Mandalas are very popular these days, both buying the artwork and drawing mandalas yourself. The paintings that you buy are, if well-done, like a key that unlocks the spiritual dimension inside of you. But when you draw them yourself, they can be even more effective: the exact key for where you are, right now.
I discovered this secret after years of playing with these “art meditations.” It was a natural progression, one that could happen with anyone. Once I figured out how to make nice mandalas, I spent a lot of time looking at them. I was admiring them, of course (a special treat because I am not artistically gifted). But in time I noticed something interesting. I loved each and every mandala…the day I created it.
Drawing Mandalas of the Moment
Well, maybe not as briefly as one single day, but there was a definite time-frame, it seems, for each mandala. By the time I felt called to draw a new one, I would now love it the best, and the old ones didn’t seem as wonderful as they had in the beginning. They had faded into mere acceptability, their sparkle gone.
It made me wonder… What was going on?
It didn’t have anything to do with my skill level or the objective beauty of the mandala, because in hindsight I could see that some were more visually pleasing than others, and not always the most recent were the best. But that didn’t matter when they were new. Every new mandala drawing seemed the most wonderful creation yet.
It didn’t have anything to do with the “artistic process” either. I had wondered whether it’s normal to love something you make, at first, but this certainly isn’t true for other things I do, like writing. Nor do my artist friends experience this “love at first sight” with their work.
I came to see that the mandalas weren’t changing… I was changing.
And each mandala was a perfect snapshot of where I was – emotionally, psychologically, spiritually – at a particular time. That’s why I loved them so much in the moment: they were mirrors of my soul state. That’s when I knew that drawing mandalas can be a perfect tool to liberate our hidden truths, help us know ourselves, and evolve. I began working with my mandalas – reading them, I call it – in much the same way as you can interpret dreams.
“Reading” A Mandala
After drawing mandalas, I would ask myself questions about them – both the process and the results. Here’s an example of interpreting the process:
- Did I work inwards from the edge of the circle, or outwards from the middle? Or did I skip around?
- What does that mean about the way I am living my life now?
This is the yoga of mandalas. My life showed up in my mandala drawings. If I was very goal-oriented, focused on getting things done, my mandalas would be very busy and dynamic. If I was feeling adrift, not quite knowing what to do next, that showed up as large spaces of nothingness in my mandalas.
There was a period of time, for instance, when I always started drawing my mandalas in the centre, creating a pattern there. Then I would go to the outside edge, and work in towards that centre. But often I could find no way to connect the two. In all my mandalas from this time period, there was a big gap in the drawing, between the core and the outer edge. This confused and frustrated me for months, but eventually I came to see that this was a perfect depiction of my life at that time.
I was striving to find a way to take my talents and skills – all the inner development I had done – and bring it out into the world. I had no idea how to bridge that gap, and my mandalas of the period showed it.
Healing the Suffering
There was another gift to this process of reading my mandalas. Working with the mandalas helped me soften my sense of frustration and struggle. I could see that there was a beauty, an openness, a sense of potential in the “spacious” mandalas. This helped me relax into the discomfort of not knowing what was coming next and accept it as part of the art of living my life.
I began to trust that in time those blanks would fill themselves in, as indeed my mandalas began to do as the issue was resolved in my outer life. Which came first – the “filled in” mandalas or the bridging of my work into the world? I can’t say for certain. It was a process, not a sudden change. It seems to me, though, that the mandalas and my life worked together…the mandalas helping me relax so my life could move forward more easily, and my work in the world helping me connect the core with the rim in my mandalas.