Are Mandalas Good For The Brain?

I wasn’t that long ago that I had become a little obsessed with mandalas. I even attempted to convince Kate (my co-director) that Memory Matters could have a little rebrand and become Mandala Matters instead, with a marvellous mandala logo. She said “no”

A mandala is a complex abstract design that is circular in form. The name simply means ‘circle’ in sanskrit and appears in a lot Eastern cultures. In buddhism a mandala represents the universe.

In my work with people living with dementia I introduced mandalas as a simple art session and I was surprised how  calming and addictive the activity was. Initially I brought in the fallen petals from my garden. We then started to build a mandala from the middle working together in the group to ensure that each side was equal. It required team work, good communication and concentration, something the mandala seemed to bring about as it emerged.

This initial session was such a success that I couldn’t stop the enthusiasm and began using mandalas in many ways with many different people. Our groups used paper plates and paints, my children used mandala colouring sheets and pencils, I made made mandalas from shells and pebbles on the beach during family walks. I couldn’t stop.

I had introduced mandalas to every session I ran and the more we made them, the more I was convinced that they had magic properties.

Being a trained nurse however I realised I may need to back up my claims of magic with a bit of evidence… so I did a bit of a search and found a study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Associationa which showed the circular shape of the mandala serves as an “active ingredient” in mood enhancement. (Robbins & Babouchkina 2015)…So sort of magic!

Carl Jung (Swiss Psychologist) had a lot to say about mandalas as a tool for healing.

In my experience Mandalas can be very meditative to engage in. They promote mindfulness and bring you in to the present moment

  • They focus attention
  • They quieten thinking giving head space
  • Some say they create balance

Activities to try:

  • Collect stones and paint mandalas on them. Give as presents or keep as ornaments
  • Create mandalas from fallen leaves or petals in the woods and leave for someone to find
  • Search online for mandala colouring sheets and get your pencils out
  • Get a spirograph and make your own and colour them in

We’d love to see your creations, whether you are discovering mandalas as a group or are indulging on your own. Find us on Facebook!

Author: Laura Walker