|My original mandala drawing|
I wanted to share a very cool story and an example of how art can connect us all, even from across the ocean…
Almost a year ago a woman named Esther from the Netherlands emailed me after finding this blog while she was looking for mandala inspiration for a tattoo. She had found a mandala of mine that she really connected with and asked if she could use the imagery for her first tattoo…so of course I said YES!
A few days ago I received an email from her with her finished tattoo (pictured on left) and this is what she wrote about it:
A time ago I send you a mail with the question about your mandala drawing and my idea to make a tattoo.
So I just seemed nice to me to let you know my tattoo is finally placed on my back!!
It is my first tattoo and it means a lot to me:
It symbolizes the birth of my daughter (now 1.5) in the middle and the tiny circle. The other circles are my partner and me; both worlds come together in the middle circle and the triangle figure pointing towards it.
The details are filled with fire-dynamic elements: my constellation is aries (which is also the triangle element fire).
I feel very honored that Esther resonated with this mandala and reached out to me. I also found it interesting that when I draw these interconnected mandalas I do it as a way to explore my connections to loved ones in my life as well – how we overlap, connect, and impact one another. Esther’s interpretation of the mandala was similar in depicting the intersecting deep connections between her daughter, partner, and self.
Just as there are three interlocking circles, in this story there are three artists linking together as well! Esther is an artist and you can visit her site here: http://www.esthermeijer.nl/
And here is the site for Xander, her tattoo artist: http://www.mana-ink.nl/
While thinking about the way mandalas connect us to ourselves and to one another, I found this quote by Carl Jung to be especially relevant:
“In view of the fact that all mandalas shown here were new and uninfluenced products, we are driven to the conclusion that there must be a transconscious disposition in every individual which is able to produce the same or very similar symbols at all times and in all places. Since this disposition is usually not a conscious possession of the individual I have called it the collective unconscious.”
From an art therapy perspective, I have utilized the intersecting circle mandala drawing with my clients quite often. Each circle can represent a person in the client’s life (including the self) and I ask them to place the circles in relation to their current feelings and experiences with each individual.
Another variation I’ve used that my clients have found illuminating is to draw three overlapping circles and label one past, present, and future. After the circles are drawn or traced I encourage my clients to fill each circle in with colors, shapes, symbols, and imagery that symbolize their past, present, and future. This is a way to create a visual timeline, gain perspective on future hopes and dreams, and explore how they perceive their present reality.
Creating art within the circles is naturally centering and can help contain triggering memories while still allowing the client to review their life experiences. Art therapy group members often enjoy sharing and processing their mandala timelines at the end of group and after this experience there is often a sense of deeper connection within the group.
I’d encourage anyone interested to experiment with creating interlocking mandalas as a way to center the self and gain insight into the ways we are connected. Please feel free to leave comments and share links to your art here if you feel inspired!