Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making Whole: Healing Through Art: Nature Mandala

by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal. 




We have talked about Mandala's here before, and as an art therapy device, the Mandala is a versatile tool.  Carl Jung was obsessed with them and said, "I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate."

Especially significant as a tool for healing for women, the circle symbol, often associated with the womb, or Mother, can help artists work through issues and develop a sense of wholeness and integrity. 



Start this process with an 11x17 piece of watercolor paper and your favorite medium, water color paints, markers, drawing pencils, collage materials, ... whatever. 

Draw a large circle, a mandala on the paper to take up the majority of the page. 

Now, close your eyes.  Imagine a lush forest in springtime. Everything is mossy, wet, bursting forth with life. New growth. The sun filters through a canopy of bright green leaves, you hear water dropping onto the soft earth below your feet. Blooms on tiny plants begin to unfold around you. Vines begin to climb up the tree trunks, ferns shoot up and unroll into lacy feathers. Breathe it all in.

Now fill your mandala with the life that you absorbed. 

Process notes:  

The very act of filling the symbolic mandala with imagery of new life is a healing act. Subconsciously the artist feels renewed, and refreshed by the guided imagery and by the act of creation. As the mandala is of the artists creation, she acknowledges her own ability to be life-giving, in some way, and celebrates that through use of color and line. At the end of the process the artist should be relaxed and satisfied. 

If the artist is working through a loss due to abortion, miscarriage or other grief, creating life images in a mandala helps to re-establish the artist as a life-giver, a creator.  It gives the artist time to work through feelings of guilt, regret and sadness with each brushstroke or line. 

If the artist is so overcome by feelings of remorse, sadness or guilt that she cannot draw anything in the mandala, the group facilitator would need to encourage her to take the smallest step in creating one thing, one image of life in the mandala.  A small step on the way to healing, is still a step and opens up the door for verbal communication.

 
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Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

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