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My creative outlet – Freestyle mandalas

It is a well-known fact that art has healing effects on an agitated or a glum mind alike. I for one have always been aware of this and have often encouraged friends to find creative outlets to manage stress, anxiety, depression or even anger management. Things like this always happened to ‘others’, I would never be in a situation where I would need that advice myself.  I managed my stress with cups of tea or by spending time with friends, their kids, watching movies, listening and swaying to music or a good meal out always worked, apart from creating a life on Pinterest of course.  Life was good and in control.

A sudden job loss last March followed by a brusque relationship crisis stopped me in my tracks by June. Feelings of disillusionment, betrayal, hopelessness, denial and basically devastation ensued. Depression followed naturally. But I was a trooper; moreover these things happened to ‘others’. I didn’t need advice – not my own, not that of others.

How would my popular craft or beading jewelry ever build back my exhausted confidence?  What could drawing something on a paper do to your dying spirit? Music, even listening to it was all just noise. My eyes were too misty to read anything from a book and attention span shrunk enough to leave sentences midway – written or read. Of course none of this would help, said my state of mind.  All that I preached confidently to others, felt futile.  Despite being firsthand witness to success stories, it felt pointless to be pursuing anything creative, or anything at all. Being a screen zombie, scrolling through other people’s art on social media was nice and most of all convenient from my cocoon. I was surviving.

Surviving more often means that motivation is all too downbeat and ‘focus’ is a word for the camera. But I woke up, survived and went back to bed, day after day, until one day my sister brought home a bunch of 6”x 6” plain white cards and began drawing mandalas. A pen, a compass and a protractor were the only other things she needed.  Many afternoons I saw her filling petals of mandalas with tiny details, one getting better than the other.  A couple of weeks down the line and she had also ordered some drawing pens online, a set of 6 pens with tips of various thicknesses, which meant more scope for detailing and creativity. I had to give this a try.

I have always been fascinated by mandalas – something about the simplicity within the complexities.  There was a form yet there were dimensions and intricacies within that you could fill in as you like. I would probably call this free-style mandala or simply mandala art because in essence we are digressing from the authentic form that we know as Hindu and Buddhist symbols.  While the basic form used in mandala art is round in its first impact, what you fill in is completely at your free will.

Drawing mandalas has been therapeutic. I spent 6 hours experimenting with designs on my first mandala. This was my first healthy distraction in months. By the end of it my shoulders and arms had stiffened, but still something felt nice. Just completing the mandala felt like an achievement. The repetitive patterns felt relaxing. I made a new one the very next day and then another. I hadn’t felt enthusiasm since my heartbreak 9 months ago, but it revived and I knew I could help myself. A self-taught jewellery designer, I have my brand that had been latent as well for a while, but I made a few quick neckpieces that got sold almost as quickly. A beautifully timed push, I knew the mandalas were working.

Mandala art is now popular as art therapy and I am not an artist.  This is the block I would like to clear for anyone who feels this obstacle.  One does not need to be an artist to pursue mandala art for therapy or otherwise.  You begin with a few concentric circles and you go with the flow; finding, making and repeating patterns – that is the therapeutic part.  For me, with each mandala I drew, there was a sense of positivity.  If I did them at night, I also felt a bit meditative, slept a little better and most of all, regained focus and perseverance. The only thing that changed in the past 9 months was my energy into mandala art, and I credit this slow revival of sprit to the release I gained from it.  This is my thing for now.  I can confidently claim I am a mandala art enthusiast, looking forward to build on its therapeutic benefits while also just enjoying the process.  I am now also clearing dust off my jewellery making passion and other pursuits, creative and otherwise.

The process of mandala art (my creative outlet by chance, thanks to my sister) has cleared some blocks I had developed the past year. These blocks consequentially created further blocks in mostly all aspects of my life but hope is restored that the positivity and focus I am regaining will clear these too, one at a time. My patience is honed and I am back to where I stopped in my tracks last year; in complete acceptance of the phase that is fading away into oblivion. Everything in my life had changed; my routine, my home, my free-spirited being, and just everything else.  But hope is fully restored.

Creative outlets are essential. It needn’t take a downtime to find you one but make that a constant pursuit and dabble in anything that makes you happy, relaxed and insightful – do it now and do it often is my two bits for anyone seeking a balance.

Love and light,

Harshi

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