From a Crossed road to Your Inner Enso – The Self
Many times we find ourselves in a crossed road where we need to decide what way to choose. We see several options ahead of us and we try to analyze what’s the right one, the one that will lead us to where we want to be.
If we really narrow it down we will realize there are two main options we are considering. If we look a little closer, we will find that there are clear characteristics for each option.
One option is led by our Ego,
and the other is led by our Self.
There is no right or wrong, good or bad, just two major parts of ourselves asking to be dominant and influence our choices.
The whole being that is us, is composed of our Ego, our Self, our consciousness and our subconsciousness. The Ego is the center of our consciousness. The Self is the center of our whole being, so it’s the center of the conscious and the Ego and also the subconscious.
The Ego develops during the early years of our lives and shapes as we grow older. The Ego’s focus is the outside: communicating with other people, what others think about me, what society considers as prestigious or important, what makes me look good in the eyes of others, what will feel good when others will acknowledge it and also inner perceptions and believes that were shaped by society, for example, gender behavior, status behavior, origin beliefs and behaviors and so on. The Ego is the center of the conscious part of our being. Since the conscious have limited resources, the Ego’s resources are also limited.
Through our Self, we connect and can start communicating with our subconscious, which is connected to the collective subconscious. That is, we are all connected through the same collective subconscious, we can feel each other and receive messages that, if they go through the right channels, can become conscious and affect our daily lives. Because the self is the center of the subconscious, that has unlimited, endless recoursed – the Self has endless resources as well. It doesn’t get hurt, tired and overwhelmed like the Ego. The Self is submerged in love, knowledge, and wisdom, a sense of balance and joy of being, because that’s the energy that connects us all. Once we take off our society duties, our body as a vehicle to travel the earth, our Ego, and anything else that might separate us from others – we are connected to this endless abundance of energy. This doesn’t mean we can’t connect to it while we’re still alive. We can. We just need to learn how to access and use this energy field, that is available to all of us.
The crossroads are there to remind us we have a choice. We can keep living through the Ego, because this is what we know and it served us well thus far, or, we can go deeper. Many times, the call to go deeper doesn’t stop at the gentle whispers of the crossroads, but they appear as a full-blown crisis that leaves us no choice but to really consider a change.
The Ego keeps growing and taking shape pretty much until we hit the mid-life mark. The Ego is directly related to our body. Around our mid-life mark (for some of us much sooner, and for others much later) we start becoming aware that this body that carries us, will not last forever. We realize our body is no longer growing physically, that it’s starting to get old in some areas and the fact that we will not live forever – what once felt like a-too-far-to-worry-about-reality, now feels real and closer than before. We come to realize that this body that once felt like an incredible machine that always reinvents itself, has certain limitations. When people become aware of this sooner than others, it’s usually due to an illness, a serious injury or some other traumatic experience that opens their eyes to this reality. Seeing this reality, at whatever point in time, is usually experienced as a crisis: If that’s all there is, and this body will die one day, what does all of this mean? What am I here for? What are we all here for?
The solution to the crisis is always spiritual growth. If we sink into the body, into the Ego – we cannot rise from the crisis and it will shape the rest of our life. But this crisis holds the potential for a real transformation: If we find the way to rise spiritually, to realize that this crisis, this depression, is here so we can change our center of our being from the Ego – to a more balanced being with the Self as our center. This crisis is moving us from worrying only about our body – to body-soul balance when we nourish both aspects of our being, from an outward movement only to a constant inner listening. When this happens, we can finally start the real journey we are here for, the journey our soul came into this world to go through.
Even before the big mid-life-crisis (that may or may not come, depends on how you center yourself), if we look at how most of us go through life, we’re either all body or we are all soul. And the thing is, in this life, where we have both a body and a soul, we are necessarily both.
If we are too grounded in our body, we get depressed once something in the outside world makes us realize that our body won’t exist forever. The body is also a source of pleasure and joy, it’s the instrument we experience the world through, and through these experiences, we grow, learn, develop and evolve. The body is important, very important. Many times, people are able to enter a path of connection to the Self, through connecting to the body. Once we begin to nourish ourselves with good food, a positive environment, intimate touch and so on – we create the opening that allows a connection to the Self.
