Tuesday, April 28, 2009


heartbeat mandalaHeartbeat Mandala (Mandalas for Peace series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image:coleonema flowers imbued with rose quartz energy
The mission of the Institute of HeartMath is to help establish heart-based living and global coherence by inspiring people to connect with the intelligence and guidance of their own hearts ~ (from their website)

The first time I noticed these flowers up close was right after a refreshing spring rain. The pink energy of the blossoms seemed to radiate soothing love. As I was completing this mandala, I was reminded of the calm that rose quartz offers during times of stress. I created a rose quartz mandala from a photo I had and used it for sparkly texture that is in the space surrounding the flowers.

So what does this have to do with the Institute of Heart Math's Mission Statement that I posted above? My perspective is rooted in spiritual orientation, but I love finding examples of how spirit, science and art all interact. The Heart Math Institute does some amazing research on the relationship of the heart to the brain and emotions in developing what they call a resonant heart. It is much too involved to go into in great detail here, but I would definitely recommend a look-see of their website and the work they are doing in reducing world wide stress. What a goal, eh?

I have a PDF from IMH called The Resonant Heart that speaks, among other things, of Attitudinal Breathing ® and how it helps in developing consciousness. I would be happy to email this PDF to anyone who wants one. Just contact me using the email link posted in the right hand side bar.

Below is the Attitude Breathing Tool developed by Doc Childre, founder of the Heart Math Institute:
Attitude Breathing Tool

1. Focus on the heart as you breathe in. As you breathe
out, focus on your solar plexus.The solar plexus is located about
four inches below the heart, just below the sternum where the
left and right sides of your ribcage are joined.

2. Practice breathing in through the heart and out through
the solar plexus for 30 seconds or more to help anchor your
energy and attention there. Next select a positive feeling or
attitude to breathe in and out through those same areas for
another 30 seconds (or more). For example, you can breathe in
through the heart an attitude of appreciation, and breathe out
through the solar plexus an attitude of care.

3. Select attitudes to breathe that will help offset the
negative emotion or imbalance of the situation you are in. Breathe
deeply with the intent of shifting to the feeling of that attitude.
For example, you can breathe in an attitude of balance and
breathe out an attitude of forgiveness, or you can breathe in an
attitude of love and breathe out an attitude of compassion.
Practice different combinations of attitudes you want to
develop.You can tell yourself, “Breathe Genuine,” “Breathe
Courage,” “Breathe Ease,” “Breathe Gratitude” or whatever
attitude you need or want.Even if you can’t feel the attitude shift
at first, making a genuine and earnest effort to shift will at least
help you get to a neutral state. In neutral, you have more
objectivity and you save energy.

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Sunday, April 26, 2009


grounded in the light mandalaGrounded in the Light - (Mandalas for Peace ) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: Northern California beach sand

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
~William Blake

I was asked by another artist over on Twitter how I got into mandala making. My reply was that it was more like mandala making got into me.

My first experience with the holy circle was in the late '90s when I had the opportunity to take a mandala workshop facilitated by a woman who was certified by Judith Cornell. If you have never seen examples of Judith Cornell's style, take a look at Caterina Martinico's work. I became fascinated working with in the confines of completeness in other art work I did, but it wasn't until I got my first computer and discovered the Earth Mandalas website that I knew I had to learn how to use Photoshop.

Fast forward a few years to 2005.

I went back to school for training in digital media and desktop publishing after a series of work layoffs had left me feeling ready for learning something new. After the end of my first semester in Photoshop, I remembered the Earth Mandala website and decided to spend some time learning how to make these mandalas. While developing this skill I began envisioning possibilities of getting my art out into the world. I took a second semester in Photoshop to further develop my skills and used blogging on Xanga as a way of developing confidence in my art.

It wasn't until I was diagnosed with a benign tumor on my carotid artery in 2006 that I began to feel like mandala making was a true calling. I turned my will and my care over to my faith in the Universe and did what I needed to do to have the surgery I needed. It was a demonstration in how we are taken care of if we allow it to happen. The allowing is the hardest and not without those dark moments of the soul. I am still learning to travel within the Unknown, and today I would say I do it with a bit more grace and strength than I did five years ago.

