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Creating Mandalas
by Carol J. Merrick

Mandala, a Sanskrit word for circle, has been used as a tool for transformation since the beginning of time by every culture in the world. It has many purposes, for instance, healing and connecting us to Divine Energy, or our intuition, our creative self, the Source of unconditional love, our Higher Power, or whatever concept we use to describe that part of ourselves beyond knowing. When we are connected, we receive information in the form of healing symbols. Since the information is non-verbal, the mandala often gives us insights that we could get in no other way. In addition, the process is often fun and stimulates our creativity.

The process of creating a mandala puts us into an altered or meditative state, which slows down time and helps us to become more mindful, more intentional, and more loving. We become channels for Divine Energy or find a deeper form of self-expression. The healing qualities of the mandala touch us on a physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual level. The process often opens our hearts to unconditional love from a Source beyond ourselves not only for our healing, but also for others, and even the world. For instance, in my own experience, I asked for a transformation concerning my sister and our relationship. I began with a written intention asking The Divine for a change that would benefit both of us. During the creation of the mandala, I came to understand that the way to my desired path concerning my sister was to give and receive unconditional love--and nothing more. I heard and grasped this message on a deeper level than ever before.

Mandalas can be created individually, alone, or in a group. Some groups, such as the Tibetan monks, create traditional, patterned mandalas using colored sand with the intention of creating peace in the world. When creating such art, some people will feel a calming, relaxing effect while for others, such as I, it is pure joy. When we unlock the sacred, creative aspects of our Higher Selves, we make the invisible, visible. The mandala becomes a doorway into our deeper spiritual nature. This can happen during the creation of the first mandala, but sometimes it takes more than one effort. The potential is always there, and the experience is unique for every individual.

Sound and light are the major components of the mandala. Studies have shown that sound changes us at a molecular level. "In the beginning was the Word." All we have to do is listen to different types of music to see its effects on us. Light is energy, waves, and a manifestation ofthe Divine (making the invisible, visible). During the mandala process we create healing symbols and with sacred ritual infuse them with Divine energy. Their power can be felt long after the mandala is completed and the messages we receive can change as we meditate upon the mandala.

The mandala process does not come out of our rational mind. The less we "think" the easier the process becomes, not that doubts and fears won't surface, since that too is part of the journey to creation. When the fears arrive, we bring our focus back to our intention, the music, and the light. The grateful manner in which we receive these symbols or gifts from the Source enhances our work and helps the mandala to become healing art for ourselves, others, and the world.

During the Mandala Workshop that I lead with artist Roberta Silker from Montana, we join with others and create a Living Mandala by developing and maintaining sacred space. Participants come away with an enriching tool of transformation which can become a spiritual practice. Theprocess is accessible to everyone because of the relatively low-cost of the materials: colored and white pencils, and black paper. In addition, creating this type of mandala can be done almost anywhere.

The beauty of the mandala process is that it transcends all religions and can connect us at a spiritual level one to another. In addition to helping us heal, it's a method to assist us in becoming more mindful and loving toward everyone and everything.

My intention is that everyone who enters the mandala workshop/doorway will experience the wonder and grace of their Divine/Creative Self and connect on a new and deeper level with themselves, each other, and discover how mandalas might fit into their lives.

Carol Merrick, writer, artist, activist, teacher, and healer, spends much of her time organizing and teaching mandala workshops and is one of the founders of the EarthSave Chapter in Portland. The Portland area workshop, "Journey Within the Sacred Mandala,"will be held at the Oregon Coast as a retreat October 27-29. For more information, please call, 503-968-5838 or e-mail