Circles are a powerful symbol found in every culture. We see them in halos, prayer wheels, and other religious symbols, architecture, and nature. Mandalas are sacred circles that have been long been used to facilitate meditation in the Indian and Tibetan religions. People create and look at mandalas essentially to center the body and mind.
Mandalas are entering medicine as a healing tool. An increasing body of clinical trials suggests that meditation can boost the immune system, reduce stress, combat depression, reduce pain, lower blood pressure, and stimulate the release of melatonin, a hormone believed to slow cell aging and promote restful sleep.
Mandalas are not just something to look at or meditate on. There are now mandala coloring books. Coloring a mandala using pencil crayons, crayons, paint, or pastels combines the benefits of meditation and art therapy.
People who color mandalas often experience a deep sense of calm and well-being. It's a simple tool that doesn't require any expertise, but it can be remarkably soothing and nourishing. Mandalas not only focus your attention, but allow you to express your creative side, which many of us neglect in our daily lives.
They can be particularly useful for:
- children - coloring mandalas can help children deal with emotions and cope with illness. Instead of verbalizing their feelings, many children express themselves through color and art. Psychologist Barbara Sourkes, PhD, has used mandalas with children at hospitals.
- people who cancer or terminal illness - The University of California at Irvine Cancer Center and the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center are just two cancer centers that have offered mandala workshops to cancer survivors.
- people who are trying to quit smoking - for the same reason that many smokers take up knitting when they quit. Coloring mandalas keeps your hands occupied and relieves stress. You can bring your mandala book with you so you can pick it up for a several minutes at a time whenever you have the urge to smoke.