As we journey through this week of the tenth anniversary of Katrina, we are seeing many reminders in the media and all around us. Some of our feelings this week may be expressed more freely with color and shapes than with words. If that is true for you, I invite you to try creating mandalas.
You do not need artistic skills to use this process. It is a spiritual process that takes you to your Heart Wisdom. It can be used any time. I sometimes do one after the other, and with each one I do, I am more centered, more in tune with the sacred Wisdom within.
The two mandalas in this post are ones I did in early November 2005. I had no words. I needed to be centered. Then I got out my mandala journal. The first one I titled “The Sun Also Rises.” The second one, “Flight: Emerging after the Storm.” I created five or six mandalas that day before I began to feel more together, more whole. In creating we are created; in giving birth we are born.
A mandala is a circular drawing which Carl Jung discovered seems to represent our inner situations at the time. The word mandala means magic circle, circumference, or center. The mandala seems to represent our natural process of growth toward wholeness, which Carl Jung called individuation. Within each of us is an image of the full human being we were created to be. The individuation process is a lifelong process of aligning our personality with this image of wholeness, with the Creator’s image of who we could become. The place within that contains the inner knowing I call our Wisdom Center, and the wisdom there our Heart Wisdom.
Creating mandalas is a way of being created while we create. It is a way of being with our Heart Wisdom in wordless ways, which we need in order to get out of our heads and into our hearts. Much interpretive work can be done with mandalas. However, they can do their spiritual work for us with little or no interpretation. The process of making the mandala is the integrative force. For detailed information about interpreting mandalas, I recommend Susanne F. Fincher’s book, Creating Mandalas for Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression and Joan Kellogg’s book Mandala: Path of Beauty.
All you really need is a piece of paper large enough to draw a ten-inch circle and colored pencils of simple children’s crayons. If you find this process inviting, you might want these supplies that I love to use:
an art journal — I like an 11×14 artist’s sketch book with good heavy paper. I have one with white paper and one with black paper. Of course, others will work fine.
a 10” paper plate to draw circles
a box of pastels
a box of cray-pas
collage materials: pieces of cloth, magazines to tear pictures from, scissors, glue
whatever other art materials you like to use–Variety is good.
- With a light pencil, draw a 10-inch circle on your paper and lay out art materials so they are easily accessible.
- Enter into a deep meditative place through your best ways.
- If you choose, read a sacred text relevant to your current life issues.
- Sit quietly in meditation, gazing at your circle and the colors you have. As you feel drawn to a pastel or cray-pas or pencil, pick it up and allow your Heart Wisdom to guide what you do with it. Do not focus on deciding on a shape and drawing it; rather follow what the color wants to do. When that feels complete, allow yourself to be drawn to the next color. Continue this process meditatively until your painting/drawing feels complete. Allow yourself to go beyond the circle if you wish.
- When you finish the mandala, lay it on the floor and walk around it until you discover what is the top of it and place a t in pencil at the top. It may have multiple tops.
- Give your creation a name. It may have multiple names.
- Write a journal entry about what you have experienced, your sense of what the drawing means for you, a reflection on the mandala itself.
- Say or write an expression of gratitude for this experience.
May you be blessed by this process not only this week but for your life.