"Each person’s life is like a mandala – a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life."
- Pema Chodron
For three years I created intuitive mandalas as my morning meditation practice. This is the longest creative practice I have done to date. Usually, I aim to finish one sketchbook or journal that is dedicated to a particular medium or modality. This practice took much longer than I expected, as I rarely finished a mandala in my 30 minute morning meditation practice.
I always set a healing intention with every creative practice. My intention with this creative practice was to calm my mind and heal my adrenals after years of overworking in the big city. Daily mandala making seemed like the perfect meditational practice for emotional calm and spiritual deepening.
What I Learned From Creating 365 Mandalas:
This was a particularly long practice....and 6 mixed media journals later, this what I learned:
1. Creating for 15-30 minutes a day is doable. It was both fun and challenging to create within the container of the circle each day. It made my creative practice a simple, structured thing to do the first thing before I went to work. (I work as a therapist in private practice.)
2. Concentration creates calm. Having done much deep catharsis through expressive art in the past, I am now at the regulations stage of my emotional journey so drawing and colouring in small, concentrated ways were very calming to my nervous system.
3. Playing with patterns is fun! I have always loved playing with intuitive patterns, so the pattern lover in me was very content in this process.
4. Repetitive creating supports a positive affirmation practice. I was able to regularly practice soothing mantras and repeat affirming new truths because my chosen creative practice was quite repetitive.
5. Releasing emotions into a mandala is possible: A mandala represents who we symbolically are within the structure of the circle. Some days, especially when I was feeling emotional, I simply released my emotions through an intuitive drawing within the structure of the circle.
6. Mandalas are a way to focus inward: The circle offers a way to intensify focus on the inner self. I enjoyed consecrating my 15-30 morning minutes on honouring the shades and shapes of my inner world.
7. A long creative practice asked me to dig deeper: I got bored with my mandalas at times, as is common with a long dedicated practice of any kind. The boredom incited me to dig deeper into my own process and to experiment with new techniques like the collage mandalas that you see here.
8. A mandala can be left unfinished for a while: This was a pressure-free creative practice. I did not ever pressure myself to complete 1 mandala a day. Some morning I felt like drawing a mandala and some mornings I felt like meditatively colouring a mandala - I usually had 5-10 unfinished mandalas in process at all times.
9. A mandala practice is a spiritual practice: My ultimate aim was to deepen and calm into my spiritual life. As with all of my creative practices over the years, I deepened through my daily dedication to a regular practice
10. Setting an intention for any spiritual/creative practice creates change: My intention to calm my mind and nervous system were achieved. I deepened my focus considerably during this three-year practice and I really enjoyed this practice.