Thursday, October 29, 2015

Setting the Mood with colorful Mandalas. (Review)

Wikipedia describes a Mandala as an Eastern Indian religious symbol representing the Universe. Its basic form is a square with four “gates”with the general shape of the letter T, and within this square is a circle and a central point. Depending on the various traditions and practices, a Mandala can be used for focusing a practitioner’s attention or for meditation, although the word in current usage, may also represent a chart, a diagram, or any geometric repeating pattern.

In general, the traditional Hindu  Mandala is a symbol through the orientation of the central area and is said to represent alter and temple with the central point representing the Godhead at the center of all things. Tantric Mandalas comes from this same source and is drawn or painted to help aid in meditation or marked out on the ground for ceremonies.  Eastern Shingon Buddhism shows the Mandala as a lotus with the center and individual petals as the image of the Buddha. Japanese Bddhis regard the concentric design of the Mandala to be representative of the two complementary and identical aspects of the supreme reality. Tibetan Mandalas is used as a guide for the imagination during meditation. In contemporary psychological symbology, Carl Jung said a  Mandala was the symbolic representation or “nuclear atom” of the human psyche and the pictures were used for meditation and to bring a sense of inner peace. The roundness of a Mandala represents wholeness.

I tried my hand at coloring a Mandala a few nights ago. I had felt restless and bored and wanted to do something but wasn’t sure what. It was late, so I thought it best not to drag out all of my art supplies. It was then I remembered I had printed out a Mandala awhile back. I got out permanent markers and found a comfortable spot to sit and color it in. It took about an hour to finish the whole Mandala and I do have to say while I was coloring it in, paying attention to the detail and the symmetry of the design as I worked on it, that I did find I had a sense of calmness after coloring the Mandala. While not everybody is on board with the religious aspects of Mandalas, which is fine, coloring a Mandala is still time well spent as they are beautiful when finished.

Here are some places on the web where you can find free Mandalas to print and color in. the first site, called The Coloring Castle, although seems to be more kid-oriented, I thought was great because it was simple to download and print out and they also have A LOT of other free coloring pages. The great thing about these pages were that they come up as pdfs that are easy to print, no hassle, no popups, etc. has pages for both adults and children that are printable and able to be colored online, which is handy if you don’t have a printer. The sites states there are “237” Mandalas to color, and they want you download them, so “buyer beware” on that account. I didn’t try downloading any of these pages.   

Another site for children that offers offer “free” Mandalas to color is called Cool Coloring Pages. This site also has it set up where you go to another site in order to download each individual page, although they do offer a Mandala coloring book for sale. 

I offer these reviews as some general information, and don't endorse any of these sites in particular. With the popularity of Mandalas right now, there are hundreds sites online that offer what they term “free” Mandalas to color. One should always use caution when using any new sites. While there are reputable sites, there are also many sites out there who either add annoying cookies, try and take your money for things you didn’t want, or at worst, put malware or a virus on your device, so please be careful. 

I think if you are handy, you could probably create some interesting Mandalas on your own by drawing a large circle, marking off equal sections, squares, and draw in symmetrical figures or whatever pleases you to create. No matter your level of expertise,  it can still be pleasing to the eye and also give some self-satisfaction and of course, enjoyment.  Namaste -Marie Helena

Sources: (2015) “Mandalas.”
Chevalier, J, Gheerbrant, A. (1994). A Dictionary of Symbols. “Mandala.” New York, N.Y. Penguin Books.

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