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Mandala: Natural Art Therapy

The Mandala creates a clear visual boundary which can be grounding and soothing for a restless mind.

So I took a break and have come back a little more process orientated, a little more humbled by materials and a little more motivated to match my environmental consciousness with my art business. I have spent this week posting about Mandala’s on my instagram and thought they were worth a little more limelight. Before I get started on the many ways to create Mandala’s minus the plastic fantastic art materials, I thought I would give a brief description of where Mandala’s come from. The traditional mandala originates from Tibetan Buddhism and is a sand ritual that symbolises the interconnections of the universe; it also acts as a reminder of impermanence as the mandala’s are swept up at the end of the ceremony and ritual. Within each intricate design are different lessons, symbols and meanings. The complexity of the design can be outstanding.  There is a strong connection between Mandala’s and healing. Read more on the process of Tibetan Buddhist Mandala in this BBC article. You can also see Tibetan monks on youtube creating Mandala’s. They are pretty special.

Nowadays we see lots of mandala patters on merchandise such as duvet covers and towels and most of us commonly relate the name to strong graphic patterns rather than Tibetan Monks. The Mandala’s far reach has also led to it being found commonly in art therapy practice. The Mandala became interconnected with therapy through Carl Jung, a Swiss Psychiatrist, who had an interest in archetypes and symbols of the unconscious as well as various religions. Mandala’s are used widely through art therapy, sometimes as a tool for mindful colouring and often as a means to capture a cathartic process. Mandala’s in art therapy are often created within an existing circle (traditionally they are created from the centre outwards) and this is containing for most people. It creates a clear visual boundary which can be grounding and soothing for a restless mind. Circles are also appeasing and softer to the eye than other geometric shapes. Mandala’s in art therapy vary widely but is well summarised by Mandala for the Soul:

milk mandala

“Creating a mandala can provide a pathway to meditation and centering, giving the artist a focal point to direct his or her energy and thought. The act of drawing, painting or otherwise creating a mandala can also teach essential self-soothing skills. In other settings, mandalas can be used in conjunction with other exercises to facilitate emotional expression, and can give the artist the visual representation of a confined arena in which to place his or her anxieties, frustrations, fear or anger”

There are endless ways to create a Mandala, from pressure- easing scribbles to impermanent flower petal arranging. Here are some that will keep you occupied (also easy for children to try) and are kind to mother earth:

  • Earth Mandala Collect flowers, leaves, stones, shells and other natural material. You may have some already within your home. Arrange in Mandala pattern.
  • Milk Mandala Fill a shallow bowl with 1-2cm of milk. Drop food colouring into milk and touch with a cotton bud dipped in dishwashing liquid. This moving kaleidoscope is a popular with little hands
  • Water-Colour Mandala Trace around a large bowl or plate onto sturdy paper, apply water and experiment with watercolour application
  • Scribble Mandala All you need is scrap-paper and a pen, within a circle, scribble. Fill the spaces of the scribble with varying patterns (or colour if you would prefer)
  • Chalk Mandala  Use chalk to create a large pavement mandala. Great for groups or family time. Fill with patterns or pictures- whatever your heart desires.
  • Collage Mandala Collect fabric scraps and magazine cut outs and cut and paste to fit within a mandala. You may like to have a colour or subject theme
  • Sand Mandala find a patch of flat, hard beach sand and a good solid smooth stick and draw till your hearts content. Begin in the centre and move outwards. Can also be complete in a sand tray.

scribble Mandala