Contemplative Creative Practices – A Mandala

Contemplative Creative Practices – A Mandala ©2017 Bo Mackison


This is a mandala of contemplative and creative practices. Almost all of these practices show up in one way or another in Contemplative Creatives Journey.

If these are practices that call out to you, please check out Contemplative Creatives Journey Winter 2017-18. We begin December 15th and registration is now open.

DIARY WRITTEN ON AUTUMN LEAVES (a poem in six parts)

Gingko Leaves © 2017 Bo Mackison



(in six parts)

I. there are the dreams

Hold my thoughts
and dreams
as you scatter
take flight
for those of us grounded

II. there is the holding on

Holding on, hanging on.
No stranger to holding on
before letting go of the known.

Change electrifies the sky.
Freedom awaits.

III. there is the ride

It’s your turn to travel
On the winds of time
Gently, freely floating

Letting go
Riding the winds of life.

leaf dreams,
whirl and chatter,
small red and gold cyclones
grasp wind,
let go.

Brilliant leaf
please take my regrets
on the wind.
Let them fall away.

Fall away, let go, ride the air,
So a new year may begin.

IV. there is the dust

Last vestige of Summer
crumples into dust
To augment the new growth
of a new Summer,
As I will augment the growth
of a new generation.

V. there is rest

Signaling change
Ever changing skies
Preparing for rest.

tenderly landing

The leafless branches
like stitches pulling together
land and sky

A thin page of the season
Leaf of gossamer
Holds my gaze, my thoughts, my love

resting, earth to earth
connecting, heaven to earth

VI. there is the quiet

Floating, flying, propelled
into unknown adventure,
Finally to find rest,
lying softly on the earth’s litter,

Cushioned among the other
discarded gowns of summer.
I envy your deep sleep,
the safety of your blanket,
As I trudge on through winter.

there is the quiet

now be
be still in the wind
be still.

Scattering of Gingko Leaves © 2017 Bo Mackison

This poem was written with my Contemplative Creatives Journey (CCJ) online workshop/community. It is a collaborative effort. Together we imagined what diary entry we might write on an autumn leaf. Then I wove together the words of 15 members of the group – this poem is the result. These collaborations are one of my favorite parts of our group and give me such deep joy when I can weave words into one offering. It’s truly a lovely creative practice.

If this sort of thing appeals to you, I hope you’ll check out my coming offering. CCJ Winter begins December 15 and is now open for registration.

Stars in Perspective Mandala


Star Perspective ©2017 Bo Mackison

A story about my contemplative creative practice:

My thoughts were too swirly as I considered the issues before me: a friendship once full of hope and promise now drifting away like a column of smoke; complicated relationships with both my aging mother and my disabled sister; conversations with a mentor parsing the differences between relationships that take and relationships that give. And then there remained the world beyond my door, a constant thorn and source of anxiety. Complicated stuff.

As I am wont to do when my thoughts feel too wobbly, too big, I took out paper and pencils. I formed an intention, something like “I need perspective… and stars” because I needed wisdom from deep within, a glimpse of understanding, wisdom that was vast and unconstrained and beyond any sense of control I could imagine, a wisdom that I sensed to be rather like swimming in a star-sea of grace.

I know (or I don’t know.) Wisdom is a tricky thing, being both microscopic and telescopic.

I filled the large circle on my paper with dense markings. Lots of intense energy. Color upon color, a thick buildup of color. My first inclination was to add some sparkle, but I decided that wasn’t quite right.

So I turned to my second line of defense – poetry. I googled “star and perspective poetry” to see what kick start inspiration I might discover and an art teacher’s blog showed up after a dozen or so clicks.

I read: “Fourth graders have been learning about one-point perspective as a way to create the illusion of space.” An illusion of space! If it is good enough for fourth graders, it is certainly good enough for me!

So I created the Stars in Perspective Mandala and as I created the various “explosions in space” I considered various perspectives to my issues at hand and wondered how I might see the space in which I am currently adrift as gift and blessing, not as a dark hole I try repeatedly and unsuccessfully to escape.

My contemplative creative practice at work by way of mandala creation and poetry reading.

If this sort of practice speaks to you, consider checking out my online workshop/community. We begin December 15th and registrations are already coming in. Join us?



This gently guided journey with Bo has infused my existing practices with renewed energy. Her exquisite leadership is informed by experience, training and soulful instinct. I consider her a modem mystic. ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

If the words contemplative and creative have a sweet juiciness for you and you’re interested in a different sort of online workshop, read on.

  • Instead of schedules, I offer serendipity.
  • Instead of a planned curriculum, I offer surprises.
  • Instead of expectations, I offer possibilities.
  • Instead of learned objectives, I offer an always-available way to engage and interact with the world through art, nature and the written word.

I combine my roles as curator of life experience, writer, artist, Certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach, and certified Miksang Contemplative Photography instructor to offer you a meaningful and fulfilling workshop. (Although I am fond of the phrase playshop!)



Together we will explore themes and creative practices that inspire and encourage, elicit wonder and awe, uplift your spirit and feed your soul.

This is not a practice that requires you set aside a certain amount of time each day (unless that is your desire.) Instead, it is this:

  • a practice that gently weaves itself throughout your day
  • a practice that illuminates the extraordinary in the ordinary, celebrates the uncommon in the common
  • ways of interacting with place that highlight the wonder of and connection with nature, no matter where you live, work and play.

We begin DECEMBER 15th, 2017 as the winter season approaches. We’ll journey together until MARCH 15th, 2018.

Winter Solstice ©2016 Bo Mackison

Together we will walk on a journey of increased awareness of the miracles and beauty of the ordinary, and a renewed awareness of the cycles of WINTER throughout the year’s darkest time. During this time we will explore dozens of creative and contemplative practices.

