“Mandala” is the ancient Sanskrit word for circle and the art of making mandalas has many benefits for centering and contemplating wholeness.  This is a technique I learned in graduate school for the art therapy program I was in that I have used personally and professionally for many years.  Mandalas are becoming more common than when I studied in the mid-80’s and I am glad to see that many people are discovering the benefits of making them for improving focus, reducing stress and anxiety, alleviating depression and experiencing a calm, relaxed state of mind.  In past years of counseling with children and teens, making mandalas was a frequent tool that my clients preferred to traditional talk therapy and one that I found works well with groups too.  It really is a simple activity to start with a circle and a pen at the very center to create a design that fills up the white space.  This one has watercolors added to it but they can be made with any sort of art materials.  There are pre-printed templates for coloring that are a great way to start but I prefer to make my own starting with the empty circular shape. 

There are many books and workshops with professionals available to learn more about this ancient activity that originated in Hinduism and Buddhism where the mandala was viewed as a symbol of the Universe.  Many approaches to making mandalas and common uses of the practice view the mandala as a reflection of the Self.  One book I love is Mandalas by Judith Cornell; and another is, Creating Mandalas: For Insight, Healing, and SelfExpression by Susanne E. Fincher.  There are many more, just google mandalas and try it sometime!


To Honor St. Francis of Assisi

WP_20130915_056  St. Francis of Assisi is celebrated on this day, October 4, and in honor of his Feast Day as the Patron Saint of  animals and the environment, I share his own famous prayer and cherished words.  I envision walking a labyrinth and hearing his words, which I especially needed to hear this morning when I stepped in the river of pee my dear yellow lab/pit bull mix Roofus left in the kitchen.  I was bleary eyed and not feeling awake, on my way to make coffee when the unpleasant incident occurred causing me to curse not bless my dog on this of all days.  It didn’t help that it was the fifth time this week that he suddenly couldn’t hold it until the morning and Pedro or I found ourselves mopping instead of waking up slowly with a warm mug of brew.  So, while I need forgiveness for my angry, unkind thoughts, I know God and St. Francis have mercy on my soul and I can only strive and desire to be more like him.  Here’s to you, St. Francis, and I raise my cup to you!

“O most high, almighty, good Lord God, to Thee belong praise, glory, honor, and all blessing.

Praised be my Lord God with all His creatures, and specially our brother the sun, who brings us the day; fair is he and shines with a very great splendor; O Lord, he signifies to us Thee.  Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon, and for the stars, the which He has set clear and lovely in heaven.

Praised be my Lord for our sister water, who is very serviceable unto us, and humble and precious and clean.  Praised be my Lord for our sister water, who is very serviceable unto us, and humble and precious and clean.  Praised by Thou, my Lord, for our brother fire; he is bright and pleasant and very mighty and strong.  Praised be my Lord for our mother the earth, who doth sustain us and keep us, and bringeth forth divers fruits and flowers of many colors, and grass.

Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon one another for His love’s sake, and who endure weakness and tribulation.  Praised be Thou, my Lord, or our sister, the death of the body, from which no man escapeth.

Praise ye and bless ye the Lord, and give thanks unto Him and serve Him with great humility.”  St. Francis of Assisi