self. Our central point is the function which is responsible for the integration of the varied and opposing forces in the human soul.
In the Zohar is written, “There exists no circle in the world which is not made from within a single point which is located in the center…and this point, which is located in the center, receives all the light, illuminates the body, and all is enlightened.” (Tishbi, Vol.1:247).
The English researcher Herbert Reid demonstrated that children draw mandalic designs spontaneously when asked to draw harmony and balance. He saw this as proof that the mandala is a basic form extant in the human soul. In so doing he sided with Jung’s opinion that the mandala is an archetypical form, whose source is in the depths of the human soul, and has forever been so. For that reason, mandala painting is called organic painting; a painting which springs from within the organism itself.
Mandala painting is intuitive painting. The center of the mandala is parallel to our own center; the one from which we come, and to which we will return. The process of painting enables us to contemplate ourselves. The manner in which the pencil moves on the paper reflects the way we move through reality. At the same time, it allows us to link up with the forces and abilities buried deep within our souls, and to bring them forth into the light. We enable ourselves to tap into the wavelengths we need by means of the link to colors, lines, and forms. This linkage in the structure of the mandala creates the feeling of balance.
According to the holistic approach, the creation of balance means healing.
Ofira Oriel, painter
© 2008, Ofira Oriel

Cultivating Creativity — New Group Announcement!

Beach Rose III
I’ve created a new group designed to foster creativity in your lives and I’m inviting you to join, and to ask you to invite anyone you know who may be interested in enhancing the creative parts of their lives to join, too.
Earlier this week, I did a workshop with about 20 local folks who all wanted to build more creativity into their lives. Some were already artists of some sort, some had done a lot of creative work in the past but had left it behind years ago, and others just had a recollection of being creative when they were young and a yearning for that part of themselves to come back. The workshop was very alive and seemed to me to be really successful. I think it has already jump-started a few people and that good things are yet to come.
In that spirit, I created a Beliefnet group to try to get the same thing to happen here in cyberspace. The group, Cultivating Creativity, is designed to provide a safe, supportive, and encouraging — yet stimulating and challenging — environment for its members to cultivate their creative selves. Its basic framework is to use a series of questions to help people help each other do that:
1. Identify the problems in your creative life
2. Imagine what your creative life will be like when those problems no longer exist
3. Determine what parts of this ideal are already there
4. Discover how to move, in a step-by-step fashion, to making the ideal a reality.
It will, I hope, use the power of the group to propel its members forward, within this framework.
The group is an experiment. I’m able to help groups of people do this in the “real world,” and it will be interesting to see how much can happen, and how it can happen, here in cyberspace.
The first step is for anyone interested to start his or her own post in this group. Begin the post with a short description of yourself, then start complaining! Identify, for the rest of us, issues you have or problems you are facing as a creative person.
Then, following the framework outlined in the post entitled The ‘Miracle Question,’ write your miracle, and share it with at least one other group member by inviting that group member to respond to your miracle, in the thread that you have created. You, in turn, will respond to that person’s miracle in their thread. The two of you become “miracle partners.” Others can — and, I hope, will — join in to help you make your miracle a reality.
Once you and your “miracle partner” have shared your miracles in your respective posts, identify how much of the miracle is already there, even a little bit, in your lives. Write this up in your post’s thread, too.
Next, also in your thread, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, where “1″ is you are as far from your creative life miracle as you have ever been, and “10″ is you are solidly in it. Share this, too, with your “miracle partner” from the previous step.
Finally, with the help of your partner, come up with an experiment that will move you a little closer to the miracle. Choose something that you are sure you are willing to do, but something that also breaks some new ground.
When you’ve done the step, report back to your thread and let us know what you did, how it went and how it affected your 1 – 10 score.
After that, it’s a matter of getting the support of your partner and the group, and coming up with a new experiment that moves you one step closer to your miracle, and reporting back.
As they say in the Hair Club for Men ads, I’m not only the leader, I’m also a member, so I’ll be posting my miracle in the group soon, and I’m as interested in anyone else in getting help working toward my miracle.
In your posts, I suggest you identify your thread with your Beliefnet name, followed by whatever else you’d like to add to identify the purpose of the thread.
Now, as Maurice Sendak said in “Where the Wild Things Are,” let the rumpus begin!
NOTE: This is primarily a group for people who want to actively work on their creative selves and want to team up with others doing the same. So, when you sign up, sign up to post, and to help others with their process, not only to read what others are doing!
More anon,
Cultivating Creativity group
The ‘Miracle Question’
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Flower Mandalas Project group

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© 2008, David J. Bookbinder

Shades of Gray: Addendum

Rhododendron ‘Ponticum Roseum II’
Click here to pop up the original full-color image
An Addendum to ‘Black and White Thinking’ in Shades of Gray
By ‘shades of gray,’ in my previous post, I’m thinking like a black-and-white photographer, whose images can actually display up to thousands of discrete shades of gray (including many variants of gray — silver-toned, blue-toned, brown-toned, warm-toned, cold-toned, etc), selected from a technically infinite number between pure blacks and whites. I’m thinking of those “boring grays,” as some may characterize the color gray, instead as the architecture of thoughts, feelings, ideas, and of course of works of art, not as a uniform color-that-is-no-color. In my work with clients, for example, I’m starting to see this architecture as the complex intersection of genetics, environment, experience, and soul that makes them who they truly are, the interplay of all these inheritances and forces beneath the more apparent “colors” of their appearance, social status, and immediate presentation. I’m just starting to think about this, but I believe it has wide application in the ways I function everywhere in my life, and most likely in the ways we all function.
Of course, that then makes me curious about the role in all these things that color plays. I think there is an equally complex and rich way to think about that, and that thinking about these things — intensities and shades of color, varieties and shades of gray — separately for a while will ultimately result in a richer understanding of how they work together to create a whole.
Any thoughts on this are both welcome and appreicated.
- David
‘Black and White Thinking’ in Shades of Gray
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Flower Mandalas Project group

Request a flower mandala screensaver: Fifteen Flower Mandalas
© 2008, David J. Bookbinder

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