Chances are you’ve heard me raving about mandalas and what a powerful tool they are for mindfulness and creativity. Maybe you’ve seen mandalas all over Pinterest and you think they’re pretty, but you don’t get what the big deal is… so I thought I’d share a little about what mandalas are, and why you might want to make one.
What is a Mandala?
Mandalas are both a symbol and a ritual. As a symbol they represent harmony, wholeness and the infinite nature of the universe. As a ritual, they facilitate mindfulness and presence, and are an expression of the inner world of the artist. The word mandala is a Sanskrit term that means ‘circle’ or ‘centre’. Mandalas are among the most ancient art forms created by humans (how amazing is that?!)
Rock carvings and paintings found all over the world incorporate the circular form. The circle motif is often used to express the rhythms of nature, the interconnectedness of all things, and the cyclical nature life and death. Repetitive circular patterns are found throughout nature; built into the intrinsic architecture of our cells, nature and the universe. No wonder we are so drawn to them!
When individuals colour complex geometric forms, they are provided an opportunity to suspend their ‘inner dialogue’ and to deeply engage in an activity that removes them from the flow of negative thoughts and emotions that can sometimes dominate their lives.
– Nancy Curry and Tim Kasser
Mandalas as a Mindfulness Practice
Mandalas triggers something within us, a sacred geometry in which we recognise our self and our place in the cosmos. There are no rules when it comes to creating a mandala – simply draw a circle and fill it with whatever you like. It’s not about the final product, it’s about the journey you take in the process. When you create a mandala, it becomes an expression of your internal landscape in that moment.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung introduced to the West the practice of creating mandalas for self-expression, discovery, and healing. In Jung’s daily practice of creating mandalas, he discovered that the shapes, colours, and symbols reflected his mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being at the time that he created them. In Jung’s work with his clients, he would have them draw mandalas, observing the calming effect it created.
I love to offer my students the opportunity to set an intention for their mandala – it could be a feeling you want to embody, an emotion you want to release, or something like ‘I allow my creativity energy to express itself freely, without judgement.’
A powerful study conducted by Patti Henderson, David Rosen, and Nathan Mascaro invited adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to create mandalas of their own. Participants completed a drawing activity for 20 minutes a day over a 3-day period. The study showed that participants who created mandalas (versus those who drew static objects or coloured in pre-made designs) demonstrated significant improvements in mental health, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. These improvements persisted upon the 1-month follow-up.
When you create a mandala, it becomes an expression of your internal landscape in that moment.
Your Unique Expression
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through running my Movement & Mandala workshops, it’s that our creative expression is as unique as our fingerprints are. I’m constantly humbled by the uniqueness of everyone’s mandala creations, and it serves as a powerful reminder to me that there’s nothing to be gained from judging my own creations.
Your expression is PERFECT, and there’s no need to compare it to anyone else’s. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can see a range of styles across various cultures such as Hindu Yantras, Celtic spirals and knot work, Navajo sand paintings, Tibetan Sand Mandalas, Native American medicine wheels and dream catchers, Astrological and Mayan calendars, and Moroccan Zilij tiles (and that’s just for starters!
Awaken Your Creativity: Rituals for Nurturing Your Creative Energy is launching soon! Join my tribe to be the first to know when it launches.
Love and light,