If you are a somewhat spiritual or mindful person, chances are you have encountered Mandala art in your adult life. Whether it is on the wall of your yoga studio, the theme of a friend’s tattoo, or on the cover of the colouring book you received at Christmas, the ancient Mandala has secured itself a place of recognition in today’s conscious community. What many people don’t realize is the spiritual significance behind these ancient designs, and the way in which they can facilitate meditation and that sought after “calm” we long for in today’s hectic and fast-paced society.
With its roots in early Hinduism and Buddhism, Mandala Art stems from countries such as Nepal, India, China and the Tibetan Region. The Mandala (meaning “circle” in Sanskrit) represents an infinite universe, intended to be a visual depiction of life itself. While there are different types of Mandalas, their premise is to enable the individual artist to identify their place in the world and identify their personal and interconnected journey.
Originally used as a guide for self-examination, purification and healing, the use of Mandalas has developed into a widespread and mainstream tool for meditation. Whilst the way we interact with mandalas has changed, the root cause for interacting with them is not drastically different than it was hundreds of years ago. Each Mandala is different; influenced by the journey, connections and stories of the individual creating it. Monks believed that the stillness and contemplation involved with creating Mandalas resulted in a higher level of consciousness and enlightenment for the individual.
Fast forward a few centuries and this search for enlightenment is as relevant as ever before. Between forging a career, raising a family and planning for the future, taking time to be alone and to be completely present can seem like a distant and unrealistic possibility. However, as studies around mental health have increased, the consistent results showing correlation between meditation and happiness cannot go unnoticed. What used to be a practice reserved solely for religion, is now increasingly regarded as a prerequisite for a healthy life.
While the process of creating Mandalas has historically been a long and spiritual one, today Mandala art translates into an easy and effective tool for mindfulness practice and meditation. Regardless of your religion or “artistic ability”, taking the time to design or colour a Mandala will enable you to release the busy mind, allowing your creative mind to run free. Along with detaching from thoughts and calming the mind, this form of meditation has proven to reduce stress levels and alleviate anxiety. Creating Mandalas (in their many forms) is a great way to find a middle ground on the spectrum of life’s busy-ness.
So the next time you are craving some calm, take a lesson from Buddhism and delve into Mandala Art. Pause, and recognize how your body and mind are feeling – especially the connection between the two. After you’ve worked with the mandala, come back to that thought. How have you improved that connection? How are you feeling about your day? The answers – but especially the feelings – will surprise you!
Note: Whilst mandalas are a good art activity and are great for encouraging mindfulness, they are not the same as art therapy. Art therapy is all about the art process, and is supervised and supported by a qualified art therapist. Click here to find out more about our art therapy sessions.