In the same way, the Ego is important, the world around us is real and we must learn how to communicate and live in it, but not at the expense of moving inwards and listening inwards. The same crisis that leads us to think about the meaning of life, what we have done well so far and what needs to change, is calling us, almost kicking us, to look elsewhere: the Ego is here and it’s strong but it’s not enough on its own anymore and we are called to start moving inwards, to the center of our being, our Self.
When our children are young, their Ego is not fully developed, thus, they have super easy access to the collective subconscious. Our children can feel us, sometimes better than we feel ourselves because they are connected to this collective energy field, and the Ego, that created a protective barrier – isn’t there yet. Why protective? because our conscious part of being is like an island in the middle of a huge sea. We can rest there. Yes, the water are food, and life, but as long as we are in our physical body, we also need the rest of the island. When we get scared – our children are terrified. They feel everything, but don’t have the ability to effectively disconnect. The way children handle this is by using the potential space. It’s a space between reality and fantasy, between conscious and subconscious – that allows them to play pretend, create art and feel empowered. They pretend to be more then they are now, so they can capture the feeling and grow into what they once pretended to be. As adults, we use this space to invent, create – we pretend something is already in reality, and then we bring it to reality. It’s the place where we are most creative. It’s also a resting place, we get to be whatever we want.
Many people go through their lives feeling empty, dissatisfied, always looking for meaning and how to become happy. People who sit in their life’s journey, with their Self as the center – no longer feel that way. They know they are exactly where they are supposed to be. It doesn’t mean they are always happy: the journey has stages and some of those steps are not easy. But while going through the hardship, you know deep down that the sun will rise again, and you will come out from the other side stronger, smarter, bigger emotionally and spiritually, ready for whatever this magnificent journey might bring your way.
That voice in people’s head telling them they Are not enough – it’s a voice telling them, there’s more of you. Find me. I’m waiting.
We are all here to learn lessons that our soul needs to learn to keep evolving. Look around you; none of the people around you are perfect. They are here to learn and develop, and therefore necessarily, they are on their own journey as well. Once we shift our center from Ego to Self – we invite our subconscious, that is nourished constantly by the collective subconscious – to start talking to us, guiding it, giving us messages to help us along the journey. With each cycle in this journey, we learn a lesson and grow.
Parts that we hid from ourselves are also in this subconscious; at first, they are very scary. They are scary because they speak the language of the subconscious, and when we do not yet understand this language, it overwhelms us. But fear not. They carry with them an important message for you, a message you need to receive in order to grow. Once those parts get a chance to communicate with us, give us their gifts – they lose their frightening qualities, and you feel and see that, in fact, they were on your side all the time.
The decisions we need to make every single day, the ones that are a crossroad we can narrow down to Ego vs. Self, are actually a “mini-crisis”, they are a calling into yourself to connect not only with the Ego, not only with the body but also with the soul and Self. It’s a calling to learn this inward movement that connects us to endless wisdom and deep inner knowledge. There is no right or wrong, but awareness of these dimensions allows you to see a wider picture, to feel new depths, and to be exposed to new possibilities that have always been there, but you could not see or touch them. Being able to move inwards reveals new dimensions within yourself that you did not know of before, powers that you did not think you had, and endless wisdom you were not able to access. Diving in doesn’t mean you abandon your body or stop using your Ego, it simply frees you from the one-dimensional use of them and allows you to use the three-dimensional existence of the Self and the Soul. It feels like realizing you were seeing the world through a 20 degrees angle, now, able to see 180 degrees and more at a time.
Enso state of being
Enso is a Zen circle of enlightenment in Buddhism.
“As a symbol, the circle expresses the totality of our being. Whether in sun worship ceremonies[YS1], in mythological stories, or in religious art, the circle points to the most vital aspect of our existence – its ultimate wholeness. Throughout the ages and in widely different cultures, from stone age communities to technologically advances societies, the circle has always evoked feelings of calm and completeness. In his commentaries on our collective unconscious, Carl Jung referred to the circle as the “archetype of the wholeness.” …In Tibetan Buddhism, there is the intricate practice of creating mandalas, circular representations of the universe and all of its aspects, used as a device for concentrating the mind..”
While Zen therapy focuses on the creation of the circle itself, with the Mandala we use the circle to help us focus and reach depths that are otherwise unavailable to us. We will use the Enso as a symbol for the state of mind we reach when practicing art inside of a circle, a Mandala. Finding our inner Enso means to find balance, harmony, enlightenment. At first, we work on the outside, on a paper, over time, we start to acknowledge that the Enso, the circle of enlightenment is inside of us and we can connect with it at any given time.
