A while back, I purchased Judith Cornell's Mandala Healing Kit. I had gotten stuck on lesson three of Clare Goodwin's "Making Meaning with the Mandala," as it had devolved into "facing my critic" and other exercises I had found cumbersome and annoying, and looking through a couple of Cornell's books made me decide to splurge during Borders Books' teacher discount days and get the kit.
The first lessons involved general explorations and the rudiments of shading with colored pencils (something I need to continue to practice), and I'm not going to bother posting any of those here, but I will say that they were useful as far as gaining familiarity with the medium. Cornell describes the process of creating a mandala as "painting with light" (she emphasizes this so much that I feel I should put "TM" after the words, as if she invented them), so all the paper in the kit is black, and we are encouraged to envision the pencils as light-pens that are extensions of our own sources of light-energy. If you can get past the '90s touchy-feeliness of that, though, the exercises are quite good.
I tried listening to the accompanying cd and it gave me a bad headache. If there were a way to get rid of the ENGLISH chanting and just keep the music, it would be great. But the relentless repetition of one phrase in English for 15 minutes without let-up, overpowering the lovely music, went from annoying to painful. Even the guinea pigs hated it! So I have set it aside.
This first mandala I called "healing heart." The assignment was to draw a mandala with colored pencils (the first few were just with white), starting from a strong, bright center, to heal myself of something. This mandala actually began upside-down from the way it ended up, with the white dot as the white-hot center of a fire, and a red dot sort of appeared, making a stylized yin-yang symbol. After a while, I noticed that an upside-down half of a heart was forming, so I flipped the picture and made the heart whole, thus completing the healing process as part of the mandala's creation. It gave me a good feeling to finish it. I like the way the first dot that I'd made and then erased looks rather like a reflection of the moon-dot at what is now the top - reminding me of my favorite Chinese poem, "Drinking with the Moon."
The other mandala I am posting here is called "Thank You For This Moment." (Once again, ignore the stupid dates, which I still haven't been able to fix or turn off.) The assignment was to create a mandala while being entirely mindful - that is, thinking of nothing but the mandala the entire time. It was quite a challenge, and precisely because I was trying to keep my mind tightly focused on the mandala, I found it slipping away to look at other things and had to keep pulling it back to the mandala. Great exercise! Writing the words as part of the design (if you click on it, you can see what an integral part of every section of the design they became!) helped a great deal.
The other thing I will say about The Mandala Healing Kit is that the materials she includes are of pretty high quality. The stencils are on good, heavy stock; the black paper is great; and the pencils (while TINY - the kit is expensive enough that the publisher didn't have to be so minchy with the size of the pencils!!!) are wonderful. The white pencil, in particular, is amazing. I need to write to Cornell & find out where I can get another one: it is the brightest white I've ever seen in a pencil! I went to Dick Blick to try to find one like it, as I've almost used it up (mine arrived broken, alas), and the closest I could come was a pastel stick, which I can't sharpen, of course.