The Ennis Court Mandala Project
Could this be a new treatment for the memory impaired?
An amazing experiment is taking place at Ennis Court (A senior Living Community) located in Lakewood, Ohio. Charles is teaching the residents to make Mandalas with fantastic results. All the artists represented here are suffering with various levels of cognitive degeneration, some severe (more details below).
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Ennis Court: a senior living community (nursing care & assisted living)
13315 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
The Ennis Court Mandala Project
An Interview With The Artist
by Leslie Page
L.P... Charles, tell me about the Ennis Court Mandala Project. It is so unusual. How did it begin.
C.G... In November 2000, my Mother began to suffer with the debilitating mental disease known as dementia. She was well into her eighties, needed constant care, and was living in an assisted care facility. And then, late in 2002, she fell and broke her hip in three pieces. Unfortunately, she never really recovered from that accident and her dementia steadily increased. She ended up in the nursing care section of Ennis Court and mercifully passed away in April, 2004.
L.P... So that's how you met Patrice Campbell?
C.G... Yes, I was at Ennis Court on a regular basis and was impressed by her caring leadership. She's definitely way ahead of the norm, very sensitive, with unusual and progressive views about the care of the elderly, especially as it relates to environmental influences. I was very grateful my Mother was living in such a beautiful place and surrounded by such caring people.
L.P... How did Mrs. Campbell realize you where a Mandala artist?
C.G... I gave her one of my Sacred Geometry Posters and was surprised at her very enthusiastic reaction. At first I thought she was just being polite but quickly realized she already knew a little about Mandalas. I gave her a card and suggested she check out my web site. A few days later she and one of her staff members cornered me. Criss Evans (in charge of the arts and crafts department) had introduced Patrice to the basic concepts of Mandala making and had already experimented with some small classes. Mrs. Campbell asked me if I would like to teach their residents how to make Mandalas. Both women were very aware of the healing potentials associated with the tradition of Mandala making and were very excited about the possibilities.
L.P... How gratifying, you must have been thrilled.
C.G... Not really. I has shocked and instantly felt a deep resistance to the entire idea. It did not feel like a fun thing to do. On the contrary, I was terrified by the suggestion.
L.P... Now I'm shocked. I thought you would have jumped at the chance. Where was that resistance coming from?
C.G... I had already had a belly full of death and illness, years and years of it. I was beat up with it . . . Totally stressed out.
L.P... Of course, your fabulous wife Pamela had recently passed away. And now your mother was suffering with another form of incurable disease.
C.G... That's it. I felt so ineffective . . . So powerless. I could not do anything to save my wife's life. I just had to keep it together and watch while a very virulent cancer slowly pinched out her vitality and finally her life. It was horrible. And it was the same basic situation with my mother. I was forced to watch my mother's mind slowly going away, and could do nothing to stop it.
L.P... What turned you around?
C.G... (laughs) That's what I like about you Leslie, so direct. . . Right to the point. Obviously, I did turn around. It was one of those explosions of understanding. You know, one of those powerful experiences which allows you to bridge the paradigm; a light of understanding suddenly shining in your head. My mind instantly and totally changed . . . Polarized . . . Lead into Gold.
L.P... Ah, another of your alchemical revelations.
C.G... Yes, It all came together in an instant. I was working on one of my own Mandalas, very deep into the stillness. Suddenly I realized Patrice Campbell was handing me a magical sword of power. I could at last do something that might actually help people, maybe even my mother.
L.P... Sword of power?
C.G... Yes, I could finally see that Patrice was giving me an opportunity to take control of, and heal myself. I was beat up with grief and terribly afraid, trying to avoid the realities of loss and death. I was running away from my latest and, so far, hardest lessons.
L.P... There is an old saying, Charles: Run away from your fears and they crawl over your back.
C.G... Exactly! I finally saw that. I mentally turned around and when I picked up that sword I could instantly see an offensive strategy.
L.P... All right, Lets talk about strategies. How did you approach this opportunity?