Even then, the Mandala can still be used as an elevator to the inside, a powerful meditation practice that helps you connect and unleash your true essence.
From the Mandala to our inner Enso
Mandala is a tool to receive messages and connect to our subconscious mind.
Simply put, a Mandala is a drawing inside a circle, that with specific guidelines, once you start drawing inside a circle, you enter a dream-like mode, powerful meditation, that enables your subconscious to start communicating with you, giving you exactly the message you currently need and ready to receive.
The Mandala is a symbol of our Self and by creating a Mandala we are basically opening the gate that allows this inner connection to ourselves.
The act of Art therapy inside a circle, creating a Mandala, calls upon an inner message to arise from our subconscious. This message is what our Self, our soul, deeper parts of ourselves, and sometimes – the collective subconscious as well, are asking to be released and addressed so we can progress and take another step in our growth journey. The messages come in a form of images, metaphors, stories, and segments that gives us a glimpse, a picture of what our inner-Self looks like right now and what we’re dealing with. The Mandala allows us to have a short conversation with our subconscious. The conversation is short and focused, but it allows for mental energy to be released and thus we are more open to receive the message and become conscious about it, opening the pathway for the next message, and the next one.
We don’t need to have any artistic talent to do Mandalas or know how to draw, all we need is to listen to what comes up to surface and give it some form of expression on the paper. Even if I felt a strong urge, or saw a clear vision of a bird, a person, a house or anything at all, and what I was able to put on paper is just a representation of the urge or the vision – you can complement your art with writing to have a more accurate message.
Carl Jung brought this way of therapy into our world by starting with years of Self-work through this method. Jung knew he doesn’t want people to see him as an artist and his Mandalas as works of art, because then, instead of focusing on the messages that arise with each Mandala session, he will focus on his Ego and what society might think of his creation. In order to focus on the Self, us too, must forget for a moment that the channel we are using is art, and understand it’s just a technical tool that helps us connect with ourselves, like an elevator to our subconscious. The esthetics of your work isn’t important, what’s important is the connection that it enables.
While the Mandala is indeed a message and not a form of art, when used in this way, many people can feel as if they have a precious treasure in their hands, after each Mandala is done. You know deep down, you got something meaningful, thus, in a way, placing the Mandala in higher importance than art. We get to experience the shift from Ego to Self right there and then. Our Mandala will not be viewed by society as something out of the ordinary (even though, we can all feel exactly what the message of the mandala means if we connect to that ability we all share), but we know it’s true meaning and importance, and that is all that matters. Other people who are skilled in this form of meditation will be able to see your treasure too. You are never really alone.
At first, we will need help and guidance to understand our Mandalas, interpret them and understand their meaning. Later on, this language, that we all naturally speak without being aware, will become a part of us and start showing itself in more ways in our lives. We will see messages in our everyday lives through a dream, ‘coincidences’ that will look random at first but will receive meaning in a second glance, and of course, through Mandalas, we’ll keep on creating, only this time, with a familiar feeling of inner knowledge that we’re about to receive because we simply need it so much right now.
After years of doing Mandalas, I feel today that I can meditate myself into the same state of mind and visualize the Mandala and receive what I need to receive. In a situation where I also need emotional release in order to accept the message, I will take the time to actually create the Mandala. But as we’re just beginning, we all need to release so much in order to start feeling ourselves again and connecting with our inner strength and knowledge, so letting the Mandala do its magic, is best.
At first, many abstract images and emotions will surface. Create as many Mandalas as you need, to release all these layers of protection that kept you away from feeling your true essence. After a while, a sense of balance will start rising. You might not feel it, or be aware of it, but all of a sudden – you will find yourself doing things you always wanted to do, but didn’t have the energy, or didn’t know how to start, or thought people will make fun of you. But now, oh now, now you’re centered, and can barely remember why you didn’t do this sooner.
After a while of abstract Mandalas, images will start appearing – that’s how you know you’re starting yo receive a message. Let them come. Don’t push away anything, even if you don’t like it at first.
