Mandalas:  The art of centering

“There exists no circle in the world which is not made from within a single point which is located in the center…and this point, which is located in the center, receives all the light, illuminates the body, and all is enlightened.”  From the Zohar

Mandala is a Sanskrit word for circle or wheel that signifies beginnings with no ends.  The variations of patterns are endless, but each has a specific center, and concentric rings that emanate from that center.  Every culture and spiritual practice has their own representation of the circle, evident in their art, architecture and rituals.  In ancient Britain the Druids told time and performed rituals within their circles of large boulders. The circular Aztec calendar was also a time keeping device as well as a vehicle for religious expression.  The 12th century Christian nun Hildegard von Bigen created mandalas to express her visions and beliefs.  The mandala is a recurrent Christian image: the rosary, halo, Celtic cross, crown of thorns, rose windows, floor of Chartres Cathedral and more.  In Islam the entire building of the mosque becomes a mandala as the dome of the roof represents the arch of the heavens and turns the worshippers’ atttention towards Allah.  The Star of David is a Hebrew spiritual symbol.  Natives of North America create and use medicine wheels and dream catchers.  Navajo Indians spend days or weeks creating sand mandalas. Indigenous Australians have bora rings, and the Amish have hex signs on their barns. Some cultures regard the mandala as an eye of God, or of the Goddess.

Zen Buddhist monks also spend days or weeks creating a sand mandala, only to sweep it up and disperse it into flowing water, to demonstrate the impermanence of life.   According to Buddhist scripture sand mandalas transmit positive energy to the environment and to the people who view them, even after they are swept away. The circle with a center pattern is the basic structure of nature, from the smallest molecule to the conceptual circles of family, friends and community, to the seeming endless Milky Way galaxy.

Psychotherapist Carl Jung created mandalas for his own growth and with his patients and said that a mandala symbolizes “a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness.” Whatever your belief systems are, creating your own mandala design, or coloring one, lets you express yourself. Flowers, rings found in tree trunks, and snowflakes can be your inspiration.  The act of creating the mandala – with crayons, markers, paint, collage or stones — is relaxing and centering.  When you have completed it, look at what you have created.  Notice where your eyes land, and where they travel.  Then go to the center of the mandala and focus on it as you_Mandala become aware of your own center.

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