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Draw It Out! Mandala frees your mind
By: Jessica Halman-Schmidt
   Jean worked on her part of the mandala and passed it onto Paul. As he added to it, his lines were dominant and dark, bouncing back and forth over Jean’s work, nearly obliterating it. You could feel that Jean was upset but you wouldn’t know it from her smile. Yet after the session, the group discussion led to Jean sharing her discomfort with having her work being drawn over and her own feelings of powerlessness. She decided that from that point onward she would no longer let someone else have control over her. She had begun to stand her ground, and doing so, live her truth.*
   Unlike actions and words that don’t always match, the mandala cannot help but reveal what’s really going on. An individual may pretend to be happy or a group may pretend to get along, and in these cases you may feel the truth but with the mandala you can virtually see it
   “Your subconscious mind is always trying to show you things. Whether images are popping into your head while you’re on the phone, at a lecture or watching tv, it’s important to pay attention. To ask, What are you trying to tell yourself?” David Rankine begins.
   Rankine is an artist who specializes in the healing art of mandalas. He believes that if you take a moment to stop and listen you’ll discover that your mind is telling you to speak your truth, to slow down or to just stop and take notice. He says: “You know all the questions and you know all the answers. You only have to access them.”
   Used for deep meditation, relaxation or introspection, mandalas emphasize the sacredness of the present moment. In Sanskrit, mandala means ‘circle’ or ‘completion.’ It’s an art form that’s been used by healers, shamans and Tibetan monks for centuries. Commonly known mandalas include medicine wheels and dreamcatchers and they can be found in the architecture of many great cathedrals and mosques.
     According to psychoanalyst Carl Jung, the mandala represents the unconscious self with its structure built around a center and containing images made of lines, symbols and geometric patterns. These shapes are believed to be representations of a person’s subconscious mind and are said to show one’s weaknesses and strengths, dreams and hopes.
   Mandalas literally ‘draw out’ the intentions of the artist, subconsciously. Rankine explains: “The act of drawing a mandala is a processor for dealing with the issues - bringing them up into the light of day to be reflected upon and assimilated into the internal and external self.”

   By creating a mandala, the artist views their subconscious mind and can come to powerful conclusions that may lead to healing via newfound self-confidence and awareness.

    Describing the mandala as a place to problem-solve, Rankine sees the art as a healthy vehicle that releases buried subconscious stresses to come to terms with them, and to free them in the conscious mind. Rankine says: “You feel a sense of release in that moment because now the feeling that was buried in the subconscious mind is up in the conscious realm – out into the sunlight, so to speak.”
   “In the Jungian sense, we’re loaded up with baggage from childhood and beyond. Through the mandala, we ask, How does this serve me? Is this really me? And then we allow ourselves to let go of it,” Rankine continues. By accessing these subconscious emotions, clients receive clarity on different issues that may be plaguing them. As one draws the mandala, one chooses their colours intuitively and draws lines randomly until the finished product is complete.
    Once completed, clients look at their mandala and learn to decipher the messages within. Rankine describes the practice: “Your mandala will reveal things that are bothering you. Conflicts you want to bring up are seen through your drawings and these problems can then be integrated and cast away.”
   The self-expression of the mandala should come easily and naturally. Rankine believes children do mandalas all the time and even adults create them frequently. These could be doodles or complex-spontaneous illustrations. When we notice one, he asks us to pay attention to these so-called random images to see what inner messages lay within. “Even doodling for just five minutes can lead to amazing results. Suddenly you’re calm. You’re no longer feeling upset or agitated,” he comments.
    Through self-made imagery, mandalas place your emotions and thoughts right in front of you. “You may see yourself drawing webs and realize that you feel caught in the middle of one and then you look for a resolution to free yourself from the entrapment,” Rankine explains.
     Abstract images formed in a mandala are the same forms, colours and emotions that exist in ones dreamscape. Rankine discusses how the shapes and colours chosen reflect what the artist feels and thinks. “Maybe some colours aren’t fitting together or your lines are harsh and agitated - all of this creativity is expression that’s being pushed out of the subconscious mind and into the world to be healed.”
   Rankine remembers: “Once I attended a holiday celebration with a divorced family. As they created their group mandala the tension that originally existed in the room began to clear. Suddenly everyone was joined, working together and sharing as if one unit. By having this commonality of purpose and action it made it easier for everyone to understand each other and communicate.”
   “Art therapists often ask me, ‘What’s the difference between what I do and what they do?’ I guess the difference is that I start off with a structure, a guided visualization that gives my clients a safe space to fill,” he ponders.
   By working with the mandala, one is expected to enter a process of evolution. Rankine believes that everyone is constantly evolving every day and that the experience of the mandala is just a reminder of that: “You’re always getting bigger and bigger, and there’s always space for everybody to keep on growing,” he believes.
   The mandala can become a portal to a new perspective. “All of a sudden, you’re not the same as you were before - you’ve become a new person,” Rankine exclaims. As we conclude our interview you can hear the excitement mounting in his voice and can almost envision a spectrum-filled mandala taking shape beneath his pastel-marked fingertips.
*Names have been changed
Jessica Halman-Schmidt is a freelance writer, reiki practitioner and intuitive counsellor. She can be reached at

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