Exploring Mandalas for Focus
I recently had a discussion with a buddy of mine who is practicing mandala therapy with her speech impaired partner and she asked me about using mandalas for focus.
The idea behind mandala therapy is that the process of creating a mandala and usig it to engage the mind and soul in such a fashion so as to release distractions and focus intensely on expressive creativity and communication.
Working With Mandalas for Focus
Working with mandalas (like coloring them, drawing them or even doodling in a circular-vortex way) is a unique practice that can be much more illuminating than typical artistic practices. This deep expressive value is due to the mandala’s circular & seemingly endless nature.
Why might this be a big deal? Because at the end of the day, the creative seed nestled deep within our souls must be free to express its vibrant energy outwardly (out through the body, through our environment and even throughout our world).
Mandalas As Tools for Spiritual Focus in Various Cultures
Interestingly, other ancient cultures have drawn concentric circles (like mandalas and/or bulls eye’s) to illustrate this very concept.
Native Americans have been drawing swirling circles or concentric circle symbols that expand outward from the center for eons. For many Native cultures, these repetitive organic patterns represent various forces within the universe converging with The One…the One Spirit, god, the one energy that animates all that exists.
Similar mandala meanings come from Buddhist and Hindu practices, in which mandalas are drawn or meditated upon as a way to conjure inner peace, balance or that zen state of oneness. In this light, the mandala is a brilliant tool for spiritual focus.
In Christianity, a version of the mandala is seen in rose windows (also known as Catherine windows after Catherine of Alexandria). These are stained glass features commonly found in the Romanesque period of history and featured in cathedrals. The circular, kaleidoscope effect of rose windows is thought to produce harmony with God, a unity with divine presence. In alchemy, circular symbols are highly regarded as transforming banal (base or superficial) thought-experiences into divine, enlightened experiences. This shifting is the essence (in alchemical terms) of turning lead to gold on a metaphysical level.
Symbolic Features of the Mandala for Focus
We can compare a bull’s eye to the mandala. It’s all about moving from the center and creating change outwards.
The inner-circle represents the self, inner consciousness, the soul, or the stillness of mind…with the external circles representing the waves of influence our center-power has over everything else.
The very nature of bulls eye (as an aiming device) and mandalas commands our vision to focus. As we look at it, our eyes (spiritual and physical vision) tend to immediately concentrate on the center…that’s the beauty of this symbol and process… it herds the wandering mind into a corral of creativity.
Tips to Creating and Using Mandalas for Focus
Making your own mandala is as simple as grabbing a pen or pencil, drawing a circle, and feeling where your next artistic flourish will come from. Yup, it really is that easy. The beauty of creating and using mandalas for focus is that you are the designer, creator, and architect of your own soul and art. Moreover, the point of making a mandala is to observe where your creative spirit takes you and then witness the effects of your mandala-making process. At the end of the day, this is your deal, your mandala, and your expression of focus, freedom, spiritual journeying, and creativity. Here is are a few loose tips to creating mandalas for focus to get you started.
1) Realize this is not an assignment: I see way too many mandala practices go downhill real fast when people approach it as homework or some kind of project to check off a to-do list. The process of diving into divine insight and generating zen-like focus with a mandala is best approached with an attitude of childlike enthusiasm and authentic joy. Remember that it’s not the objective or the destination that matters. Why? Because the process of making and working with mandalas is what leads to the objective. In other words, the joy is in the journey…not the end-result.
2) You be you. There isn’t a wrong way: The pathway to uplifting, creative rejuvenation in mandalas is all about narrating your own story in mandala form. Your mandala will not look like the perfect circular designs you see in coloring books or graphic artists’ portfolios. It shouldn’t look like those other versions either. You are unique, and your mandalas for focus, spiritual enhancement, or personal expansion will be unique too. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if you’re a classically trained artist, or if you have troubles drawing a stick figure…it’s not talent (or conceived lack of talent) we’re aiming for here. We’re aiming for a ritual, a ceremony, a creative process that stills the analytical mind and frees the spirit within you to fly, expand and express new insights.
3) Start simple and feel your way: Start with a circle, and then draw another circle in the center. Then add loopies, swirlies, doodlies (yes, those are technical terms for creative mandala crafting). Or, start with a simple spiral….keep spiraling out and see how you feel. Again, the objective is not to make the prettiest, most intricate mandala. The practice isn’t about rendering a Da Vincian mandala (although that’s cool too). The core purpose of creating a mandala is to feel your way into the patterns of the cosmos. Feel your way through the circles, spirals, and loop-do-loos…realize you are replicating patterns of your soul and visual rhythms of the universe. This is a personal ceremony for intensifying your inner vision and deep awareness…it’s not an art contest. Approach your mandalas for focus or transformation with the simplicity of a raindrop, or the purity of a flower spiraling out to reach the sun. Ditch the analytical designer mentality, and start feeling your way through the process, loving the simple joy of it all.
Whatever your approach, I do hope this article inspires you to try creating mandalas for focus and illumination. Please try it for yourself. Start scribbling spirals, circles, etc. See how liberating this practice can be to loosen limitations and free your creativity.
To help you with your divine doodling, I’ve written a few articles on mandalas that might be illuminating. Check out the links below. As always, thanks for reading. If you liked these ideas, please feel free to share on your social’s! Thank you!
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