I am coming upon the 3rd anniversary of the diagnosis of my tumor and I am once again unemployed.My employer's decision was totally unexpected, and I find I am not fighting against the decision. There are moments of anger, but mostly I feel steady and optimistic that still more doors are waiting to open. My new printer will arrive any day now along with paper and packing supplies. I am looking towards selling more of my art. I am excited you get to share my developments with me here.

The message I have today is to keep the faith and follow those dreams.

Never ever give up! ~ Winston Churchill

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


we are jewels mandalaWe are Jewels (Mandalas for Peace) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image -new fiddlehead ferns

Spiritual progress is like detoxification. Things have to come up in order to be released. Once we have asked to be healed, then our unhealed places are forced to the surface ~ Marianne Williamson

While I was creating this mandala, the words that kept coming up for me were "we are worth it." As the mandala continued to develop I saw a jewel like tapestry , all sparkly and new, unfolding before me.

During one of my recent nature walks, I noticed this new fern growth. I love how the fronds first appear as tight little spirals before unfurling into the sunshine.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that I have an affinity for spirals; they represent a core process of spiritual growth. When we spiral back to personal issues that reoccur in our lives, look to see if we are in the same place as we were the last time the subject arose. Reflecting upon our growth on the spiral path helps us affirm our progress.
I want to thank those of you who inquired on my last post about prints of my mandalas. I have purchased a new printer which I should have by week's end (I hope I hope.) It will take me a while to learn how to use it, but I will be able to produce 12"x12" prints when all is said and done. I am also in the process of fine tuning my account on RedBubble, where larger prints of my mandalas will be available. I will be announcing further news here on my blog and via my mandala mailing list. If you want to be added, please email me via the contact address listed on my blog. You can also find me on Twitter as @sueokieffe.
It's a glorious day. Affirm your worth. Go out and shine like the precious jewel you are.

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Friday, April 17, 2009


Light as a Feather Mandala (Mandalas for Peace series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: feather in tea tree bush

And above all watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. ~Roald Dahl

I love finding feathers on my path. When I'm not paying attention and there they are, I take it as a sign that I'm doing ok. This feather was caught in a blossoming tea tree bush I pass on my daily morning walk from work.

My blog posts today here and at my doodle blog touch on the subject of magic. Finding feathers is magical gift from Spirit. I have no idea what bird shed this 2" gift, but it sure made me smile. I like the 13 ray configuration too.
Even though the number 13 is often considered unlucky, I like what Susanne Fincher suggests: 12 is a number of completion and 13 is about new beginnings (though sometimes it is hard to tell when one cycle is ending and another is beginning). Spring is like that, too, don't you think?

I took some specific time away from mandala making and the computer and now I feel new work just itching to be created.

I hope you will find and embrace a magic moment in the days to come as well. If you feel inspired, tell me about it. I'd love to hear.

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Sunday, April 12, 2009


depth of wonder mandalaDepth of Wonder - (Dream Mandala series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image - red alder flower staminate

I Sense There is This Mystery: All Life is Being Lived

And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances
or streets, as they wind through time?

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


While I enjoy creating many different kinds of mandalas, it is the themes of mystery and wonder that intrigue me the most. While creating this image, I could not help but be drawn into its depth . It spoke to me of holiness. The mandala's 11 rays creates a bridge between the higher and lower realms and offers spiritual illumination. I thought this poem by Rilke, found on @gassho's (Pamir Kiciman) Twitwall posting a perfect accompaniment to this mandala.

This is my 250th post. I had other plans, originally, to mark this day, but spirit apparently has some other plans for me. Instead I will offer gratitude and thanks for all of those who have helped and inspired me along the way. I hope you know who you are...parents, teachers, lovers, friends, medical and spiritual advisors, different mentors...thanks for holding me up and helping me get to where I am. My open heart is full of appreciation for you all.