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Mandalas: The art of centering

“There exists no circle in the world which is not made from within a single point which is
located in the center…and this point, which is located in the center, receives all the light,
illuminates the body, and all is enlightened.” From the Zohar

Mandala is a Sanskrit word for circle or wheel that signifies beginnings with no ends.
The variations of patterns are endless, but each has a specific center, and concentric rings
that emanate from that center. Every culture and spiritual practice has their own
representation of the circle, evident in their art, architecture and rituals. In ancient Britain
the Druids told time and performed rituals within their circles of large boulders. The
circular Aztec calendar was also a time keeping device as well as a vehicle for religious
expression. The 12th century Christian nun Hildegard von Bigen created mandalas to
express her visions and beliefs. The mandala is a recurrent Christian image: the rosary,
halo, Celtic cross, crown of thorns, rose windows, floor of Chartres Cathedral and more.
In Islam the entire building of the mosque becomes a mandala as the dome of the roof
represents the arch of the heavens and turns the worshippers’ atttention towards Allah.
The Star of David is a Hebrew spiritual symbol. Natives of North America create and use
medicine wheels and dream catchers. Navajo Indians spend days or weeks creating sand
mandalas. Indigenous Australians have bora rings, and the Amish have hex signs on their
barns. Some cultures regard the mandala as an eye of God, or of the Goddess.

Zen Buddhist monks also spend days or weeks creating a sand mandala, only to sweep it
up and disperse it into flowing water, to demonstrate the impermanence of life.
According to Buddhist scripture sand mandalas transmit positive energy to the
environment and to the people who view them, even after they are swept away.

The circle with a center pattern is the basic structure of nature, from the smallest
molecule to the conceptual circles of family, friends and community, to the seeming
endless Milky Way galaxy.

Psychotherapist Carl Jung created mandalas for his own growth and with his patients and
said that a mandala symbolizes “a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness.”

Whatever your belief systems are, creating your own mandala design, or coloring one,
lets you express yourself. Flowers, rings found in tree trunks, and snowflakes can be your
inspiration. The act of creating the mandala – with crayons, markers, paint, collage or
stones -- is relaxing and centering. When you have completed it, look at what you have
created. Notice where your eyes land, and where they travel. Then go to the center of the
mandala and focus on it, at the same time becoming aware of your own center.