There is a strong community and collaborative aspect in the group, but it is always invitation and opportunity, never a requirement.

In community and individually, we explore these themes: 

word * vision * place


This practice focuses on how to connect — to the world, community, and self — using words. We will play with words, explore words, and connect nature and place using words.

I’ll share many ways to create poetry, even if you do not consider yourself a poet or a writer. Many of the writing practices are collaborative invitations.

We will play with words – tile poetry, collaborative poetry, and poetry art using found words and pictures.


Mandala making will include the practice of using colored pencils on black paper while exploring Winter’s deeper palette of colors. Black and white mandalas will also be featured.

The photography component will focus on Miksang contemplative photography practices. Focus: the practice of seeing details and interacting with your ordinary and personal world. (All types of cameras and skill levels are fine.)


THROUGHOUT THE SHORT DAYS OF WINTER, we’ll continue the practice of backyard phenology – the study of nature’s calendar, an ever-present, in-the-present survey of the cycles of plants and animals in your natural world.

We’ll work with the concepts from “The Book of Hours” derived from ancient contemplative practices that focus on mindfulness practices throughout the day.

Bo has created a safe and sacred space for creativity to flourish, respite to abide, and healing to occur – no matter what is happening in our internal or external worlds. The vulnerable and honest sharing of her own creative practices has invited me more deeply into my own. I cannot recommend this offering or her heart on others’ behalf highly enough. ~ Ronna Detrick


Are you searching for a place of sanctuary, a place to recharge your inner battery so you can show up bright and energized for the demands of living in today’s world?

Would you benefit from a creative practice that can be done in free moments? What if instead of checking social media whenever a spare moment arises, you chose to check in with yourself instead?  Would you benefit from a contemplative practice that focuses on a stronger connection with yourself and with the present?

Do you thrive with to do lists? Do you do your best, most creative work on a schedule while meeting deadlines? If your answer is yes, then this workshop will likely be a different sort of experience. Are you ready for this kind of change? Then come along and explore the creative and contemplative life with spaciousness and spontaneity.

Do you have the right kind of supplies? You create with the simplest of supplies, things you likely already own.

  • Paper of any sort, i.e. sketchbooks, a journal, ephemera. Black paper will be used for mandala making.
  • Any sort of mark-making media you already have, i.e. pens, pencils, markers, pastels, paints.
  • Camera of your choice (Cell phone camera is fine.)
  • Mixed media supplies such as old magazines, household ephemera, a glue stick.

Whether you have a fully equipped art room or a box of simple supplies you store in a closet, you’ll find new ways to create. Surprises and nudges will get your creative juices flowing. Hints on how to see or create in new ways will offer you unlimited possibilities for exploration and are easily incorporated into your everyday routine.

Creating a Mandala © 2017 Bo Mackison


The WINTER journey is 14 weeks long.  December 15th, 2017 through March 14, 2018.


Private community on Facebook. Everything is delivered to a private Facebook group page and may show up anytime. Surprise and serendipity! You are encouraged to share your discoveries and experiences in the private group however and whenever you choose.

This guided and easily accessible process allows you to engage in the practice wherever and whenever you choose.


I offer you my knowledge, my skills, my presence and my enthusiasm. The cost for the 14-week journey and an active sharing community is $99.00.


Registration is now open.

Register here through PayPal.

I do hope you will join me.

Frida Kahlo at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Frida y Diego © 2017 Bo Mackison

The exhibit FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life was created by the New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) to highlight Frida Kahlo, renowned Mexican painter, and her deep connection and appreciation of the beauty of the natural world. The exhibit was designed by award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask and curated by Adriana Zavala, Associate Professor of modern and contemporary Latin America art history and Director of Latino Studies at Tufts University.

Tucson Botanical Gardens (the Gardens) was the only garden selected to receive this exhibit by NYBG. This setting showcased the exhibit in a landscape familiar to the original home and garden.

Window View from Casa Azul © 2017 Bo Mackison

The gardens are alive with the colors and textures representative of the original gardens in Casa Azul (Blue House). Archival photos from the 1940s show their garden as a showplace and gathering place.

Casa Azul’s Pyramid © 2017 Bo Mackison

In 1941, Frida Kahlo and her husband and noted muralist, Diego Riviera, designed and constructed a small pyramid in the garden of Casa Azul, their home in a suburb of Mexico City. They based their design on Mesoamerican models. Various native cacti are on display in Tucson; pre-Hispanic artifacts were displayed on the original.

Frida Kitchen II ©2017 Bo Mackison

Frida was an excellent cook and spent many hours each day shopping for fresh foods at the mercado, then preparing dishes for family and friends. A small replica of her kitchen is located in the children’s garden of TBG.

Frida’s Art Studio ©2017 Bo Mackison

A unique view of a replica of the studio environment of Frida Kahlo. Shelves are crammed with small sculptures and books on botany, poetry, pre-Hispanic cultures. Stoppered bottles of mineral colors are ready for use.

The Two Fridas © 2017 Bo Mackison

Contemporary artist Humberto Spindola, artist-in-residence at NYBG during the Frida exhibit, designed and created this sculpture made of paper dresses and bamboo-framed mannequins. The sculptures are made from tissue paper, a modern adaptation of the Aztec-inspired amate paper made from tree bark. The skeleton is molded bamboo fastened with hemp cord and wax.

His sculpture is an interpretation of Kahlo’s painting The Two Fridas, a painting where Kahlo illustrated her dual heritages. One Frida wears a white, European styled dress; the second Frida wears the dress of the traditional Zapotec women. Note the healthy and vibrant heart vs. the unhealthy, weakened heart. Kahlo did this painting in 1939, the year she divorced Diego.

The exhibit is at Tucson Botanical Gardens runs through May 31, 2017. It is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Check current information at