If you ever feel like you're running around in circles, it might be good to stop − and draw one instead. Drawing circles, or mandalas (the Sanskrit word for circle), is an ancient spiritual art used for relaxation, centering and self-reflection.
Brought into popular culture from the ancients by Carl Jung in the 1950s, mandalas have been used for dream interpretation, play therapy, meditation, and as an instrument for energetic and physical healing.
Local licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Annie Ready Coffey uses mandalas frequently, along with other mediums such as poetry, drama and dance. "Mandalas are a great outlet − an external and visual representation for us of what's going on on the inside," she says. "A mandala is about the shape and size of a person's head. They are supposed to be a part of yourself."
Coffey advocates the therapeutic value of creating your own mandalas, but there's another school of thought in the circle-drawing world. Zoe Frances, author of "Mandalas for Meditation," believes that coloring in pre-made mandalas is more beneficial for meditation and aligning the self with the greater forces of nature rather than trying to create one from scratch.
Coffey's tips for creating mandalas at home:
1. Don't try to make your mandala look like anything. Use color, shapes and representations as a way of checking in with yourself.
2. Try a series, in one sitting or on a daily basis, over the course of a week or during a rough patch. One isn't going to change your life, but if you create them regularly, you will begin to see a pattern.
3. Creating a mandala using your nondominant hand on black paper takes you deeper into a subconscious, emotional place.
Whether you choose to color in pre-made mandalas or create your own is up to you. So is the way you interpret what you've drawn. You may want to keep your circles to yourself, or you may find it helpful to gain an outside perspective about the symbolism or progression of your creations. Whichever way you choose to look through your own looking glass, more is sure to be revealed.
Resources:Annie Ready Coffey can be contacted through Arts for Replenishment and Change at 256-9650 or at www.peapod
arts.com. The Art of the Mandala Book & Gift Set comes complete with the book "Mandalas for Meditation" by Zoe Frances, 80 black-and-white mandala patterns, a set of colored pencils and a pencil sharpener.