Never heard of a mandala? Maybe you’ve heard of them, but had no idea they could improve your wellbeing?
Have a read of this great guest post by Nan Berrett.
You feel like grabbing a handful of your hair and pulling really hard, but you know it’s not going to help.
There are plenty of tricks you can use to help your mind de-stress – it’s just a matter of finding something which works for you and gives you the results you need.
Our minds are constantly filled with clutter. Some of our thoughts are useful, but many are just distracting ‘noise’ which are tiring in their own right. When we are stressed there is an additional persistent humming in our heads which focusses on our fears and anxieties – and this is the most difficult noise to silence.
If we are fearful of an outcome, worried about our relationships with our lovers, families or friends, concerned about looming deadlines, unfinished tasks or general overload because we take on too much, then it becomes important to try some calming techniques for the mind.
Mandala is a Sanskrit word which means “circle” and although it is a spiritual and ritualistic symbol associated with Hinduism and Buddhism, it can be used as a tool to allow your mind to problem solve and find calm.
In spiritual practice Mandalas are often created using coloured sand and form intricate and exquisitely beautiful patterns, but for our purposes we will create a Mandala using paper or card and a handful of coloured textas, pencils or crayons.
How to create your own mandala:
Start by drawing a circle on your paper – use the boundary of a saucer rather than a dinner plate. Somewhere inside the circle, not necessarily the centre, draw a representation of your anxiety. This can be as simple as a symbol, a letter of the alphabet, a stick figure, or even a word.
Take a black texta, pen, or pencil and, starting from just outside the boundary of the circle draw parallel lines, like a little road, and wind this path within the confines of the circle, until it reaches your anxiety drawing. This bit can be tricky and you’ll have to concentrate, drawing one side of the track and then the other side, so you keep the path even.
When you finally get to your goal you can start the fun part. Choose your first colour and begin to fill the track – you can use the same colour all along, or you can change colours. While you are colouring in start thinking about your anxiety and consider some of the strategies you could use to eliminate it from your life or fix it.
When you’ve finished the path, it’s time to colour in the remaining white space – this is your Mandala, so you choose how you want it to look. Draw patterns, dots, block colour, whatever you feel drawn to do.
You’re almost finished – take the black texta and go over the lines of your path again and make them stand out. Add some shading if you want to. Pop some edging onto the boundary of the circle and you’re done.
Sit back and admire your work – it looks pretty good!
You may have had some emotional reactions when creating your Mandala. It’s not unusual to cry, or even start talking to yourself while you’re working. There’s nothing wrong with showing some emotion.
Look at your Mandala and trace the path from the outer edge to its windy end. Every turn represents a new thought about the problem, a memory, a decision.
The Mandala in the illustration above was one I drew years ago when I was having some serious issues with someone I considered my best friend. At the time I felt betrayed and abandoned, but by the time I had finished the exercise I had remembered all the great things about our friendship and that I was as much as fault as she had been. It gave me the clarity to approach her and mend some bridges – best thing I ever did.
Nan Berrett is a communications consultant who also workshops strategies to support positive emotional wellbeing outcomes – these include creating and walking labyrinths, journaling, creative writing and poetry.