A cyclical framework for mandala painting

The circle is the most democratic shape – every single point of the circumference has the same distance to the centre, but mostly importantly, what goes up, has to come down. Like in life – think about the journey of the sun (or any other astral bodies) through the sky, spring peaking into summer and then turning into autumn and winter, the phases of the moon, the cycle of water. In ourselves we can notice the circle of life, the natural journey from birth to death, the circadian cycle, the breath, but also the alternation of emotions in our hearts, patterns of behaviours and perhaps nudges by life trying to get us aligned with our purpose.

What does that have to do with mandalas?

Well, as we discussed before, mandalas are artistic representations of the cyclic nature of life but also of the continuous journey between the depths of our Beings through the personality and the outside, through how we move into the world. In and out and then in and out again ad infinitum. It happens so quickly we don’t even notice!

In the last few months I have been immersed in Studio Medulla’ s work in cyclical living and circular design, in particular from the point of view of female cycles. I’ve been very inspired by Anna Buzzoni’s comparative analysis of cycles and, by synchronicity, realised the way I teach mandala painting aligns with Studio Medulla’s Cyclical Blueprint™. Let’s see how.

According to the Cyclical Blueprint™, every cycle has 4 stages, each stage with a series of specific qualities. Here below the 4 phases and their characteristics explained through the seasons. The same blueprint can be applied to many other cycles, such as the circardian cycle, breath, digestion and menstruation.

The cycles of mandala painting

Creating a mandala entails first drawing symmetrical patterns and then painting the shapes emerged through the use of the method. The 4 stages of natural cycles and their qualities are a framework through which we can understand both the process of drawing and painting as two interlocked cycles, and the method in its entirety.

The qualities that characterise each phase of natural cycles are the same in the steps involved in creating a mandala according to our method.

Let me explain through the model here below.

The Centre

At symbolic level, the centre is a space of silence, of stillness, of connection with our deepest Self. It’s the space of relaxed awareness, from where everything starts and where everything ultimately returns. In our model, the centre is the linchpin between the two interlocked cycles.

At cyclical level, it’s the start of the journey, phase one.

Drawing

  • Phase 1 – Centering in ourselves, we observe silently what happens inside of us. 
  • Phase 2 – Following the method, we start tracing lines with compass and ruler, without thinking, without planning. This is a chaotic phase but with an internal order created by the method itself.
  • Phase 3 – The paper is completely filled with lines… a very intricate, chaotic mess with its own internal order!
  • Phase 4 – Little by little, we start erasing the excess. We take away lines and make space, letting our unique shapes arise. That’s why another name for this step is ‘Emergence’.

Painting

  • Phase 1 – Again in the centre, often contemplating the drawing from an altered state of no mind
  • Phase 2 – Here we go again with a flurry of creativity – with colours this time. Ready, steady, go!!!
  • Phase 3 – The shapes are saturated with colour… we are finished… apparently….. surely??!
  • Phase 4 – This is the phase we add depth to the whole thing, where the mandala literally take on its light (and shadows), where we go deep to give it tridimensionality. Usually this is also when we see something missing, when there’s space for a spark of imagination, a sudden creative flair.

By being cyclical, the method taught here at Aletheia Therapy and Mandala is an organic process, with its own specific phases every student travels through, experiencing a range of qualities and a range of energies.

The method closely follows nature and its rhtyhms and, like nature, it heals.

Join us at one of our workshops and experience the beauty of this process!

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