I’ve had to “yin-ify” lately. As some of you know, I’ve been working with a spiritual teacher called “concussion.” Generally, my mode of operation is to use the power of my intellect to get through – and that has not been possible. Every time, I think I have it figured out – how much is too much; I find a new challenge. What I previously thought was true, I find is no longer, and a new reality or symptom is present or maybe I’m now aware because a louder one has dissipated. Regardless, I am a stranger in a strange land.
Tibetan Buddhist monks have a beautiful metaphor that demonstrates how nothing is permanent and loss and change are inherent in our lives – Sand Mandalas.
“To bring home the impermanent nature of everything in our lives, Tibetan Buddhist monks create complex artistic creations out of colored sand and then destroy them. Mandalas (Sanskrit for “circle”) are colorful designs that can symbolize different things – the human body, divine realms, or meditational deities. They can symbolize specific aspects of the body, images for visualization, or entire universes. In Tibetan Buddhist rituals, monks painstakingly assemble mandalas, arranging sand, grain by grain, in intricate, symmetrical designs. As the monks make a mandala, lamas present spiritual teachings about specific meditational practices related to that mandala. After a few days, while chanting solemnly, the monks sweep up the mandala into a pile of jumbled colored sand, which is then offered to a river or the sea. The intricate universe of the mandala disappears and dissolves into a mixture of colored particles, leaving behind no trace of the design. What was once an elaborate representation of the complexity and potential of our lives becomes a lesson in impermanence.
In many ways, these mandalas symbolize what happens to all of our relationships and experiences, and ultimately to all of our lives. No matter how intricate, complex, or beautiful they are, all of our experiences are temporary. There is nothing that exists that we cannot cherish and therefore grieve when it is lost. In the practice of mindfulness and mindful activities, even each exhalation can teach us how universal loss and change are. Each breath that we exhale is an ending, which is followed quickly by a new inhalation—a new beginning—and the cycle repeats over and over again. Our lives depend on the cycle of loss and regeneration that is evident in our very breath.”
~excerpt from Grieving Mindfully by Sameet M. Kumar, PH.D.
As I review the blog I’ve just typed and adjusted the letter switches that have been happening since I hit my head, I take a deep inhale and exhale and realize this too shall pass and all abilities will return only to be lost again to something else some day? I ask myself, can I breathe through the cycles of each moment? Can I be present with what arises? I take the time to do a short meditation. OK, maybe I can.
I found this beautiful video that shows a sand mandala dissolution ceremony:
Come create mandalas in the sand of Costa Rica . . .
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