Wednesday, 26 March 2014

How to get Crafty with your Mandalas

As Spring arrived I was feeling very creative and decided to spend an afternoon absorbed in the wonderfully creative art of Zentangle

I did have an ulterior motive and this involved my meditation classes.  I love using a variety of tools to show my class how easy it is to fit meditation in every day life, and mandalas are one of my favourite tools.  Creating my own mandalas using Zentangle designs is a perfect way to meditate.

I wrote an entire blog post about Zentangle during my year of challenges, you can take a look at the post here.  It shows you how to go about creating your own tangles and introduces you to my lovely friend and Zentangle tutor, Alison from Old Hall Crafts.

First of all let's take a quick look at what a Mandala is:-
  • The word 'Mandala' is Sanskrit for Circle/Centre and represents the visible world outside of us as well as the invisible one within us.

  • In simple terms a Mandala is a picture that tells us a story, it's a journey to find our inner self.  When I use Mandalas to meditate I follow the story from the outer edge, taking in the colours, pictures and patterns.  I follow this in the same way I would follow the path of a Labyrinth, until I find the centre.  I then close my eyes and notice the colours and pictures that resonate the most and decide what I need to learn from them.

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, believed that Mandalas showed our conscious emotions and our deeply hidden, unconscious thoughts and feelings.  His work meant that more and more people began to use Mandalas as a tool for self-discovery.

I love to create a Mandala when I'm feeling out of sorts or distracted.  Doing this takes the attention away from what's going on around me, and helps me focus on my inner feelings and emotions.  It's amazing what I end up including in my design when I let the pen flow.  Think about how a child can get absorbed in colouring a picture, the same principle applies here, you switch off from all external influences and go within to a place of calm and serenity.

I can also see, from the colours I've picked, what I need to work on.  For example, if I used an abundance of reds, I would be looking at a period of change in my life.  Yellow means I need to be more decisive, and blue shows me I must express my dreams.

It doesn't matter if you aren't sure what the colours or patterns signify, the simple art of doodling is therapeutic in itself.

Take a look at the photograph of my latest mini Mandalas, the top picture shows the shape of an eye.  This was not my intention, but it appeared as I doodled and I only noticed it when I started colouring in.  For me this meant that I need to trust my intuition more (for all my readers who understand chakra's this represented my 'third eye').

The beauty of using Zentangle to create your Mandala, is how a spontaneous doodle can become a mini work of art and a mindfulness tool. 

A Tibetan Mandala requires a period of meditation and fasting for three days before they even begin.  You don't need to follow these rules to make you own Mandala.

Finding a quite place to draw will help, soothing music and candles will also allow you relax but they aren't necessary.  When you are ready to get crafty follow these simple steps:-
  1. Draw the outer circle to whatever size you like.  I like to create mini Mandalas so I trace around the rim of a cup.
  2. Look at the emptiness of the circle you've drawn and imagine how you will fill it.
  3. Think about your own journey from the hustle and bustle of life to a place of peace and quiet.
  4. Try to visualise all your anxieties flowing out of your body through your fingers and toes, and a feeling of tranquillity filling you up through the top of your head.
  5. Now pick up your pencil or pen and doodle.  Nothing is right or wrong, just let the pen flow and swirl.  If you do need inspiration take a look at the wonderful tangles on the Zentangle site and copy the patterns you like the best.
  6. When you've filled your circle, colour it in.
When you use your Mandala for meditation just sit and gaze at it.  You will be attracted to certain parts.  Notice the shapes and colours your eyes are drawn to.  Sometimes it can help to let your eyes de-focus slightly.

Meditating for five minutes is perfectly fine.  When you are ready, close your eyes and remember the parts that attracted you.  What do the colours mean to you?  Is there a message?  Listen to your gut, your inner voice will often speak up when you are relaxed and aware, listen out for it.  Mandalas can guide you to what your heart desires.

Be open to new possibilities.

You could even have a go at creating a personalised Mandala as a Mother's Day gift.

What's the one thing you would like to achieve in life?  Can you use this in your own Mandala creation?  Get Crafty with your Mandalas and let me know how you get on.

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