Monday, July 25, 2011

Mandalas in Art Therapy

A group mandala showing how people saw themselves in the group.

Making a mandala is a discipline for pulling all those scattered aspects of your life together, for finding a center and ordering yourself to it.  You try to coordinate your circle with the universal circle.
                  -Joseph Campbell
                  The Power of Myth

Mandala means “magic circle” in Sanskrit.  It is a circular design that has been used since ancient times to invoke the spirit of healing.  Mandalas have been used in Tibetan meditations, the rose windows of Gothic cathedrals, the Aztec calendar stone, and Navaho sand paintings. In the East, mandalas are used as a focusing device for meditation.  Carl Jung used the mandala as an integrative and centering device in psychotherapy.
A mandala can be created as a self-symbol for a visual representation of one’s inner and outer world.  The outer circle suggests wholeness, unity, and/or the expression of your outer life.  The center of the Mandala represents your center or inner life, and/or your opening. Mandalas, or circular images, occur frequently in nature.  The mandala appears in all aspects of life: earth, sun, and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community. It is a pattern found in nature and is seen in biology, geology, chemistry, physics and astronomy.
A group mandala showing how people saw themselves in the group.

I use mandala making in therapy to help clients feel calm and centered, for self-expression and as a way to help people explore who they are in groups. The following photos are of mandalas made in a classroom showing how each person ‘saw’ themselves in the circle. They painted how much room they felt they took, how they felt their energy or self looked in the classroom and how they felt they fit in the whole. I have used this exercise as:
1.    A device to explore group conflict
2.    A visual representation for families in therapy
3.    A device to work with bullying
4.    A device to work with boundaries and shared space
5.    A tool to explore aggressive, passive and assertive behavior.

A group mandala showing how people saw themselves in the group.

 Seeing how we represent ourselves in our circle of friends, family or peers can be a powerful way to change or express our behaviour.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What is Your Play Personality?

In Stuart Brown's book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, he talks about how we have play personalities.  He offers eight different categories and he makes it very clear that these categories aren't scientifically based, but a product of his years of observation.

Where do you fit in these eight personalities?

    1. The Joker -- makes people laugh, plays practical jokes.

    2. The Kinesthete -- loves to move, dance, swim, play sports.

    3. The Explorer -- goes to new places, meets new people, seeks out new experiences (physically or mentally).

    4. The Competitor -- loves all forms of competition, has fun keeping score.

    5. The Director -- enjoys planning and executing events and experiences, like throwing parties, organizing outings, and leading.

    6. The Collector -- loves the thrill of collecting, whether objects or experiences.

    7. The Artist/Creator -- finds joy in making things, fixing things, decorating, working with his or her hands.

    8. The Storyteller -- loves to use imagination to create and absorb stories, in novels, movies, plays, performances.


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