What is mandala art?

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Art Credit: Photography below by Jayn Roxton-Wiggill*

“The experience is like a waking dream – we dance up forgotten parts of ourselves, and release the memories stored in our muscles. Our aches and pains reveal their stories and our hidden fears unmask themselves. The experiences are deeply personal and reflect our own nature and history, yet at the same time we tap into the collective heights and depths of human experience.” Natalie Southgate

Creating a mandala art is often an unexpected joy for Chakradance participants. After we dance, we sit and using a blank circle drawn on paper and coloured pastels, we pour the energy of the dance into the circle. This is both an expression and a container for the energy and experiences raised in the dance.

These little circles contain much power and inner wisdom. I always encourage people to keep their mandalas and to meditate on them. It’s not about artistic merit, but about a message being transmitted from our spirit, from our unconscious to our conscious self.

To my mind these images are absolute gold. Some of my mandalas have provided intuitive guidance in my life, some have predicted significant situations to be on the lookout for, usually indicated by the synchronicity of seeing the same image from my mandala out in the world.

So what is a mandala? Why is it a part of the Chakradance practice? I bet you thought Chakradance was all about dancing!

Chakradance draws on the wisdom of the psychology of Carl Jung.

Carl Jung saw mandala art as a means of expression for the innermost self. Creating a mandala is both therapeutic and symbolic, the shapes, colours and designs you create in your mandala art reflect your inner self at the time of creation.

The feelings, emotions and issues you are facing in your life will be reflected in some way in your mandala.

Chakradance draws on the wisdom of Jungian Psychology in recognising the power of creating a container or space to hold the experience of the dance.

In the same way that the physical circle holds us while we dance, our mandala holds and contains the energy and symbolism of our personal dance journey.

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Being a Chakradance facilitator is primarily about creating and holding the sacred space, the sacred circle, so the dancers can feel safe and held as they close their eyes and let go into their inner dance. There must also be the sense that the circle somehow transcends everyday reality, that in this space communion with the deepest and highest parts of self is sought.

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Chakradance is a dance for healing and self-discovery.

Guided by music resonating to each of the seven chakras, you move with your eyes closed in whatever way the music inspires you.

As you dance your way through the chakras, different energies and issues will rise to the surface to process and heal.

After the dance we sit down and draw a mandala to create a visual representation of anything that arose during the dance. The creation of a personal mandala art is a way of anchoring our experiences back into our conscious world.

We create a mandala art so that we can reflect on, and express, our experiences of the dance. The circle both contains our experience and holds a healing power. The images we draw can be literal or symbolic.

In the dance, you may see images in your mind’s eye, or the mandala may represent a feeling or an insight you saw in colours, shapes, or images. Creating a mandala is an intuitive and spontaneous process. It is important to just let it unfold, without judgement or criticism.

Afterwards, the participants have an opportunity to talk about their mandala art and what the images mean to them. They often ask me what a mandala is, what is it used for?

Mandalas have long been used in many cultures and practices like Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American and Australian Aboriginal, as a symbol of the universe and wholeness.

Mandala art has been used throughout the world for self-expression, meditation, spiritual transformation, and personal growth.

Mandala is the ancient Sanskrit word for circle and is seen by the Tibetans as a diagram of the cosmos and our oneness with it.

Mandala circles are used by many shamanic cultures in healing rituals and are found in Christian cathedrals.

The mandala, at its very simplest, is a circle with a centre, a form that is ancient and is found everywhere in nature.

Just think of a flower with its petals circumnavigating the centre.

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Carl Jung explored the psychological meaning of mandalas and used them as a therapeutic art tool. He saw the creation of mandala art as symbolic of the inner process by which individuals grow toward fulfilling their potential for wholeness.

The mandala captures inner images, creating a visual reflection of a state of self as it exists in a particular point in time. Jung found the creation of mandala art assists us see the true state of our inner being.

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Jung saw these mandala art drawings as a snapshot of our innermost self at a particular point in time.

As Jung discovered, the regular drawing of mandalas chronicles our inner journey.

Looking back on my mandalas, I see how these images had captured moments in my psyche.

In my mandala art, I could see what was arising for me in each chakra.

In my base chakra, there was fear surrounding the darkness of going within, then a beautiful communion with the earth.

In the dances of the sacral and solar plexus chakras, my art expressed how the dance had enabled me to release some deeply held energy and experience a new sense of freedom within these energy centres.

These drawings are a remarkable reflection of a journey within.

So when we create a mandala art after dancing through the chakras, we capture our inner sacred space in the circle on the page.

Jung believed that mandala art could restore our inner self into order, harmony and wholeness. These precious drawings hold infinite wisdom, healing and power for us.

The best part though, is seeing the joy on the faces of the participants when they get to play with the coloured pastels, and to express themselves through creative art, something that may have been missing in their lives for a very long time.

*Jayn Roxton-Wiggill, our featured photographer this week, has kindly allowed us to use these beautiful photos of her Chakradance Awakening workshop. Jayn is a Chakradance Facilitator, Energy Artist & Spiritual Wellness Coach based in Ferndale and Randburg, South Africa. You can find her at: www.facebook.com/aura.soul.art and www.meetup.com/Chakradance-Moving-Meditation-Joburg/