By Katherine Crosby
The word mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle” or “center”. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung created mandalas in his own art and began observing them in the artwork of his patients. He recognized the relaxing and calming states that creating mandalas induced as well as their ability to reflect the unconscious self. In a child’s artistic development, the ability to draw a circle, or a mandala, is considered to be a crucial milestone and is one of the first forms created once a child moves past the scribble stage of artistic development.
Mandalas have been used for healing for thousands of years. People from different cultures have been using them to represent many different things including spiritual consciousness, enlightenment, harmony, healing, and unity.
Children with Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can benefit from activities that promote relaxation and centering. Children with this diagnosis typically display impulsive behaviors and have a shorter attention span than other children of the same age. Studies have shown that children with ADD/ADHD showed a decrease in impulsivity and an increase in ability to attend after creating a mandala.
Mandalas also have been found help both children and adults suffering from anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. The circle represents a safe and contained space. Creating artwork inside the circle can help silence a person’s inner critic and induce a calm, meditative state.
Adults and children alike can benefit from the healing powers of the mandala. Pre-drawn mandalas can be found online to print out or you can create your own mandala by beginning with a circle on the center of the paper and working your way to the center of the circle. Most people experience stress, difficulty focusing, or anxiety at one time or another. In order for us to take care of others, we need to take care of our selves. Practice some self-care and give mandalas a try.
Katherine Crosby is an Art Therapist at Live Oak Children’s Center.