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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
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I have a "friend" who shows up once a month. She turns my world upside down, over and over again.
I am a good person, caring and sweet, but when she comes to visit, I could rip off your head.
She takes no prisoners, foul words she does spout, I try to keep the words in, she lets them come out.
People don't understand me, or what this is about, to have this creature inside my head.
I despise who I am, half of the time, I feel sorry for my daughter, family and friends.
There's no way to describe it, for those who don't know, it's a living nightmare, she really needs to go.
~Neysia Manor, Rest in Peace

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Mandalas Helped Me Cope With PMDD, by Cat Stone


Today Cat Stone returns to guest blog about Mandalas and how they have helped her cope with PMDD. Since I have yet to master the art of inserting pictures into my blog, and trying will keep me here all day, I have posted them off to the side for you to enjoy. Thank you, Cat, for sharing your art with us.

I can't remember when I first became aware of mandalas.

As a teen I was always interested in the esoteric and other faiths and cultures, but it was probably around the age of 19, when I began following a pagan path, that I began to learn about the circle, the quarters, symbolism, colours... Along my path, I found a branch that fitted my specific beliefs. It was witchcraft. I worked in ritual with covens, I worked solitary, I studied, I practised, I meditated. I have suffered with PMDD since I was 13, and life has always been difficult. Being active in the Pagan scene gave me somewhere to belong, and something else to focus on.

Meditation became an big interest of mine, as my mind was always full of swirly thoughts and ideas, that and my body being filled with false feelings and tension. I found it very hard to meditate, just sitting still, and joined a meditation class. We tried lots of different ways to meditate, and the most success I had, was with a moving meditation, or mudra meditation.

During the pregnancy of my first child at 21, my PMDD became very bad, contrary to the idea that pregnancy brings relief to PMDD, for me, my changing hormones threw me into severe depression, agrophobia, anxiety and panic attacks. Mixed up with post natal depression, and my marriage breaking up when my daughter was 3 years old, I found myself homeless. I had left the Witches behind, choosing to follow my own path, one that wasn't full of fear and hierarchy. I studied The Tarot and developed even more interest into the symbols, colours and correspondences of the cards

It was then that I began to draw my own mandalas. About 11 years ago, I bought a Tibetan mandala print, and began to research them more. I had opened up a whole new world.

As an artist, I had studied art and art theory since school. I had qualifications in Art and Graphic Design. But with everything that had happened to me, and the PMDD worsening, I had been unable to create anything. My research into mandalas spurred off a frenzy of creation. At first, my mandalas weren't geometric, they were just drawings in a circle, but the fact I HAD created was the buzz.

(See the Orange Eye, Dance, and Stars Mandalas, off to the side)

It didn't take long before I started using a ruler and protractor and began dividing the circle. Division and geometric designs take you into the realms of sacred geometry, and designs that repeat themselves lend themselves to meditation very well, during the creation and the colouring in.

(See the Medley and Universe Mandalas)

At college, I did a project on repetition, and I began to look into mantras and chanting. Repeating something over and over, such as the word OM, brings about a calm to the mind. It stops the mind from stressing by letting it focus on the sound, and sound that promotes healing. I became aware that that was what I was doing with the mandalas. In hand drawing, you have to repeat the same pattern or shape over and over.. in the colouring, your have to think about each shape you colour in.

It is like a moving meditation. For about 2 years, I drew nothing but mandalas. I drew them when I needed to have a focus, when I needed to escape what was going on around and inside me. I ended up drawing them as wedding presents, birth mandalas, and gifts.

My love for them has never waned. I have recently come out of a long dark period of my life, caused mainly by trying different hormone medications, and my ability to draw had completely vanished again. Thankfully, after a long and very missed break, my inspiration has returned. I still find it hard to draw during the really bad times, but I'm already creating more than I have for the whole of last year!

The best way to start, is to print off a free mandala design from the net. I have recently started a Moon Mandala Group on Facebook, and download page on my website, where you can regularly download new and original mandalas, created by me, using the inspiration of the current moon signs. There will be info about the full and new moons, and mandalas to download. The Facebook group is there for you to upload your creation and share with the rest of the mandala loving world! I also upload other mandala designs to colour in between new and full moons.

Once you have your mandala, find a quiet place, alone, with your favourite music. If this is impossible, just sit in front of the TV, you'll soon tune out of that and into your page.

Buy yourself some nice colouring pencils. I use Prismacolor, but there are other really nice makes out there. They are gonna be adult pencils, so spend a little more than you normally would. The results will be worth it! If you prefer colour felt tips.. get a big set with all the colours of the rainbow! If you've got kids.. mark them 'Mummys' and keep them out of their reach!

Sit with your mandala, and choose a colour. Pick a part of the mandala to colour, and get going. It's that simple. Grown up colouring. The next colour will almost choose itself, and if you start getting fretful over how it's turning out, just walk away, go make a cuppa, and relax. Its a colouring sheet. There is NOTHING to stress over. Even if you completed it and hated the colours you used, you can throw it in the bin, tear it up... print off another one and start again, or leave it till another day.

There should never be any worries or stress over creating a mandala, it's just for fun. You cant just click your fingers and meditate, not without years of practice, so you will find there will be times it flows and times when it's just not a good time to be trying.

It's good to date your mandala and note any particular feelings or thoughts you may have. Put it up somewhere, and keep looking at it. This mandala, represents your ability to focus, choose, make decisions, your stamina and attention, and your ability to see something through to the end. When you suffer from PMDD it is easy to feel like you cant make any decisions, it is easy to feel scared of starting things, and rare to feel like we have achieved something and seen it through. The ups and downs leave us feeling tired, stressed out, unable to relax or sleep. Using mandalas to quieten the mind, focus thoughts and relax our bodies can in turn help with our general stress levels. You can turn to a mandala when you have that urge to do something but you don't know what, or when you're bored and feeling lonely.

Mandalas, can help women deal with the many facets of her life. Mother, wife, daughter, sister, lover, friend, bill payer, money earner... it is hard to juggle all this, especially hard when you suffer with PMDD. The calm and peace creating mandalas can bring will help you to discover who you are, what you really feel about things, or even develop more self confidence.

(See the Goddess Mandala)

I have found that many ladies with PMDD are also very creative and have various ways of occupying their minds, from knitting to baking, photography to poetry. I hope that other sufferers of PMDD will give it a try and see if it helps!

You can find all my mandalas at www.chaoticat.com and all my PMDD artwork and blog at www.meetmypmdd.blospot.com.

Cat Stone

5 comments:

  1. Cat, your mandalas are gorgeous. I can understand the colors make you peaceful.

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  2. Cat, ditto - your mandalas are beautiful. I was really drawn to the Universe mandalas and I can see where they would sooth you your mind and allow you to express yourself.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Smiles
    Steph

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  3. how lovely. I enjoyed looking at each mandala. Very different and very eye catching.

    Maggie

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  4. I'm late here, but I'm truly enjoying your articles. I'm wondering about the effect of mandalas on ADHD, because of the focus and calming factors. I've joined your FB group. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post! I want to see a follow up to this topic

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