The benefits of spending time in nature are well documented and this mental health awareness week highlights the benefit of nature on good mental wellbeing. Here at the Creative Living Centre we are in full support of this.
Connecting to nature on a regular basis is a huge part of my personal wellbeing practice. I find joy and beauty throughout each of the seasons and in all weathers and try to extend the same compassion to myself. Being in nature reminds me that I often overcomplicate what is going on in my own life with so many modern distractions. Carving out the time to connect with my breath amongst the trees or by the water helps me connect back to myself and what is really important.
I am the Take Part Coordinator at the Creative Living Centre, I am also a mother to two scrumptious girls and a qualified trauma informed 300 hour yoga teacher. Fostering a love of nature in my young children is so important to me so that they will learn they always have access to a natural mood enhancer whenever in their lives they might feel like they need it.
Today, with your permission, I am going to be guiding you through how to make a mandala out of natural materials, with the invitation to create your own mandala. The world mandala is a Sanskirt word that translates to ‘circle’. Traditionally, mandalas represent the universe and life and act as a reminder of the interconnected nature of everything (are you singing the Circle of Life in your head now, or is that just me?). Mandalas can be found in the natural world from tree rings, to flower petals. Creating a mandala from natural materials can be a great way to mindfully connect to the nature this Mental Health Awareness week.
One of the lovely things about creating a Mandala from natural materials is that it can be done again and again throughout the wheel of the year, each time incorporating different seasonal embellishments, to different results. The activity is suitable for any age group; my 3 and 6 year olds both love helping gather materials to create a beautiful expression of the season just as much as I do.
Before your walk, I invite you to select a basket or small bag to use to gather any interesting treasures you may see to help create your own mandala. Whilst walking you might like to bring your awareness to any sights, sounds or smells you notice that might help inspire your creation. Can you notice any natural mandalas? What sort of natural items do you feel drawn to working with? Perhaps leaves, flowers, twins, stones, or a combination or different materials.
When you have found the items you would like to work with, I invite you to think about where you would like to create your mandala. If you don’t have access to your own outdoor space then perhaps you would like to find a safe spot in a woodland or park where you can do this. Be mindful of leaving loose twigs or any items that may become slippy blocking any pathways when you leave.
When creating a mandala, traditionally the centre point is marked first. You might prefer to work differently but if your intention is to create a symmetrical pattern you may find it easiest to work from the centre outwards, building each new circular layer radiating out from this centre point and continuing outwards as long as you wish.
The invitation, whilst creating your mandala, is to connect to any textures, smells or colours you might notice as you work.
The wind had other visions for our recent creation but we still had lots of fun.
Hope you do too.
Raising Funds for the Creative Living Centre
The Prestwich and Whitefield branch of the Women’s Institute, which has raised over £1,000 for Creative Living Centre in 2020, is a very active and lively group of about 85 women who usually meet every month at St Margaret’s church hall in Prestwich, organise regular days out and have a range of interest groups including a walking group, a ‘culture club’, a reading group and a ‘crafternoon’ group. They often invite a guest to their monthly get-together to give a talk or lead an activity, and if the guest is from a charity the attendees usually do a collection for the charity at the end of the meeting.
In late 2019 the committee decided that they would like to choose a charity to support over the course of a whole year, for the first time. Two charities were considered and Creative Living Centre was chosen.
Jackie Hardy, President of Prestwich and Whitefield WI, said,
‘Your support can get absorbed and lost in a national charity.
We wanted something that’s local and can make a difference for our members, their families and people living in Prestwich and Whitefield’.
Fundraising for CLC started at their Annual General Meeting in February 2020, with a tombola which raised £80 – a great start. To continue the fundraising, the crafternooners planned to sell their homemade items at meetings over the year but the March lockdown put paid to that, and crafternoon and other WI meetings moved online.
Lucy Nye, who leads the WI crafts group, then had the inspired idea of setting up a travelling craft shop in the boot of her car. She started visiting WI members at home to sell the crafts from her boot in a socially distanced way, and many also gave donations for CLC. Driving round had the added bonus of allowing Lucy to check how members were doing, since some had not been leaving home, and some did not have the technology to attend the online meetings. The travelling craft shop even made a visit to CLC so staff could buy some of the wonderful craft items and Lucy could hand over a cheque.
We are so grateful to Prestwich and Whitefield WI for their very generous support. Lucy Nye said, ‘I can’t believe we’ve raised this much!’ It feels particularly appropriate that the money was raised through crafting, an activity which is popular at CLC as well as the WI and has therapeutic benefits. Jackie Hardy said,
‘We’re all about friendship and connection,
so mental health is a big issue for the WI.
Creative Living Centre is a great fit for us.’
If you would like to raise funds for CLC, we would love to hear from you. Please give us a ring on 0161 696 7501 or email email@example.com.
Paula Jones, Fundraising Coordinator