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Expressive Art Activity: Mandalas

Today I chose to focus on an expressive art activity to explore my inner self.

Before we dive into the creation of Mandalas here is some background information. Mandalas can also be referred to as circular forms. "In Sanskrit, the word Mandala means 'sacred circle,' and Eastern cultures have used specific mandalas for visual meditation for many centuries" (Malchiodi, p.122).

Although mandalas have been around for some time, Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist is credited with introducing the concept to Western thought.

Take a minute to think of what a circle represents to you. What images come to mind? How do you feel? Keep all of that in mind as you continue reading.

The circle has been an important visual throughout history. When you think of a circle you may also think of the orbit of the planets, the Milky Way, the movement of the sun and moon, the change of seasons, and the circle of life. Jung thought that mandalas corresponded to his inner

situation. "He believed that mandalas denoted a unification of opposites, served as expressions of the self, and represented one's total personality" (Malchiodi, p.123). He also believed that mandalas could serve as a way for humans to resolve conflicts and dilemmas. Hence, why I choose to complete a mandala drawing today.

"For many people who are struggling with emotional or physical problems, the mandala can emerge spontaneously" (Malchiodi, p.123). In my current case, the pandemic that is COVID-19 is an emotional problem for me, and could also be argued as a physical one. Of course, this will be different for everyone.

I decided to draw this mandala in an attempt to better understand my emotions. I am trying to heal myself, to nurture my soul. Since mandalas are "often associated with a feeling of wholeness, growth and the birth or emergence of something new, or a new understanding of the self"(123). I figured this was the best place to start.

Making Mandalas

You will be creating an image within a circular space. This can be done with whatever materials you have access to pencils, crayons, markers, pastels, colored pencils, paint, really anything you would like.

Since making a mandala drawing can be very relaxing and meditative, I like to start the exercise by playing some relaxing music. I have two go to playlists on Spotify that I use for activities like this, or when I'm painting.

The Piano Guys and Soundtrack to Study

After establishing a relaxing space, you can begin to draw.

Step By Step

1. On a sheet of paper, use a pencil to trace a plate or use a compass to make a circle. Or you can draw the circle freehand.

2. Using the drawing materials you have selected, fill in the circle in any way you want, with colours, lines, and forms.

2. Using the drawing materials you have selected, fill in the circle in any way you want, with colors, lines, and forms.also extend your image outside of the circle as well. You can use a variety of shapes and colors, you can also create patterns. The design is completely up to you.


1. A permissive attitude: creativity flourishes where there are no judgments, preconceptions or biases. Make sure you are prepared to let go and break the rules and assumptions you hold.

2. Let go of your concerns about what others might think. Trust the process, do not rely on the praise of others. This is for you.

3. Let go of self-criticism. Yes, you probably have laundry or other stuff to do, but take this time for yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to explore your creative side.

4. Accept that there is no right or wrong.

5. Develop an intention. It takes commitment to develop your creativity.

Below you will find my mandala creation. I found the entire process very therapeutic and relaxing. I will be drawing another mandala after day 7 to see how my inner self has changed.

Hope you have fun creating. If you would like, post your creations below, I would love to see them!


Malchiodi, C. A. (2007).The Art Therapy Source Book.McGraw Hill.


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