As an author I need other creative outlets to help keep my mind clear and focused. I’ve always been a crafter, a doll maker, a cross-stitcher, a quilter. But too often those pursuits require a handful or more of supplies, and a large, clear place to work. Not to mention that my poor eyes can no longer easily count threads and tiny stiches. Granted, a crochet hook and ball of yarn doesn’t take up much room, but I often found myself wanting to do something... different.
Coloring is fun. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s just for kids. There’s a wealth of coloring books available—from just plain fun, to retro characters, to fashions from any age you choose. And the colors. Crayons, markers, colored pencils all give a vast variety of shades, shadows and contrasts.
But let’s transition into something a bit more complicated, an art form. The mandala.
"We dance round a ring and suppose, but the Secret sits in the middle and knows."
What is a mandala? In classical Sanskrit ‘Mand’ means to mark out, while ‘La’ is circle or sacred center. As a result most mandalas are circular in some aspect, even if the design is contained within another shape. In a technical aspect a mandala is ‘a two dimensional pictorial representation of a multi-dimensional divine universe’.
Mandalas are found everywhere, when you know how to look. Since pre-historic times people have used the circle to symbolize human and spiritual existence. Both material and non-material realities can be described by the mandala, from the celestial circles of the sun and moon to our own circles of family and friends. Traditionally, mandalas are healing, and assist in the merging of body, spirit and soul.
Prehistoric representations include cave paintings of circles and spirals. Native Americans have the medicine wheel, dream catchers and sand paintings. Tibetan monks also create in sand—intricate illustrations that are destroyed almost as soon as they are completed. Rose windows in ancient cathedrals sparkle in the sun and dance colorful rainbows throughout the sacred space. As children, many of us played with a Spirograph, unknowingly creating mandalas.
Carl Jung said that a mandala symbolizes "a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness." It is "a synthesis of distinctive elements in a unified scheme representing the basic nature of existence." Jung used the mandala for his own personal growth and wrote about his experiences.
So, a mandala is an actual moment in time that can be used to explore art, science, self, spirituality and the wholeness of life. It is a structure of integrated shapes organized around a center, unifying point.
What, then, makes a mandala a creative outlet? Isn’t coloring a waste of time?
Creating/coloring a mandala is an active, contemplative process. If you’re able to be still and meditate, that’s excellent. But there are those of us who, for one reason or another, don’t find meditation calming. (Go figure—there’ve been times my blood pressure goes up after a session of meditation.) But, when focusing on the design, the shapes and colors, the same benefits of traditional meditation can affect the mind and body.
Working with mandalas can promote inner calm and contentment for an overall sense of well-being. Who doesn’t need calm in our rush-rush, deadline stressed world? Once we recognize and understand the stress we can release it from ourselves. Ever notice how tight and achy your body becomes when stress settles in? A few calming moments coloring a mandala can facilitate healing.
What would help in your writing career? Increasing the ability to concentrate, solve problems, actively brainstorm new plots or simply work out a ‘nothing’s happening’ middle? Take a little time out, find some colored pencils or your favorite markers and color. While part of your mind is actively choosing pleasing colors and creating your design, your writer-mind is solving those problems. There’s a tendency to worry at a problem or talk it to death, when all we need do is set that concern on the back burner for awhile. Let it simmer without being disturbed and do something else.
Focusing on a mandala, both in the creation and coloring of the art and then studying your completed drawing give your writer-mind time to work. Sometimes words and conscious thoughts fail, but perhaps the answer may be illuminated in the images, symbols and colors of your mandala. Then you’ll find it easier to access personal higher wisdom and explore the depths of your creativity.
If you find coloring mandalas beneficial, then try creating your own. There’s a number of sites and videos online to show you how. Just put mandala in your favorite search engine. But be aware, once you start looking at all the beautiful and remarkable examples, it’s hard to stop.
Keeping a mandala journal will deepen your experience. You’ll return to using words to record your realizations and insights. Journal immediately after working with a mandala, or after you’ve had some time to process your insights. Fair warning—a mandala doesn’t discriminate. Some of your realizations may not be inspiring. Like any meditative process, the mandala reveals the truth of what you need in that moment. Remember to acknowledge the negative as well as the positive—whatever comes to the forefront is important.
Japanese Zen abbot Sengai (1750-1837) maintained that the circle represents infinity, the origin of all beings—but infinity itself is formless. The mandala symbolizes the sacredness at the center of everyday reality. The center of the circle is formless and dimensionless, boundless and eternal with no beginning and no end.
You can find any number of compelling mandala coloring pages online. Give coloring a try and let loose your boundless and eternal creativity!
*Lizzie Starr always made up games and stories to keep her company, so, a witch lived in Grampa’s weather research station and was only held at bay by waving a certain weed. An ancient road grader morphed into boat a carrying wild adventurers to islands filled with sheep that turned into lions and cannibals. Now, filled with fantasy and love, the stories of her imagination have found their way into the mundane world. And when *lizzie has to return to that mundane life, she’s *the Lunch Lady* at a private school.
Author and lunch lady~~what a combination!
*Lizzie adores hearing what you think about her tales of romance with a sparkling twist. You can visit her blog, her website, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon author page, google+, Goodreads or contact her at:email@example.com
Double Keltic Triad Book Four
Just when Bryce decides to give up looking for the masked dancer who captured his heart and get on with his life, his darlin’ daughter climbs onto the lap of a captivating woman in a coffee shop and calls her Mommy. He certainly wouldn’t mind exploring the possibility.
Carrie’s vacation is over. Although she loves her job, she dreads returning. Especially when a blonde-haired cherub insists she’s ‘Mommy’. Add the girl’s intriguing father, and Carrie believes she’s finally ready for a real relationship. But memories of a horrific attack surface, bringing doubt and fear.
Then one of Bryce’s fathers is kidnapped by a cult. Not knowing if the abduction was of human or Fey origin, Bryce must chance seeming crazy and losing Carrie with tales of the Faerie Otherworld. Dare he take her to Faerie and declare his love—or are the forces aligning against them too much to overcome?