C.G... I could suddenly see multiple layers, all fitting together. I knew, by direct experience, the healing power of Mandala making. . . And Sacred Geometry. . . And open-eyed meditation. I also knew the icons of Sacred Geometry where tremendously powerful transcendental tools which could effect the mind at the deepest levels. I can, and do, get lost in the perfections of God's first language, working on various Mandalas for numerous hours in the deepest calm. My consciousness has been positively effected through this healing and growing process called Mandala making. So the first questions: Could the making of Mandalas based on simple geometry (circles, triangles, squares, etc.) positively affect people suffering with various declining levels of cognitive ability? Could perfect geometry get through the muddled surface of their minds to find the inner being and allow it to express?
L.P... And you believed making Mandalas could do that?
C.G... It did that for me, and I theorized it was possible that the icons of Sacred Geometry could get through various memory problems and restore balance, at least to some degree. I created a formula, took my ideas and suggestions to Mrs. Campbell, and we began the project almost immediately, as an experiment.
L.P... Tell me about the people.... The residents. Because from what I have seen, their work is just extraordinary. How many residents are involved in the project?
C.G... About 200. . . So far, and they totally enjoy the process. They have created well over 5000 Mandalas in about three years. That's only one hour a week, about 20 to 30 people per class. Right now, there are hundreds of Mandalas hanging on the walls of Ennis Court. Everyone gets a big kick out of it.
L.P... Who are these people. . . These artists?
C.G... Yes of course. They are what this project is really about. Men and women with very little artistic training and no experience with Mandala making. And they are all functioning with various levels of confusion, some are still relatively sharp, some are close to comatose, and everything in between, up and down, good days and hard days. Its a veritable smorgasbord of humanity, none completely able to function on their own.
L.P... How do you deal with that, Charles? I mean, this is not exactly your field of expertise. Did you receive some kind of training?
C.G... As you know Leslie, I am interested in alternative forms of reality, the paranormal, metaphysics, etc. As an adult, this interest began to resurface in the early seventies and I made it my business to seek out people with paranormal and/or hallucinogenic experience. At that time I was having extremely paranormal experiences, some of which were very much like the written experiences of people under the influence of LSD. I was looking for answers . . . Anywhere I could find them.
L.P... But if I remember correctly, you didn't experiment with drugs until much later.
C.G... Yes, that's true. Anyway, as I was seeking information about the reality of seeing the universe with totally different eyes, I came upon several people experiencing very bad acid trips. They were definitely not seeing the universe as I was, but for them, their vision was just as real as mine. One young man was seeing multiple duplicates of himself as we talked. Actually he was crying and shaking with fear, and I was doing most of the talking. Can you imagine seeing a dozen duplicates of yourself all posturing in bazaar variations? At one point he was even seeing me as another form of himself. It was extremely strange but somehow I helped him.
L.P... Do you believe you have some kind of natural, intuitive ability in this area?
C.G... I don't know, but I remember as my mother continued to decline she began to act as if she were on her own very scary acid trip, definitely experiencing some kind of lousy alternative reality. And so I just treated her like she was tripping on LSD, trying to stay calm and holding to my own center, gently reassuring . . . Tender . . . Non-judgemental. That experience was my training, and that's how I deal with the folks at Ennis Court . . . As if they were all experiencing their own very personal universe . . . Some beautiful, some not so beautiful. I just try to stay centered and open, ready for anything. It seems to work.
L.P... Indeed it does, Charles. You are getting amazing things out of these people. How do you do that? What about formula?
C.G... Simple really. Basic ideas. Little trays of watercolors, small pieces of textured water color paper, and a good brush. It is a collaborative process. I intuitively strike an icon of Sacred Geometry in the center of the paper and encourage them to play with it. From there, I just kind of stand back and support them emotionally. Some of them cannot even talk, but somehow make beautiful Mandalas.
L.P... I can't believe it's that simple.
C.G... They are very childlike . . . As am I. I have spent a lifetime cultivating my own childishness and hold onto my personal naiveté. We just play together and these wonderful things manifest. It is truly magical. Sometimes I can hardly believe what I witness with my own eyes.
L.P... So it would seem you have proven your point about the power of Sacred Geometry to act as some kind of meditative stimulant transcending what we usually associate as rational thinking.