Mandalas for Centering Strength

Our latest class gathered at Lexington Medical Center to explore the idea of art making as a form of healing. A few had been outside of cancer treatment for many years but still possessed a nagging fear of a recurrence. Others had just finished treatment. One was heading to Duke University on Friday for exploratory surgery, as her counts were up but the location of her cancer mastitis was unknown. One had fought with cancer five times and spoke of not being a survivor but a cancer conqueror! I found every single one of them awe-inspiring and courageously resilient!One of the most difficult challenges that go hand-in-hand with a cancer diagnosis is the loss of control. Suddenly, without warning, life dramatically changes, and with that comes mounting fears and deep anxiety.

The Art of Releasing Control

At times, this feeling is mirrored in our art and healing practices, as participants face a blank page that waits to be marked upon. Having no idea what our creations are going to look like is a lesson in trusting the process, seeing where the art-making leads us. This relinquishing of control in art-making can teach us how to trust the greater process of living and healing, as expressed in wisdom of the following poem.

by Danna Faulds

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream, and it will create a new
channel. Resist and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild with the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the door of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.

This summer, we are exploring the art of the mandala – creating within a circle. Our first workshop addressed how to let go of our anxieties through the process of intuitive mandala drawing and how to create an intentional mandala for centering strength.

Using a black piece of paper that represents the void, mystery and the unknown, we began by using a white pencil — a light wand, so to speak — to shed illumination into our drawings. Symbolically, we used it to plant a seed in the center of a circle drawn on the black paper.

Quietly, tentatively, the process unfolded, and we began to trust our hands as our pencils moved up and down, sideways and upside down, almost like doodling. Paying attention to the shapes created by the pencil and the back shapes in-between, we noticed symbols and feelings beginning to surface. These associations were written down and linked together with other nouns, adjectives and verbs to form a narrative — a message from the mandala.At the end of the day, everyone left with a lighter heart, a set of skills to practice until our next gathering and a new appreciation for the emotional and spiritual release the arts have to offer us!

Participants said:

“I learned that you can create art for yourself without concern about the appeal of it to others!”

“I thought I was not artistic or creative, but now the creative healing arts will be part of my new life.”

“I was able to delve deeper into my emotions.”

“Amazed that art is more than visual, that it can be therapeutic.”


Thank you to Lexington Medical Foundation for sponsoring these series of classes.

Join Us

In our next class, Mandalas for Harvesting Gratitude, we will learn another technique for creating mandalas.

Tuesday, July 16th
1 – 5 pm at Lexington Medical Center

To register for this free offering, call:

Libby Daniels 791-2289, or
Jennifer Peagler 791-2617

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