Hi fellow magicians,
I am Kathleen but known to friends as Kathy, I live in beautiful rural North Wales and have lived here for the last 6 years with my husband. I previously lived by the sea in Kent and spent some years living in Brighton too. I am originally from Belgium where my family still live. I have an amazing daughter who lives in South Wales so I have the pleasure of travelling across Wales on a regular basis.
I have been a special education teacher for the last 24 years and currently work with sixth formers in an autistic specialist school.
In spite of the stresses, I love it and it almost feels like working with these learners and with unique colleagues is the blood that flows through my veins, ‘normal’ is not the norm!
I have followed a Buddhist path for many decades and relate the most to Eastern teachings, yet I have an appreciation of all spiritual paths. The cultural and art elements of each have so much richness. I love chanting and kirtans, they really make my soul sing! Self and spiritual development have always been at the core of my life; I love connecting with people on a deep level and am not very good at chitchat. I have trained in several alternative therapies over the years as part of this search for meaning.
I have always appreciated the arts but very much from a viewer’s perspective. Over the years I have enjoyed crafts and have made mosaics, clothes, crochet and knitting but never considered myself to be gifted as an artist.
In more recent years, I have been attracted to abstract art where it is up to the viewer to draw out the elements from it that speak to them personally and hold meaning. Unlike conventional art where the artist signposts you to what they want you to see in a depictive style. This was a significant shift in mindset and has liberated me to create what holds meaning for me, rather than being pressured into drawing accurately or realistically.
I discovered Mandala Magic during lockdown. My anxiety rocketed and life was just so limited. The activities and people that brought me joy could not be accessed, so being online was a lifeline. That is where I came across the free course that Julie was running, I just couldn’t get enough!
The content spoke to me straight away with the moon cycles, the sun mandala and all things celestial. When the opportunity arose to be part of Alignment, I already felt in tune.
Initially, I had to follow the prompts quite closely but as my confidence grew, I incorporated my own ideas.
I love the idea of the tension between the centre and the circumference.
Just as we have pushes and pulls in life, here we have this demonstrated visually. I think a lot and often find that my thoughts are bouncing around in my head like tennis balls at Wimbledon; having a way to let my hand and heart take some of the tension out of my head has been transformative. I really feel the benefit of ‘getting rid’ of some of the thoughts into a pleasing form.
I now regularly make time to remove ‘the stone in my shoe’ or take delight in ‘the itch I have to scratch’! It is like having a soothing drink when you have a sore throat feeling.
The cyclical nature of Alignment allows me to go deeper each time and with every revisit, I am gaining confidence to respond more personally to external or internal stimuli – this is a spiritual practice in itself.
I started off with a few simple supplies but have realised that buying art materials is quite an addictive process. One of my favourites is the watercolour pencil set as I can colour in small details without needing to commit to paint. Then I use a water brush to make it bright, it is so pleasing. Other than that, I have a cheap school compass.
My loft was just used to store a load of stuff, now it has been transformed into my special creative area.
I go up the ladder to it and use the space for art, meditation and reading. I call it my sanctuary. I can only just stand up in the middle and have to sit on a stool to draw or paint but it is perfect!
It is so easy to flop onto the sofa after a day at work and watch TV, not even consciously watching anything in particular. To have creative time in my sanctuary away from the TV has had such a positive effect on my mental and emotional state and on my sleep too.
I have struggled with the menopause for many years and although the physical symptoms are unpleasant, the mental battles are worse. I have come a long way on my journey to embracing my ‘crone’ phase of life.
My mandala practice has definitely helped me to explore and embrace my newfound traits and characteristics of this chapter; I would even go as far as saying I am loving some of them!
For me, it is about fostering greater awareness of the world around me. In nature, I look for patterns and symmetry; when I visit a church, I look for designs in architecture and stained glass; at an art gallery, I look for detail within a bigger piece. I have recently based several mandalas on the details of work by Hilma af Klint, an exhibition I visited at Tate Modern in London.
The Alignment programme and the community are like a compass to me; it gives me a true point of reference when I feel a bit lost or unmotivated.
To see so many people engaging on an intimate level with their mandala journey gives me a sense of ‘we’ rather than ‘me’, it’s as if there is a collective consciousness at play.
It’s all about the journey, not the destination.
The important part of me sharing with others is to have my journey witnessed and validated; a community full of accountability buddies! It has given me a sense of confidence to be vulnerable in front of others albeit online. The community is so kind and supportive, it really feels like a safe space.
I hope to continue to fill journals with meaningful mandalas, to lighten the load of the struggles and to share the celebrations of joy during my human journey. They are part of me, my insights and maybe some words of wisdom, all enshrined in journals. That thought warms my heart.
Thank you, Julie, for sharing this practice with us so that we can experience the world from a deeper and more creative perspective.