When someone says they use mandalas in healing, what images does that evoke? An adult coloring book with intricate and symmetrical mandalas? Someone with a ruler and other drawing tools meticulously sectioning off a circle to get the perfect balanced mandala? How about mandala dot painting on rocks?

All of these are mandalas (a circle). All have benefits, many which can feel meditative and healing. However, there is another use of mandalas in healing and therapy work that can provide a look into the unconscious and create powerful forces of insight and change.

Freely drawn, intuitive mandalas simply start with a circle outline and then whatever shapes, lines, and colors feel right are placed on the page. There are no rules. The drawing can stay contained inside the circle, the boundary can be reinforced, color can extend beyond the circle, and the circle can be completed ignored. Taking quiet time to allow intuitive images and colors to emerge allows us to express and uncover the deeper parts of one’s self. It helps express what there may be no words to express. It helps us uncover what is emerging but is not yet clear. Drawing in this way can also tap into our intuitive wisdom for healing and show us the answers to our problems and path forward.

Joan Kellogg, an art therapist, developed a standardized system of shapes and colors and how they relate to psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual development. She was keenly aware of the universality of color meanings as they relate to nature and symbols across cultures. Even if you don’t choose to have a full MARI (mandala research instrument) experience with a trained practitioner, adding intuitive mandala drawing to your regular introspective practice can be a great journey of self-discovery and healing.

As Joan Kellogg says in her book, Mandala: Path of Beauty, “There comes a time that one becomes aware that one is not making the mandala, but the mandala is making you.”

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About the Author: Dalena Watson
Dalena Watson is a Licensed Professional Counselor, EMDR clinician, Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery, and Board Certified-Music Therapist. She has been trained in and using the MARI system for over 20 years. She has worked in mental health, music therapy and wellness for 30 years providing individual and group therapy to all ages. Dalena incorporates a wide variety of healing and spiritual modalities in her work.

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