I was reading recently that the psychologist Karl Jung had his patients paint mandalas as a means of treating their various mental difficulties.
He arrived at this notion, I guess, through his identification of what he called the ‘collective unconscious’, which he thought everyone shared. The idea is that, through our evolutionary development, certain symbolic associations occur which are common to all humankind. And one of these symbols is the circle.
According to Dr. Jung, the circle or mandala form conveys a sense of wholeness or self that most everyone can relate to. By immersing themselves in constructing circular paintings, his patients’ psychic problems tended to be relieved. The formations they developed in their paintings created a sort of structure that translated into a greater personal mental stability.
I’m not sure one has to necessarily paint mandalas to benefit; eastern religions have been using circular structures as foci for meditative practices for a long time. And, I’m convinced meditation is a very beneficial endeavor. I am so sure of this I’m inspired to offer a haiku:
Within the circle of self,
Clear mind, present mind.
Well, it works for me and it certainly can’t be a bad way to spend some time.