Creating mandalas is one of my favorite art exercises, both to incorporate with art therapy clients and within my own personal artwork. For those unfamiliar with this term, ‘mandala’ is a Sanskrit word originating in ancient India, loosely translated to mean circle. However, a mandala embodies much more than a simple shape. Created in the form of circular patterns encompassing a center, the mandala represent wholeness, a reflection of the artist and their connection to the larger whole. This micro/macro pattern can be seen as a metaphor for the structure in most of life. Throughout history, cultures all over the world have connected to this image. Artistically and spiritually, the Navajo Indians and Tibetan monks use sand mandalas as a way to demonstrate and explore impermanence. Architecturally, we see mandalas in Buddhist stupas, Muslim mosques, and Christian cathedrals. The mandala pattern is also commonly found in nature, biology, geology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Think about the cell and it’s nucleus, the earth and it’s core, a sunflower, a snail’s shell. Begin to explore the mandalas that surround you on a daily basis. They're everywhere! Use this as inspiration for creating a mandala of your own. This can be done with any type of art material- pencils, markers, paint, collage, sand, etc.- as with most art therapy directives, it is much more about the process than the final product. Imagine the mandala as a story, an abstract self-portrait representing wherever you are and however you’re feeling when you sit down to create. So pick the materials that speak to you and create your own unique version. Enjoy!