Active prayer

Active Prayer – mixed media on player piano paper © Susan Carmen-Duffy 2019

There are many ways of expressing your heart. Some do it with words, some actions, some music. We each seem to carry worries and concerns with us. We also carry things we are grateful for, and things that inspire. For me, art is a very strong link to my emotions and spirituality. When I create art I bring the best of me to the surface. I feel spiritually balanced. Art heals my aching heart and celebrates my dearest joys.

Over twenty years ago. I discovered the art of Mandala. It was completely an accident. I was creating them without even knowing what I was actually doing. The irony lies in the fact that for me it was instinctual. It was something completely natural and had no basis in my usual exploration. Often I research a new idea nearly to death before attempting it. With this, I had the opportunity to draw beautiful circles using my husband’s drafting tools. I wasn’t really trying to accomplish much of anything. It was more that I had an opportunity. It was an exploration. For me it was a miracle. My exploration turned into an incredible experience. I felt directed and understood, I could breathe deeper. It felt like a miracle. I felt whole as I created. I felt connected. I felt empowered.

For me, the creation of Mandalas did not come from a book or research. It came from my heart. The first time I showed this work publically a friend I had made a few years prior asked how long I had been creating mandalas. She smiled at the recognition that I had no clue what she was speaking about. While I am embarrassed to admit I was completely unaware of this type of meditative prayer, I also see that for me there was a purity in my ignorance. I created a mandala because it felt right to do so. I only discovered the depth of this art when my friend advised me to go get the book, “Creating Mandala” (by Suzanne Fincher). I did so. It was the key to unlocking this art for me. It was an incredible gift.

It all fell into place for me. It was words to a prayer when I lacked the right words, it was a connection when I felt disconnected, it was honor, it was joy, it was love.

When my mother was still alive, she brought me to a gathering of monks creating a mandala out of sand. We sat quietly as they chanted and meditated. I sat breathless as they picked up their tools and began laying down tiny bits of sand to create these incredible large mandalas. My heart broke knowing that they would toss their work into the river, as it was a prayer not permanent.

Eventually. I understood. The power of mandala, the intent, the gift, is priceless to me.

“Meditation” Mixed media mandala on player piano paper
copyright Susan Carmen-Duffy 2019

I feel that meditation is key to calming our very busy lives. I tend to meditate actively, through drawing, mandalas, art in general. Since I have concentrated on doing so, I feel better, I rest more completely and my focus also seems to be a bit better. It is with this spirit that I offer workshops. I believe my expertise is really my open heart, not the hours I have spent reading and discovering this incredible art. Experience and education are important, but more so, I believe an open heart.

In a world that feels so turbulent, this feels vital for me. I have created mandalas as art, and I have created mandalas in sand. I find both exciting, both incredible. Both completely worthy of my efforts and passions. I encourage you to explore what makes your heart peaceful, what sustains you. For me, the creation of a mandala is an active prayer, a song without words, especially when I have one.

I wish you peace, I wish you joy, I wish you love,

Susan

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