Mandalas

Recently I was given a thread bracelet with a mandala charm on it by my cousin Stephanie. It was a Dogeared bracelet, a brand I really love. Inside the gold box the bracelet was wrapped around a card that read:

“Representing awareness, optimism and abundance, the gratitude mandala is a symbol of wholeness often used for meditation and healing. The circular layers can calm your mind and reveal inner truths about your journey. Wear your mandala as a reminder to be thankful for all the universe has to offer.”

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I recently got back into meditation after I stopped for almost a year. This bracelet was the perfect gift to symbolize my return. I started at my beautiful bracelet and began to really think about mandalas and all that they mean.

In my Art Therapy courses we often begin class by working on a mandala. They do not have to be intricately detailed or geometric. We pretty much just began with a circle and work inside that contained space. Sometimes I, or my classmates, create patterned mandalas like the one on this bracelet and the ones you see in many coloring books. But sometimes we focus on different things  – color, shapes, words, emotions – that make for some “non-traditional” (I guess you could say) mandalas. The possibilities are endless as long as we remain inside the walls of our stenciled circles.

Mandalas are spiritual symbols that represent the Universe. Mandalas are common in Hindu and Buddhist religions. Mandalas represent wholeness, as a circle is a never-ending shape. Mandalas are often used in meditation as a way for one to reflect on their path and their life. They are commonly used in art therapy as a way for a person to quietly reflect on their inner selves and express what is within.

In just two short days I am headed to Thailand, a country where Buddhism plays a huge role in society and history. I plan to meditate every day. Maybe I will create a mandala while I’m there to use in my practice. I am curious to see if I come across mandalas during my travels and if so, the ways they are used and incorporated into Thai culture.

I have traveled to Europe quite a few times but I have never been to Asia before. I am venturing completely out of my element and I could not be more ready. As gorgeous as the artwork may be in Paris, for example, with all of its magnificent museums, I am so ready to experience the artwork Thailand may have to offer. I’m excited to go somewhere that I will not be visiting a famous art museum. I want to experience the local art of vendors, villagers, and every day people.  I’m not sure what I will come across, where I will come across it, or how … but I know it will be great.

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