Art Therapy Modalities | Mandala

Mandala by Anne Mandante
Mandala ~ Anne Mandante
Definition: Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning magic circle. Very simply, it is a drawing within a circle. This circle represents the totality of self "and corresponds to the microcosmic nature of the psyche." (C. Jung, 1965, pp. 195-196) Carl Jung was the first psychotherapist to employ this process, for his own healing and later with his clients.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, knowledge of the mandala in the West was confined largely to scholars of Hindu and Buddhist iconography. However, Jung, the pioneering explorer of the collective unconscious, first encountered the mandala not in a scholarly context, but in his efforts to relieve suffering - both his own and that of patients in psychotherapy. Jung had come to the realization that modern suffering was often related to the waning power of traditional religious symbolism to heal psychological fragmentation. Further, in the midst of a deep crisis in his own life, he discovered that sacred symbols - including the mandala - emerged spontaneously in both dreams and artwork to orchestrate wholeness and rebirth, independently of religion. (Cornell, 1994, p. 140)


(A Symbol of Wholeness)

A Sanskrit Word Meaning Center, Circumference or Magic Circle.

The Mandala is Cross Cultural:

Rose Windows, Notre Dame or Chartre Cathedral

Paintings by Tibetan Buddhists

Native American Shields

Quantitative research reveals a significant calming effect from completing a mandala . It is a meditative, contemplative process that is able to reduce physiological symptoms of stress within 15 minutes.

I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, a mandala, which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time. With the help of these drawings I could observe my psychic transformations from day to day. . . Only gradually did I rediscover what the mandala really is: . . . the self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious, but which can not tolerate self-deceptions. My mandalas were cryptograms . . . in which I saw the self - that is, my whole being - actively at work. To be sure, at first I could only dimly understand them; but they seemed to me highly significant, and I guarded them like precious pearls. . . The mandala represents . . . and corresponds to the microcosmic nature of the psyche. (C. Jung, 1965, pp. 195-196)

Mandala by Rachel Srubas
Mandala ~ Rachel Srubas
Why Create a Mandala?


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...I created mandalas when I had cancer and experienced a spiritual awakening. This creative process helped me to integrate the reductionism of the scientific worldview with my intuitive experiences of wholeness and luminous states of consciousness. The sacred symbol of the mandala enabled me not only to find the healing power within myself but also to recover from a sense of psychological fragmentation. During the healing process I came to experience and express mystical states of consciousness that, until then, had remained outside my grasp.

~ J. Cornell, (1994, pp. 1-2)

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