What is a Mandala (really)?
You may have seen these radially symmetrical spheres in ‘adult mandala coloring books’ in the last few years, or maybe you were lucky enough to catch buddhist monks creating a temporary sand mandala in your town to demonstrate the impermanence of life.
Have you seen the Central American Aztec calendar or heard of the Christian nun Hildegard von Bingen who created circular, unifying artwork in Europe in the 12th century? They use symbols common to all humankind – a party in our collective unconscious.
Whatever your experience, mandalas are a cross-cultural symbol for our place in the cosmos. The circular reference is a universal representation of cycles in life and the changing nature of our earth, the sky and the orbital patters of the sun, moon and planets.
I may be getting a little woo-woo here, but I’ve been freaking out on how cool mandalas are, and how simply repeating shapes in a radial pattern can make the most amazing designs.
Remember the first time you made a Spirograph? You put your pen in the hole, and after a few false starts, you found your rhythm of going around and around the circle to create those overlapping, intertwined, perfectly spaced representations of the universe, right there on your next door neighbor’s pad of multi-colored construction paper. You were right there with the best of them, participating in the ancestral art of circle making.
Neuroscientist Jordan Gaines Lewis explains in this article why coloring mandalas is good for our prefrontal cortex (the decision-making business end of your thinker). Then there is this study from the American Art Therapy Association that concluded mandala coloring ‘induce(es) a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from anxiety.’ Who isn’t anxious about something?
Take 15 minutes and join me for a creative play date to color a mandala.
Download and print the free Mandala Color Sheet, pick a quiet spot, grab a cup of tea, some riotous colors and dive in!
If you haven’t already gone out and bought them for yourself, don’t forget to give Santa your Holiday Wish List for ideas on a variety of mouth-watering colors and must-have supplies to keep the Spirograph-making kid inside you happy.
Is a relaxing holiday possible? Maybe… just use this repeated soothing symbol to remind you that it doesn’t have to be a hectic time of year.
- Mandalas are representations of our place in the cycles of time and the cosmos.
- Making simple decisions about what color should go where is good for your brain.
- Easily dial into the collective unconscious – consider mandala coloring your phone.
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