Living in the Round

Do something.  Right now, close your eyes…take a deep breath.  Now, open them and look around.  Look up at your ceiling.  Notice the walls of the room in which you’re sitting.   Glance down at the tiles on the floor under your feet (you ARE reading this in your bathroom, aren’t you?).  Now look back at the computer screen. 

Think for a moment… What do you see?

Unless you’re somehow receiving this information across the astral planes while wading in a mountain lake, you are surrounded by boxes.  You’re sitting in a room-box, staring into a box-shaped screen.  Boxes, boxes…everywhere.  Drive down the road and allow your eyes to take in the shapes of modern civilization.  With few exceptions, we have built a world full of boxes.

How did we come to live in a box when the natural world describes itself mostly in circles, arches and gentle curves?

What is a circle and why have we chosen to create our realities inside of right-angles?  The circle is deeply imprinted in human consciousness.  Our lives begin inside a rounded belly-nest, we enter the world through the round birth-canal portal, and our lips are immediately pressed to mother’s round breasts for our first warm meal. 

Shortly thereafter we are thrust into a series of boxes.  They wrap us in a blanket and tuck us in a tiny crib where we dream of floating in the dark, warm womb-water—only to awaken in terror at the new feeling of separation from our Mother Source.

Life goes on.  The boxes get larger.  A bedroom of our own, perhaps.  The fenced yard.  The schoolroom.   Then it’s time to venture into the world.  Nervous, we sit in the job interview room anticipating this next step into freedom and success.  Then, for decades of working years, it’s just one box after another—stockroom, cubicle, lab, office-with-a-door, and (maybe if you’re very “lucky”) the corner office with big windows through which you can watch wind tousle the hair of trees outside.

We don’t see the invisible boxes which fold neatly around and above us.  Unconsciously, we accept the roles, the beliefs…the prescribed path.  They form the construct of life-as-we-know-it.  We come to value these boxes—both visible and imaginary.  Our houses, our careers, our politics, our religion.  We cling to them.  We feel safe within their walls and accumulate stuff with which to fill their emptiness.

And why not?  Boxes aren’t bad things.  They are useful containers.  They are easy to stack into tidy rows.  They help us keep life organized.

So what’s this fixation on geometric shapes?  Why should we pay attention to circles?  How is any of this going to translate into a new pool in the backyard?

First, you don’t want your own pool.  You just really don’t.  Make friends with someone who already has one or sneak over the fence at Holiday Inn and swim for free.  But, I digress…

Human beings are unique on earth as “semantics-binding” creatures.  We use symbols (words, pictures, numbers, etc.) to create a map and overlay it on an immense flow of data.  This helps us make sense of what we call life.  Deep in our primal consciousness sleep powerful symbols laden with meanings we don’t understand on a rational level.  We can feel them, though.  They show up in odd ways and remind us in ancient whispers that we are much more powerful, complex and mysterious beings than we imagine.

The circle is one such primitive reminder.

Pretend with me for a moment that right there in front of us is a translucent spiral staircase leading upward to the sky.  Go ahead, you start the climb; I’m right behind you.  Higher and higher we ascend…above the treetops, above the mountains, through the thin air and tingling ice-crystal clouds.

Look down.  What do you see?

A round earth–one vast circle of blue and green and brown—lies beneath us.  From this vantage point we can’t even see the tiny Lego-cities clustered around seaports and rivers.  We can’t see the boxes mankind has imposed upon the surface of this great globe.  Look up.  See the smiling sun?  The demure moon?  The sparkling stars?  From here, the universe and everything in it is whole and round.  The flow of Life moves through it all in ceaseless circling tides.

The circle is a symbol of inclusive wholeness.  What could be more desirable to our isolated modern psyche than enjoying the bliss of health and joyful community?  What if we could push away from our solitary immersion in constant motion, walk outside our box and engage in life’s ecstatic dance with humankind again?  What if we could re-member the fractured, repressed and terrifyingly beautiful shards of ourselves—piece them together once again into a glorious mandala of Authentic Self?

I hear you thinking, “Wonderful.  That sounds great.  How do we do it, though?”

There’s not one easy answer…no silver bullet or magic pill.  Perhaps it all begins with imagination.  If I can imag-ine (see and feel a picture) of a different way of being, then I can allow myself to flow in that direction.  I need not force or push, but simply begin to draw the beauty of this new scene inside myself.  Let it burrow down into the fallow soil of my soul, germinate and blossom from within.  With each aware breath, feel the reality of a healed and radiant life and know that it is available right now.  We don’t have to wait to win the lottery, or for retirement, nor even for some distant heaven.

Bringing circle energy into our lives is part remembering how to be and part learning what to do.  Support your awareness with symbols and actions.  Build something round—a campfire, a delicious meal, a flower bed.  Gather other people and enjoy it with them.  Walk outside as often as possible and sit beneath the circle of shade from a big tree.  Press your back against its round trunk and feel the curving earth beneath you.  Breathe the good air, slow and long…then release it.  Imagine that with each cycle of breath you are helping weave the unfathomably miraculous web of life.


