I am always looking for ways to relax at the end of the day. Sometimes it is a Netflix show, sometimes I diffuse a calming essential oil, but other times I’m looking to create something with my hands while I’m spending a few moments on myself. I already knew that knitting can be used to promote mindfulness and calming brain waves because of its repetitive nature and steady rhythm, but I was wondering if there was another craft I could complete that would have the same effect. A quick Google search and I was pointed in the right direction: mandalas.
The word “mandala” comes from the Sanskrit for circle, but it also encompasses the ideas of wholeness and unity. These pieces of art are wonderful for emotional expression, self-soothing, and calming. Carl Jung is credited with introducing the mandala into Western thought and used mandalas in his therapy sessions. Art therapist Joan Kellog built on this research by explaining that attraction to certain shapes and configurations during the drawing process can actually convey our current physical, emotional, and spiritual condition in that moment.
Nancy Curry and Tim Kasser, during a research study, found that mandalas reduced anxiety more than free form drawing or drawing irregular shapes. Patti Henderson, David Rosen, and Nathan Mascaro in a similar study found that mandalas assisted patients suffering from PTSD as well.
Mandala drawing creates mindfulness through meditation, intense focus, stillness, and attention to the present moment.
To Draw a Mandala:
- Blank page
- Permanent marker
- Chisel tip permanent marker
Begin with a small circle in the center of the page. I draw with a permanent marker so that I can paint the designs later without worrying about bleeding inks. Also, I recommend working with a marker so that you aren’t tempted to erase. The point of this exercise is not to be perfect. The finished effect of mandalas creates a unified look, even if each shape isn’t perfectly symmetrical.
Build on the center circle with different shapes and patterns. Remember to vary your shapes to create even more interest. For this mandala, I used triangles, circles, and petal shapes to build the mandala.
When there is too much white space inside a particular design, fill the design in with dots, zig zags, stripes, or even color. This will make the mandala look more complex and vivid.
Remember, this design does not have to be perfect. The end result isn’t symmetrical and each ring is full of mistakes, but the end result is breathtaking and beautiful when all of the elements work together to form this dizzying pattern.
If working with flower petals, it is sometimes hard to get them even. Try adding notches around the previous circle to determine where your petals will be placed.
Sometimes drawing isn’t perfect. If a particular shape turns out lopsided compared to the rest, then thicken the outside line with the chisel tip permanent marker to even out the shaping.
If the entire mandala is becoming uneven, add a circle around the outside of the pattern and do a few thin, patterned circles around that to even out the shape.