The circle of peace
Drawing mandalas can be relaxing and meditating, and is a form of art therapy
Mandalas have always been popular as an art style, but many are now using it as a form of art therapy. Initiated by Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychologist in the 1920s, he popularised Mandalas and the concept of art therapy. He saw the circular designs as a representative of one's total, complete self. In his Red Book, Jung has included a collection of Mandalas and drawings that helped him confront his inner thoughts and emotions.
Art itself is therapeutic. Mandalas (Sanskrit for "circle") were seen to represent the cycle of life itself, of the world, and of the universe. Mandalas are a form of Eastern art, having originated in early Hindu and Buddhist art. Indeed, the Buddhist 'Wheel of Time' is a famous instance of Mandala art and can be seen to symbolise the entire universe.
Mandalas are highly therapeutic because of their intricate circles because drawing symmetrical images ensures you focus and pay all your attention into the drawing, allowing you to clear your mind of any distractions and obtrusive thoughts. Many art therapists and psychologists recommend the art of mandala drawing, because of the mindfulness required when creating symmetric, circular patterns.
Regional art teacher and Mandala art instructor based in Dubai, Aishwarya Deshmukh, first started drawing Mandalas as a way to deal with a sense of impatience and restlessness. "I wouldn't be able to go for a movie, or to the salon because I couldn't sit still for that long," she says.
"I started drawing Mandalas as a way for me to focus on doing one thing." Now, she has found a sense of peace and calmness in drawing intricate mandalas whenever she can, and the process helps her focus. "Whenever I get the chance, I draw Mandalas - on the newspaper, on magazines, napkins, anything," she laughs.
Armed with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts, she uses art as a way to stabilise and focus, and help her concentrate on one given task, which also creates a sense of peace and tranquillity at the thought of a job well done. However, she says that it is not necessary to have an Fine Arts degree to create Mandalas.
One benefit of Mandala art is its inherent freedom in its form; there is no set formula that one must follow to create Mandala art, and anyone is free to create his or her own interpretation of mandalas.
Student Nasrin Nazar also draws Mandalas in her free time, and considers herself to be an avid fan. Moving from typical intricate designs, she has branched into creating 'themed' Mandalas, and has created designs inspired from Marvel movies and popular TV shows. Studying architecture at Manipal University Dubai, she talks about the struggles of entering a new art form.
"As a beginner, you might get frustrated, but later you might never be able to remove it out of your system. It really calms you down after a point."
There are a variety of Mandala workshops offered in Dubai, including online classes on www.skilldeer.com, where you can book classes with instructor Aishwarya Deshmukh or Mrinal and have classes in the comfort of their homes. The Jam Jar in Dubai also offers classes in Mandala drawing and painting, located at Alserkal Avenue.