Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Art and stress

The word "mandala" is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean "circle," a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself--a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.
As and artist and a herbalist, I find holistic approaches to life have a deeper meaning to me than to some others sometimes. Now I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool lobbyist for alternative practices, but I do believe that they have a place in life alongside Western medicine and consistantly debate the use of herbal remedies against Western pharmaceuticals whenever I see my own doctor.

Its a natural progression to look to art for a calming influence and see how its original origins can spill over into the 21st century in the form of mandalas. The creation of a mandala is a class that I will offer later this year for adults. It will be an exploration of self, almost a symbolic self portrait for each individual and to serve as a stress reducer and relaxant.
Representing the universe itself, a mandala is both the microcosm and the macrocosm, and we are all part of its intricate design. The mandala is more than an image seen with our eyes; it is an actual moment in time. It can be can be used as a vehicle to explore art, science, religion and life itself. The mandala contains an encyclopedia of the finite and a road map to infinity.

Carl Jung said that a mandala symbolizes "a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness." It is "a synthesis of distinctive elements in a unified scheme representing the basic nature of existence." Jung used the mandala for his own personal growth and wrote about his experiences.

It is said by Tibetan Buddhists that a mandala consists of five "excellencies":

The teacher The message • The audience • The site • The time

An audience or "viewer" is necessary to create a mandala. Where there is no you, there is no mandala. (from: You Are the Eyes of the World, by Longchenpa, translated by Lipman and Peterson).

Have you created a mandala? If so, what was the experience like and how to you and others view the completed mandala? I will be creating my own personal mandala and look forward to the process of drawing and adding colour to it.

Here is a good starting point to learn more about mandalas

The Mandala Project

And a great sample of the relaxation factor in this virtual mandala or labyrinthe.

Online Finger Meditation


Liz @ Creative Liberty said...

What a fascinating concept. I haven't done a mandala yet, but your post made me eager to explore them through the mandala kit I picked up last year.

There definitely seems to be a "flow" factor at work here--perhaps that accounts for the stress reduction one experiences whilst working on one?

Billie Crain said...

years ago when i had immersed myself in the New Age movement we talked a lot about mandalas. i was told to ask for mine in a dream which i did. i did my wish but unfortunately never re-created it on paper. intersting that they now have a kit!

Jeanette said...

I believe that when concentrating hard on something, a person reaches 'the zone' as I call it where external noise, people, environments around them disappear and life is only where your eyes meet paper or your pencil tip lays down colour or graphite.

I know this happens to me a lot when I am heavily involved in a drawing or painting.

I believe that the same factor is in place when creating a mandala. The form itself is of interest to people and capable of most people's ability in its simplest form.

The mandala is an interesting concept and an ancient one well worth keeping alive.

Anonymous said...

I love creating mandalas,and have been doing so for the past year....I started doing them just to please myself, and also to get creative by combining different mediums.....its a real form of relaxation for me, and so enjoyable.....and you are right everything else seems to fade into the distant background whilst doing it.