Making a Flower Mandala

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“Each person’s life is like a mandala- a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life.” ~ Pema Chodron


I spent this past weekend resting, healing, reconnecting and weaning myself back onto my Lyme drugs. It has been a long time since I have gifted myself so much freedom to be in a space of deliberate contemplation and connection. But in honouring my Sacred Promise for 2014 it felt right to do so, and I know that I shall spend much more of my time in this space over the coming year.

As an act of meditation and offering I made a flower mandala in my back yard. Most simply explained, a mandala is a circle that represents wholeness, symbolising our relationship to the world around us and the one-ness, sacred nature and infinite connection of all things.

At the heart of my mandala I placed a large natural quartz crystal that I found many years ago in the dirt where a site was being levelled for a house to be built. I used the quartz crystal as a palace to represent and contain all of us – myself, the women who came on retreat with me, my writing sisters, my students and clients, family and friends, and all of you I have connected with through my work, my blog and my life.

This quartz anchors my intention that 2014 shall be a year where each of us is held in a place of love and nurture, allowing our highest possibilities and qualities to shine forth. It holds both a prayer and a blessing.

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The flowers and leaves that surround the crystal were all placed as an act of devotion and offering.

The purple flowers honour our spiritual nature, intuition, Divine Grace and connection to our own souls.

The red flowers symbolise physical strength, living with passion and being energised and well.

The pink flowers are for love. Love of self, and loving heart-centred relationships with others.

The green leaves are circles within circles – representing the many intersecting and discrete worlds we live in, our connection to nature, our psychic ability and our many dreams for ourselves and others.

The white and yellow flowers (frangipanis) are for wisdom, continued learning and unfolding, purity and clarity. They are also for laughter and joy.

I offer my mandala up to you, with my heart-felt love and best wishes.

As you can see, it is also a mandala appreciated by fairies and dogs.

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That’s Harry’s nose in the top right hand corner…2013-12-15 19.07.25

2013-12-15 19.10.12After all, what’s an act of devotion and love without a few laughs and a little fun as well?

Thinking of you and sending much love, Nicole xx

PS – I have SO missed cooking. Expect some yummy recipes over the next few days!


How to do Tonglen Meditation – a Beginner’s Guide

Heart Chakra image from Juicy*S

Heart Chakra image from Juicy*S

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” 
~ Charles Dickens

At times it is easy to feel small and insignificant – unable to help when all we feel in our hearts is an urge to try. When those we know are suffering, or when there is a catastrophe in another part of the world we might wonder what can be done.

There is something we can do. Meditate!

I first started practicing this meditation as a small girl – maybe three or four years of age.  No one taught me.  I just seemed to know what to do.  My baby sister was fidgeting and restless one night, tossing and turning in the bed beside mine as her teeth came through. I breathed in her fever and distress with every in-breath, and with every out-breath I imagined my breath covering her like a soft blanket, helping her to settle and be calm again.

My ‘magical breathing’ (as I thought of it) worked, and I’ve been doing it ever since, as part of my daily meditation practice.

Child meditating - image from

Child meditating – image from

It was not until I reached my thirties that I found out Tibetan Buddhists have a name for this type of meditation – they call it Tonglen. Tonglen is Tibetan for ‘giving and receiving’ and it is a beautiful and simple practice than anyone can do, with no experience.  What matters is your intent.

Sit or lie quietly, and close your eyes. I like to sit with my spine straight, and my hands together in my lap, thumb tips pressed lightly together. (Use the image of the Dalai Lama at the bottom of this page as a guide.)  If I’m lying in bed, I lie on my back with my hands crossed together over my heart. Try to sit if you can, but for those of you unwell or unable to do so, a prone meditation practice will still work.

Start by imagining someone that you want to help. It might be a friend with depression.  You breathe in the heaviness of their energy and suffering and breathe out joy and peace, or whatever other energy you feel would bring them comfort.

All you ever have to do is ‘breathe in’ the condition, emotion or suffering of another, making room for healing and comfort within them.  Then ‘breathe out’ positive energy, love and light to fill the space you have created.

The suffering of others is also our own suffering, so this meditation can help us as we endeavour to help others.  If you are in pain, breathe in your own pain and also the pain of everyone who is suffering from your affliction.  Breathe out relief to everyone, in whatever form feels most right to you.

Do not worry that the things you breathe in will become a part of you, further weighing you down. As you breathe in suffering it is transmuted back into light, and it dissipates harmlessly.

Sometimes you may not even have a word for what you are breathing it – it will simply be a feeling, a weightiness, a blackness or even a void.  Breathe out hope, lightness, joy and well-being.  Breathe out ease.

At times when we don’t know what else to do, this suffices. As you bring peace to others, you bring it also to yourself.  It is a very soothing and calming practice.  You don’t need to belong to any particular religion, or follow any particular spiritual philosophy.  This simple practice merely acknowledges that we are all human, all connected, and all the same – no matter who we are, or where we come from.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama says of Tonglen:

“Whether this meditation really helps others or not, it gives me peace of mind. Then I can be more effective, and the benefit is immense.”

Image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in meditation from

Image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in meditation from