Mandalas: circles to discover yourself – Lowvelder
Perhaps the pandemic inspired you to change your lifestyle by exercising, learning a hobby, or practicing an art form?
Practicing any form of art, visual or otherwise, creates and enhances what scientists call functional connectivity. This is defined as the temporal coincidence of spatially distant neurophysiological events (Friston, 1994). Functional connectivity refers to the functionally integrated relationship between spatially separated regions of the brain.
Art teacher and art therapist, Deanne Kim de Kaapsehoop states that âart and art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses artistic media as the primary mode of communication. âIt’s a form of psychotherapy that’s well established in other countries, especially in the UK since the 1940s. It’s still relatively new in South Africa.
Clinical studies have shown that drawing mandalas strengthens the immune system, reduces pain, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and promotes sleep. Collectively, the aforementioned benefits improve physical and mental health and sharpness.
Although psychologists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud disagree on certain elements regarding human consciousness and their unconscious, it is generally believed that drawing in a circle creates focus. Jung is said to have recorded all of his dreams and then sketched them inside a circle, “It was calming and reflected the subconscious,” he observed.
Working in a circle, it is presumed, protects the artist from the scattering and uncontrollable thought patterns that are so characteristic of anxiety and conscious, subconscious / unconscious exuberance.
Well-known local mandala artist Liezel LÃ¼neburg has drawn and painted her entire life, but it wasn’t until 2016 that she drew her first mandala. âI have always been fascinated by circles and curves. A mandala is a work of patience, many hours and sometimes frustration, and the constant need to let go of the hope of getting it right. For me, finishing a mandala is a personal accomplishment.
âOver the past few decades, I have suffered from dysthymia. One of the coping mechanisms is forcing myself to focus on beauty by constantly seeking out and recognizing beautiful things, including abstract ideas and concepts. Interestingly, beauty is rarely recognized or depicted in concept art, and many contemporary works of art create feelings of unease, anguish, and even disgust. Despite this fact, many of my own works seek to portray difficult and ugly situations, for example death or Covid, through a different lens by identifying scraps of beauty in a seemingly endless dark space. Thus, I identify a specific theme for a work of art and form an idea in my mind of the general direction the project should take.
âI start to draw intuitively and I never know in advance what the final product will look like. It’s always a huge surprise. Creating a mandala is a spiritual journey, a search for meaning and purpose. It is a window to the soul and exposes the subtle imprints of the artist’s emotional struggles, search for meaning and spiritual well-being.
I am a dedicated Christian who also writes for Ekerk and indeed experience creating art as a process where I come closer to God and his wonderful creation. A mandala is an object of balance and harmony and creating one brings inner peace and perspective on difficult issues. Now, what could be closer to a prayer than the process of creating art and, more specifically, a mandala? “
Jung defines a mandala as “representing the dreamer’s search for wholeness and oneness of self.” It is a Tibetan word which means “that which surrounds a center“. âThe center in this context symbolizes meaning and what surrounds it is a representation of meaning,â Luneburg said. âI have also started to draw more informal works of art that express the symbolic and abstract meaning of a mandala rather than the physical decorative symmetry. I really appreciate that! â
A famous national geography photographer once said, âIf you are anxious and don’t know where to start, find something beautiful around you or in yourself and then add to it.
Find beauty and express it visually in a circle. After all, Leonardo da Vinci illustrated the human form, one of God’s most intriguing creations, within the circle.
Photos: Liana and Johan from Jolian’s Photography