Sunday, February 8, 2009

What is a Mandala?

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning holy or magical circle. I first learned about mandalas in a dream work class I took for the art therapy curriculum. Psychologist Carl Jung began drawing circles and designs and noticed that they somehow corresponded to his inner situation, feelings, impression, and thoughts. He concluded after some study of the matter with his own drawings and also the drawings of his patients that these circular drawings were therapeutic, first to draw, then to look at. Jung finally arrived at the conclusion that the Self, the wholeness of the personality, is reflected in the mandala. He felt that the mandala that a person spontaneously drew in any given moment was a gentle reminder, or urge to live out that person’s potential, something he called the person’s total personality which he called individuation. He felt that attention to the symbols the unconscious gave in response to queries for deeper meaning could enhance and speed personal growth and understanding.

How I Create a Mandala Painting

When I have a dilemma or when feeling a need to get in touch with myself I create a mandala. I created my first mandala as a project for the dream work class in 1989 and have been making them ever since. Some days I choose to listen to music while creating mandalas and other times I prefer the silence and sounds of birds or wind outside my window. In the process of creating a mandala I find that a meditative state naturally occurs.

My first Mandala to help me process the recent loss of my mother has two versions. As I began painting the flowing line across the page, it reminded me of an iris which was the flower I chose for the funeral spray. I played with the image as I painted while listening to meditative music. I thought of nature as I quickly painted the background, but was not thrilled with the results. I was drained and decided I would return to the painting the next day.

First Version

Second Version

I felt the need for a dark, earthy background which is challenging to obtain with watercolors. Persistently, I painted the background twice drying the paper between applications. In this version the mandala stands out with no distractions and feels important. The role my mother has played in my life. Psychologically speaking it is very symbolic of the spray of orchids on Mother's wooden casket.

I will continue creating mandalas as my healing process..........

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