The Mandala allows us to achieve inner balance. Our Self, our soul knows exactly what we need right now, and our subconscious is connected to and deriving from the endless wisdom of our collective subconscious. Diving into this connection, allows us to connect with endless strength and endless knowledge. Every Mandala we create is another step in a world of balance, wisdom, beauty and inner strength. Every time we release a message from our subconscious world, our conscious world if also affected. Up until the moment of your Mandala creation, everything was held inside, but once it’s released, the two worlds are a little more balanced, little by little. It’s important to explain the Mandala allows us to connect to the Self, the center of our being, the soul. But the Self is the center of everything we are at the moment, that includes our Egos and our bodies, so the messages we receive also include our actual current existence, so it’s a real step towards balance and not just diving into the spiritual world.
The Mandala is a gate to a world of chaos – the subconscious. The visual expression allows us to create order in a place of chaos, and thus restore our inner order. The boundaries of the circle, the Mandala keeps us safe while we dive into the unknown, where there are also parts of ourselves that might scare or repulse us. Because we feel safe, thanks to the effect of the circle we are able to dive and use our strength, our knowledge, and our wisdom. This connection, time after time, keeps proving to our consciousness that this really does exist. We slowly learn to use them better – use our inner strength, inner knowledge, and inner wisdom, and gradually we learn to use them with skill: we dive, we bring the message we currently need, release the energy that is ready to be released, connect with the endless love that connects all of us and return back to balance. It’s like we learn our way back home: we go out on journeys to learn and grow, knowing we can always find our way back home again. The Mandala restores the wholeness of the soul that we have lost. Once we know we can always find our way back home, to love and balance – we no longer fear this lack of wholeness if permanent, we know it’s just a part of our current journey, and once we learn our current lesson and grow – balance, love, and wholeness will be restored again, until our next journey.
Because the Mandala enables connection to the collective subconscious, diving into the power of the Mandala brings realizations and understandings that don’t only have to do with our own self-balance, but also balancing ourselves with other people, in relationships, meaningful connections, and our society that’s surrounding us on immediate and not so immediate circles. It allows us to understand other people better and deeper, so it also brings balance on a social and interpersonal level. Looking at someone else’s Mandala, even if we don’t have any knowledge or experience with translating Mandalas – gives us a subconscious understanding of that person, always from a loving perspective.
The Mandala is like a mental uterus. The uterus we were in before we were born, fed us, protected us and allowed us to grow and develop. Every time we dive to the Mandala we dive to receive nourishment, to feel protected and to feel a sense of true belonging – all of these are the right environment to grow spiritually and mentally. Staying in the dream-like mode that the Mandala allows us to be in, has a meditative effect that is calming. This dream-like mode is also centering and allows inner precision and organization. Unlike other tools that might bring “too much too soon”, and overwhelm us, the Mandala allows our subconscious, with its endless wisdom, to bring us exactly what our Self is ready to deal with at the moment, and needs to deal with. Later on, more will arrive, when we have more mental space to handle more because of the shift that occurred, the mental energy that was released and the fact that we’re stronger mentally thanks to previous processes with the Mandalas. We will receive exactly the message we’re able and ready to deal with, with great accuracy, every single time. The Mandala gives us our current inner “here and now”.
Taking the wheel of your life
People want to get to know themselves better. Many people go to psychics and mediums and are intrigued by someone who can read in their coffee, or even just read the horoscope on a website or find meaning in a fortune cookie. We might not fully believe in those things, but most of us are curious, even if just a little bit. We want to know. We want to get more information. Because we have the basic understanding and a sense of intuition about the fact that there is more to us, more then we can currently see, feel and touch. We know, on some level, that it’s there – the “more” part of us, but we are clueless about our own ability to reach it, touch it, understand it, use it and grow thanks to it.
Wherever and whenever I tell people about Mandala and the effect it has on people’s lives, people are amazed. Some jump right in, can’t wait for what they are about to discover. Others, “cannot find the time” to do it themselves. At first, they think I will tell them what to draw in the circle and then some magic will happen, but once they realize they are sitting in front of an empty circle and need to bring something from themselves (we all see something when faced with a Mandala), they are like, oh, wait, I don’t think I can do that. It seems like too much effort for an outcome they can’t really understand.
But once people actually do it, they look at it and say: “wow, I actually did that, that actually came out of me”. They are looking at the very proof that there is more to them. That they are the ones who are able to go inside and extract the information. That moment is mind-blowing (and I have to admit, I do enjoy experiencing it every single time). Because if I am able to talk to my subconscious, and if I am able to bring to my conscious the message that will currently help me, what else am I capable of, that I don’t know about? And why didn’t I do this sooner? And also, they are overwhelmed by the realization of how rich and deep and powerful they truly are.
