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 Join the circle, where meditation meets creativity, and let the magic unfold.

Intricate mandala art mirror in various hues of blue and gold. Meditation art.

‘Seashore’ Mandala by Cheryl

January, 25, 2024.

A day of note for many – the first payslip of the year. Christmas, a month ago today, is a faded memory. A Wolf Moon.

I meet with mandala artist, Cheryl Harte in Póg, Howth. The café hums with the lively bustle of locals and visitors, providing the backdrop to our chat about meditation, creativity, and the kaleidoscopic world of mandala art.

I’ve spoken to Cheryl before about meditation and I’ve seen her creativity evolve so I was curious to know if meditation was the catalyst for her to explore her creative side, or did the muse that many artists refer to, led her to a meditative art form.

We order, settle in and, going old school, I take out my pen and notebook, which by chance has a crescent moon of Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the cover.

‘Before we start,’ I say ‘How’s the romance going?’

I know Cheryl met a sweet soul some time ago.

‘It’s twenty-four moons ago today!’, Cheryl says, explaining that today is a full moon and their first date was at, Moonstock, an open full moon meditation on Portmarnock beach. Her now boyfriend had suggested they go together.

‘We’re going tonight. It’s next month by date since our first date, two years ago but today is our twenty-fourth moon together.’

I like this guy already. His take on romance, overriding the commercialisation of St. Valentine’s Day nudges the long-dormant romantic in me, awake.

                                                                                                 Serendipity 

‘It’s funny really that we’re meeting today, talking about the meditation journey and creative process, when this is when I’d pinpoint the shift in myself two years ago. Moonstock had small beginnings then. Now whole families, dogs included, gather on the beach and we all meditate together,’ Cheryl says.

                                                                  Meditation takes many different forms.

I first began to teach mantra meditation in 2007 after being lucky enough to be trained by Deepak Chopra and his team, led by davidji. Many might explore meditation to help reduce anxiety and manage stress, which I believe are positive side effects. Meditation at its core is a conduit for getting to know yourself. When you can sit comfortably with yourself, and quiet the thoughts, the inner critic, an innate sense of trust takes seed. Nurture the seed of self-trust, and self-esteem and that seed grows roots, eventually peeking out from the dark soil, growing towards the sunlight.  

‘Moonstock introduced me to the Wim Hoff breathing method,’ Cheryl continues, ‘I downloaded their app. At first, I found it difficult but with practice it got easier until I didn’t need the app to practice the breathing in the morning and evening. I found doing the breathing exercises in the evening helped me get a deep, restful sleep.’

As we sip our coffees, we unravel the intricacies of meditation, exploring its various forms – from Hinduism to Buddhism, from Sanskrit to Ayurveda.

‘Your work is so intricate. In such a fast-paced world it’s hard to fathom slowing to the pace and precision to place each dot or stroke by hand,’ I say.

‘When I’m at markets, people will often look at the mandalas, pass by, then come back a few times, getting drawn further into the pattern each time. The question is often, ‘You do that by hand? How long does it take!’ The second part of that question is more of a statement, ’ Cheryl continues. ‘Some might think relaxation is spending three hours a night watching TV. For me, my downtime is three hours working on a pattern. It grounds me. My thoughts melt away and my focus is on each contact of my hand, the medium, and the board. I’m completely present. I’m not thinking about the destination. I’m enjoying the journey. When I put the pen down, that process carries on to restful sleep and into my daily life.’

                                                                                                      Connecting 

Listening, I’m reminded of meditations I’ve taught to both children and adults. Either using the image of a Shri Yantra or a simple guided visualisation, reflecting inward, then observing our bodies and surroundings. Gradually expanding to the world and universe that we are connected to. While meditation, whichever one you choose may seem solitary and self-reflective, it also connects us. Everything stems from an atom, a single cell. Circular patterns, from a rock to a snail’s shell.

Attractive young woman wearing blue hued scarf and tan jacket with blue sky background. Meditation art on the scarf.

Cheryl wearing ‘Daydreamer’ scarf

‘What about colour?’ I ask, ‘I find certain colour combinations visually appealing, healing even.’

‘Yes, I agree. I love the coastal colours – the shades of sea and sand. I’ve noticed since I started painting that colours in nature appear more vibrant. I’ll often say, “Oh wow, look at that colour!” As we’re going for a walk or passing something as simple as a shrub. Something I wouldn’t have noticed before.’

I laugh, I do the same thing. I’m particularly drawn to moss growing in the local woodlands.

‘When it comes to mental well-being, I feel it’s important people, recognise what they’re drawn to, what they’re likely to stick with, practice – something that ignites joy. What would you say to someone who feels they’re not creative enough or can’t slow down or sit still?’ I ask.

Cheryl considers this. ‘If we can quiet the inner critic and trust the process rather than rush to the finish line, we get to know ourselves and live a more fulfilled life. I look back at the first mandalas I made and I thought they were dreadful. Yet, someone else thought they were beautiful. If you’re drawn to something explore it. Take that first step, that deep breath – everyone deserves to explore their full potential.’ 

‘When I first got into meditation in 2006, I wasn’t sure what I expected. For me, it was a spiritual yearning. I’m far from all things Zen. I’m quick to react for example. But I find, I’m less reactive. I’m also more careful how and who I share my time with,’ I add.

Cheryl nods in agreement, ‘That’s it. I know what triggers me now. Like a lot of people, I over-planned my time, committing to events or nights out way in advance or simply too many things in one week. It’s stressful. I don’t sleep as well and can end up feeling out of balance.’

I relate to this as many of us can. I consider our conversation so far before asking, ‘I imagine a mandala painting workshop would be fun, do you have any plans to pass on what you’ve learned with others?’

‘Yes, I’d love that!’ Cheryl lights up. That’s one of the things I visualised for this year. It’d be small groups, so everyone gets attention and gets to bring home their creation.’

‘Finally, I ask, ‘making mandalas is something you put your love and heart into. You’ve said each one is a journey for you. How do you feel that translates to the person purchasing a piece for themselves or as a unique gift?’

‘As the piece comes to life, it is my journey. When someone receives the finished work, it becomes their journey. They get to follow the pattern, the circle, through their eyes and their expression. It gives me pure joy to see someone’s face light up when they choose or receive their mandala. It’s a joy being shared.’

That, I believe dear reader, is the Circle of Life.

To follow Cheryl’s artistic journey, check out her vibrant mandalas on Instagram.

Stay tuned for Mandalas by Cheryl‘s workshops and market appearances around Dublin.

The next Full Moon is February 24, 2024. It is known as, Snow Moon

Young woman with head thrown back laughing. Holding a meditation scarf around her neck. Green field and blue sea in the background.

Cheryl wearing Fly me to the Moon scarf.

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