Later, when it’s time to return to one box or another, take your re-balanced consciousness with you like an inner flower.  Round out the edges of your conversation with fresh compassion.  Learn to graciously give and receive.

Also, start to notice your boxes.  There’s no need to fight them or destroy them.  Simply observe where they show up and how they hold you apart from other people—how they enclose your adventurous nature as it seeks to sally forth a’ questing into life.  Look for ways to step outside these boxes and experience yourself under the blue, blue sky and radiant sunshine of All That Is. 

You are, in truth, not an isolated part of some rusting machine but an integrally connected and necessary cell in the One Living Whole.

(P.S. I am inspired to write this in part by the work of Rachel Ross & Lars Chose who help people “live in the round” with their amazing Mandala Homes. Please take a look at these magnificent structures!)

click here to visit Mandala Homes website...

 Also, check out my friend Marjory Mejia’s article on “Dreams & Dwellings That Harness Our Potential” << click here.

Here’s an old song which tells the story…
“Little Boxes, Little Boxes”

And one of my favorite songs by Jewel…
“Simple Gifts”


25 Responses

  1. the flow of round
    soft and forgiving

    love the view of the domed earth when laying upon a big open field… or at the edge of earth where it touches the sea.. it always reminds me

    thanks too for your remembering and sharing

    • thank you, June! I had a hunch you’d “get” this one 🙂
      BTW, you’ve read John O’Donohue’s “Anam Cara”, yeah?

      many blessings,

      • closed my eyes… and when i opened them i saw once again the angles of my roof… the slopes of the ceiling… all edged in deep beautiful Aegean blue…..
        Learn to graciously give and receive.
        one of the best lessons to learn…. and the hardest for some

        Love how the day has brought me back here.. to find something I need to read… thanks Jacob :~)

      • good morning! I haven’t been writing on this place much but I’m delighted to see you here and thank you, June 🙂

  2. Love it, Jacob! And i love this line: “Round out the edges of your conversation with fresh compassion.” An experience i had today aides in me really being able to relate to this, right now.

    And round houses are awesome, huh? My dad had grand visions of having one built for us when i was a kid, but it never came to pass, unfortunately.

    (Paul thinks he wants a pool, but i’ve seen the work involved. i say swimming at my mom’s is the way to go.)

    • Thank you, Jess! I’m tickled you read this.
      Yeah…I intend to build one a’ these cool houses. Wow. My dad would’ve just loved them, too.

      Thanks again, my friend.


  3. Beautiful!

  4. love, love, love…thankfully there are circles inside and outside the boxes…we just have to connect to them consciously…

    what a great song! I have heard this one before!

    shared everywhere I can…

    • Lisa
      I am just so thrilled to have you as a friend. We are all finding each other–the Circle Family–and gathering in from everywhere. Our campfire is blazing higher and higher. The light grows brighter with every breath.

      Thank you for your presence here. Let us invite the world to be part of the one family…why not? They are already whether they know it or not! _/|\_

      • just realized that in addition to having a 1/2 acre garden and solar panels, my dad’s house was “octagonal” with a rectangular wing where the bedrooms were…totally forgot about that…it seemed “strange” at the time…how cool is that? My dad rocked.

  5. wonderful blog, its my dream to own one of their Mandala homes

  6. Love this post, Jacob! I just studied the history of the spiral and circle, and their symbolism as nemonic device for the tribe. 20,000 years plus of spirals and circles, embedded in our collective consciousness.

    I, too, Love the mandala homes. Fantastic!

    Blessings bright, ~Antonia/EdenSol

  7. I love circles and curves! This is a fabulous post, Jacob. It’s time to get out of the box and into the flow.

    But I do want my own pool! 🙂

  8. It’s so funny how life unfolds. Just yesterday, I found a new park here in the city, and right in the middle of it is a high plateau where some amazing trees live. I sat into one, nestling my back into her, while looking for a long time at another, noticing the circle of shadow she created on the ground. i felt at home there, and then got up and walked to my home. As I did, I felt as if I was leaving one world and returning to the other.I thank you for this sense of bringing the one back into the other.

    • ah…what a wonderful picture you paint, Julie! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your OWN “life in the round” story. That’s beautiful.

      _/|\_ namaste
      Jacob Nordby

  9. Circle energy – is how I am writing Miriam’s Secret – Midwiving the Birth of Your Inner Transformation. Was just wondering how to connect the dots – make sense of the wavy form, wavy process – it’s very watery.

    Your blog post is testimony to this way. I will keep going. It confirms that I am on the right track – not going in circles, just winding my way forward :-)…

    • Oh, yes you are! This consciousness is coming out everywhere…thank you for allowing it to come through you, too.

      Check out this site to meet another “rowdy creator”–Marjory Mejia. I think you’ll really resonate with what she’s up to as well.

      many blessings!


  10. Love this, Jacob!

    “There are no straight lines in nature.” – Gertrude Stein

    You might enjoy this:

  11. N i c e … Living in the Round…trusting the cycles and models of Life:-)

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