We long for someone else to hold us, and take off some of the weight. Life is heavy, for everyone. Especially because we know it won’t last in this form endlessly. But the one thing that will change your life forever, and give you access to all of the “more” that you know hides inside of you – is the realization that you can do it yourself. You have the tools to help yourself. You have the strength to help yourself. You can indeed carry this weight because you have everything and more.
When I help and guide people, I don’t do the work for them. I cannot look inside of them and tell them what to draw. I do feel people. I can sit in my home, in the USA and think of a client in another country, and I know how they feel, I can see the next step in their journey. But, only the Mandala will show them what they are ready to see and release the energy needed to receive the message. So even when I “see” and feel and know – their inner world knows better and teaching them this fact will keep them strong and capable, knowing their true worth. I do guide, I do mirror what I see as a part of a connection. But the Mandala, meaning – their true essence will lead the way.
Yes, creating the Mandala takes some energy. We need to bring ourselves to do it. But once we do, and once we are faced with our creation, we realize we opened a channel that will always be there for us, whenever we need it. When I work with people and I help them understand their Mandalas, and when is the right time for them to create one, I keep hearing: “I feel different. That thing I used to obsess about – I don’t care about it anymore, it’s not as important as I once thought, that thing I used to fear and had me paralyzed – I am no longer afraid, I know I can handle it”. The Mandala work brings them to a sense of balance and perspective, and it’s not a passing feeling. Because they did the work, they went inside, using the Mandala and brought out the content that was waiting for them, they know the feeling, they know the way, and they know they can do it again. I taught them, but I didn’t do it for them, that’s why it’s a million times more stable than anything else.
When you’re driving to somewhere you never drove before – you are focused, you notice different things about the road that will help you identify it next time, and also let you know when you’re in this area. This is completely different when you’re in the driver’s seat vs. when someone else is driving. When someone else is driving, you kind of wonder off.. you think about other things, and it’s most likely you wouldn’t know how to drive to this place without navigation help next time. But when you are driving, you are much more involved with the process of getting there, so chances are – you won’t need navigation help next time. Yes, like a driving instructor, I teach people how to drive to their subconscious. But like a driving instructor, I am sitting next to them, while they are holding the wheel. If I was the one doing the driving all the time, they wouldn’t really learn. Actually – they would learn something. They would learn they need me. All the time. While it’s financially smart to do that, it’s morally wrong. Because they can do what I can do, they can drive, and they can dive inside and find everything they need at any given moment. No matter how tough life gets, they can regain balance, and find strength and reach the shore and return home where it is safe, and they are loved.
So like the Mandala, driving is an effort. It’s easier to let someone else drive. Just tell me what I need to know about myself. But next time you will have to deal with something similar – you will need me again, like the navigation system in your car, like a forever driving instructor. But if you drove there by yourself, if you did the work, you don’t only get to know another road by heart; you also get to trust yourself, that you can do it. You have been in this situation before, and you got out, you know the steps. That’s how you feel when you do Mandalas on a regular basis.
The most important thing about the Mandala is that it teaches us that we have the answers inside of us. And the more you practice Mandalas, the more you learn that it’s true. Rest assured that the mandala has a healing impact whether you interpret it or not. Any kind of meaning you find and bring from it, are bonus points. The mandala itself releases enough mental energy for you to be open to the world. So even if you’re not sure the message you brought is what the Mandala meant, it doesn’t matter, you’re still open enough to see the message as it will present to you in a different way. A dream, a coincidence, a neon sign flashing just as you stopped at a red light. Whatever it is, you’re balanced enough to know it’s for you, when it comes.
The Mandala brings not only where you are now, but also a solution – a way back to balance. I think that’s the most amazing thing about it. Yes, some highly emotional things can surface, but also the solution, the knowledge, the insight, the understanding. and as time passes and you gain experience, you go through life knowing deep down, you’re connected to this energy field, that got your back.
Life will happen, things will go wrong from time to time, but you know your way home. Yes, being held is easier, having someone else drive is less effort, but knowing you truly got this, that you always have you to count on, that you will find your way back home no matter what – that’s when fear stops. That’s when obsession stops, that’s when depression stops. That’s when you can truly start living your life. Because you got this. You’re in the driver’s seat, and you totally got this.
[YS1]Seo, A. Y. (2007). Ensō: Zen circles of enlightenment. Shambhala Publications. Page xi