Updated: Jul 28, 2022
Mandala, Sanskrit for “sacred circle,” is a powerful and beautiful tool utilized in art therapy. Mandalas are circular forms and are well known in the realms of spirituality, mindfulness, and wellness. These captivating images can be made by anyone, no matter the age.
Carl Gustav Jung, a psychiatrist who has done profound research on the subconscious, introduced Mandalas from their eastern origin to western society. He found mandalas to be "a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness," a pathway for productive self-reflection.
Mandalas can serve as a visual representation of the combining dualities within ourselves. When we begin to visualize our honest self, we can begin to accept ourselves as we are and work on actualizing our best self. Furthermore, the process of focusing on the circular nature of mandalas prompts necessary self-reflection.
In addition to its soothing properties, art therapists can help us analyze the nature of the mandalas created. Art therapist Joan Kellogg is well-known for creating a system of interpreting mandalas for art therapy purposes. Her intricate system of analysis allows us to begin to interpret the “physical, emotional, and spiritual” self from the mandalas created.
Moreover, a mandala when created by a child may be one of their truest representations of the self as it can unveil aspects of their subconscious. The mandala allows for a child to follow their intuition regarding color and focus on the geometric patterns. Creating mandalas helps a child trust their own intuition---an essential skill to learn at a young age.
This is why we incorporate mandalas into our programming when we notice our children are feeling anxious or nervous. First we set up, calming slow music to reaffirm our safe space. We integrate coloring intentionally, in the beginning, to encourage self-reflection and focus on themselves. When they feel ready, we invite them to talk about their process, how they are feeling, and to even create their own mandalas.
When the children finish their mandalas they leave with a greater peace, sense of accomplishment, and are equipped with a new simple tool to process their emotions. Learn more about how we incorporate mandalas and other stress-relieving tools into our powerful programming by visiting our activities page.