The Mandala Project
The Mandala Project
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The Mandala Project’s mission is to elevate individual and collective social-emotional well-being, build connected community, encourage creative and inclusive engagement, and enhance professional work-life balance in high-stakes, performance-based professions. Our design thinking processes are iterative, flexible and focused on effective communication and collaboration between designers and service-users, with an emphasis on bringing ideas to life based on how real users think, feel and behave.
The mandala symbolizes the universe, cosmic consciousness, a movement towards entropy with the understanding that life quivers “in rhythmic fragments” in the sphere of our awareness. We cannot undo the past but we can forge our Present-Now. And while we do not get to predict the inevitabilities of being human and what comes next, we do have some say in the Future-Now by how we choose to BE Here and Now. The mandala suggests ownership – that we each assume responsibility for showing up to do our very own work; AND, that we assume responsibility for our collective well-being, commensurate with our oppression or our privilege, through our commitment to inclusion and equity.
Why Am I Here?
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We venture the perspective that when any physical system fails to thrive–whether it be a biological system or a political system or a social system–it falters because it is out of alignment with its most foundational elements. When we are caught up in bubbles of outdated paradigms and principles, and exist in separation from one another rather than in connection, we rob ourselves of opportunities to come together in healing and in wholeness. We can work individually to dissolve our respective ignorance and collectively to take actions to shift and break down the skeletal scaffolding upon which systemic racism to the benefit of white Americans and the oppression of black, brown, indigenous, and people of color has been built. We can begin to build back social-emotional capital by having the simple, authentic and transparent conversations that we need to sustain the kind of energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued.
Nicole & The Mandala Community
- CURIOSITY. What’s all the hype about yoga anyway? You may believe it is about gaining flexibility, getting stronger, managing stress, enhancing health, living a happier more holistic life…This is all true, but these are the side-effects of bringing your attention to your breath, your mind into synergy with your body, your consciousness to your thoughts, speech and way of being in the world. Your curiosity about yoga opens the door to healing on all levels—soul, heart, and the physical body all of which express the ways in which we are out of sync with ourselves. You are not beholden to any particular stylistic approach to this practice. Decide what your personal and financial investment point will be and run with it. This is your commitment to yourself. Feel the power in that.
- EXPERIENCE. You keep hearing how transformative yoga is. The split second this thought permeates your consciousness is the time to dive in – do not think! The mind gets in the way of the heart. Fear is a contraption of the mind to keep you limited in your life, even when there are inevitabilities to be afraid of; and life is only ‘busy’ if you choose that to be how you define it for yourself. Yoga empowers you to act and manifest.
- RITUAL. Yoga is more than mere routine. It’s about establishing new habits to replace the ones that no longer serve you. And carving out new ways of doing things requires ritual, because this is what brings meaning to your life and shifts the belief systems underlying negative patterning. First you have to see the suffering, the substance of that which gets in your way and shortchanges you on the merriment and joys of life: Notice the injury, the trauma, the tragedy, the strife, the narratives and beliefs that have limited your experience of yourself. In the hands of a trauma-sensitive guide, yoga allows you to touch the hurt, gently, with friendliness and curiosity and, with time, to transform its rough, fearsome edges into something steady and known. Just as painful habits take time to unravel, it takes time to rewire the brain to a new way of perceiving and thinking about things…In this way, yoga works from the inside out to change behaviors and physical reactivity.
- RELAX. Contraction is how your body protects you from all the hurt you have suffered, the negative energy around you, and the stuff of life you don’t see coming. Yoga has a way of showing you how much tension your body holds and where it holds it. So first, you learn to soften the tightness in your body, the bonds of muscular tension and myofascial rigidity. This begins the process of freeing up communication between your body, cells and tissues and the brain, also known as the somatic nervous system. Engaging your consciousness in the process of shifting physical tension engages the motherboard of the brain, the central nervous system, and you become aware of the mental strain, the emotional resistances, and the anxiety that comes from the content of your thoughts. Lean into the sensitivities of your heart. Feel into the points of tension in your body. Yoga will teach you to shift your dynamic from thinking to feeling, from over-rationalization to creativity, from ‘doing’ to ‘being’, from the stress response (flight, flight, freeze) to the relaxation response (letting go). This is what it means to relax. And in this place of relaxation the body heals itself.
- SPACE. “I’m too busy.” “Life is crazy right now.” “Yoga is so White.” “Yoga is not for me.” “I can’t afford yoga.” We choose this by continuing to think it and by saying it out loud, repetitively and continuously. Yoga teaches you to shift your attention breath by breath, movement by movement, thought by thought. All it takes is one, single, conscious breath to shift the dynamic away from reactivity to pause. In that one breath, you create the space to not react, to notice your inner dialogue. Over time, you begin to see your thoughts and experience situations with more clarity and less reactivity. How much do you want that for yourself, in your life?
- HAPPINESS. Make everything you think, say and do matter. The key to contentment and peace is to invest time and energy in getting to know yourself on all levels, the same way you invest in the stock market, or raising your children. Why would we not invest the same level of care, resources, energy and time in ourselves, knowing that this is the path to our own salvation? If we can learn to listen in on ourselves, then maybe we will begin to hear what others are saying. Then we can ask, “How may I serve?”