Tranquility Practice: Creating Radiant Mandalas

Corporate Board Room at Lexington Medical Center

Corporate Board Room at Lexington Medical Center

There is a wonderful strangeness about meeting in a classic business boardroom for our Lunch and Learn series. A very large, stately, dark mahogany table fills the room. Two of the four walls are almost floor-to-ceiling glass. It is an elegant space that holds us well. This boardroom is transformed when we meet the first Wednesday of each month. Instead of left-brained corporate discussions, we hold council around right-brain, creative, soulful dialogs. We are explorers, healers of our interior worlds.

Circles of Tranquility and Peace

Each month, we gather for a little over an hour. It is supposed to be an hour long, but we always run over. No one wants to leave. Our community playfully investigates methods to engage our imaginations in the hope that our minds will quiet and the roar of worry and concern will lessen. We learn a different specific technique each month, and our creative practices are usually contained within a mandala.

Playful investigation peels away our outer layers of stress and anxiety.

Playful investigation peels away our outer layers of stress and anxiety.

If you are not familiar with the word mandala, it simply means “circle,” a shape without beginning or end. It is a symbol of wholeness, balance and renewal. Working within this shape allows us to intuitively resonate with feelings of calm, tranquility and peace. Our March post Calming Practice: Creating Mandalas explains a bit more about this process.

Beginning the Tranquility Practice

Studies suggest that taking part in a creative activity is good for your health. Imagination helps us loosen the hold on things that binds us – the well-worn, entrenched habits that keep us frozen and overwrought. The more worries we can identify and let go of, the stronger and healthier our immune system becomes. Tranquility is a by-product of all of Healing Icons’ practices.

No matter what is going on in your life, who doesn’t want to orchestrate their healing and move forward into a day that might just be better than yesterday? Who doesn’t want to revive their spirit and learn to live more frequently in a space of calm tranquility? We are here to tell you that anyone can do it. It just takes a bit of practice.

A simple clean dot represents the seed, the potential of discovery

A simple clean dot represents the seed, the potential of discovery

Our materials are simple – a blank index card, a pencil or a pen, and a scrap sheet of paper to record your feelings and associations on.

We begin by planting a seed in the center of the index card, encircling it and drawing radiating lines and shapes outward. It is as if we are creating an abstract map of our interior life. As the relaxing background music carries us deeper into ourselves, a quiet calm blankets the room.

From Art to Words

As we record the symbols and shapes we have used, our mandala’s map legend is coaxed into existence. Intuitively, we begin to freely and uninhibitedly make word associations with our core symbols and shapes. Then we link these words together with other adjectives, adverbs and verbs into a free-style form of writing in which there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, just whatever appears on the paper. We trust the process.


Just for today
She feels the beginning
Again and Again
Each Stroke, Each Breath.
Energy connecting the past, present, the future
The returning breath becomes
The beginning inhalation which becomes
The exhalation, flowing
The past flowing into the present

The present into the future
Into the beginning.
– ED

Binding Off

Just for today she feels
an aching hurt radiating off into a nothingness.
The waves of peacefulness
are extending to her soul,
binding off for a journey home.
– LD


Many ovals appear like fragile eggs
Aware of many dangers about
Questionable, fish-like, snake-like
Characters ready to devour or break me
Waves can be smoothing or frightening
I surround myself with sand
and water to feel safe.
– HMcD

From Conversation to Healing

Strong trusting bonds are created here. To know that we are not alone is a powerful thing.

Strong trusting bonds are created here. To know that we are not alone is a powerful thing.

After choosing our titles for our radiant mandalas, we unwrap our sandwiches, pair off, and the wild rumpus begins – hesitantly at first, but after a few seconds the room is filled with the healing voices of open, honest sharing.

We do not want our conversations to end, but as usual, we have run over our time allotment, and I want to get the titles recorded on our whiteboard. By sharing the titles of our radiant mandalas as a source for communal collaborative writing, we extend our personal healing into a shared space.

We gather in community not only for ourselves but for each other.

We create in community not only for ourselves but for each other.

The titles linked together created a powerful poem:

June Radiant Mandala Titles

June Radiant Mandala Titles

I Started Feeling Well Again

Beginning to be introspective
And trust my house of love and hope.
Fill me with energy, burst me open wide

I am ready for a peaceful journey
I will breathe into the chaos of emotions
Breathe into my awareness
Of the confusion around Life’s storm
Breathe into my circle of hope
Binding off into my journey of life

Consider trying your hand at this tranquility practice and see where it leads you.

We hope you will share your creative endeavors with us.


  1. Helen McDonald on June 13, 2015 at 12:03 am

    I look forward to marking my calendar each month so as not to miss these workshops. The people that I have met through Healing Icons and the work that we do together as a group help all of us to heal. We need one another. Thank you all!

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on June 14, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      Our community is strong and dynamic, open and supportive. We continue to spread our creative wings due all of you courageous survivors!

  2. Selena on June 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    I often wonder how many benefits are gained? Then I listen to the many conversations. We actually talk to each other, we share, we comfort each other. We know what it like to have “the diagnosis”. We find laughter and joy even through the darkest of times.

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on June 13, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      It is wonderful what happens when we gather in community with open hearts. That we are not alone, that we are there to listen and respect each-others voices…that we show up to be present for all is truly a gift.

  3. Donna McGreevy on June 13, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Just as our creative energy and synergy transform a boardroom to an artist’s studio, the process and experience of Healing Icons transforms the pain and scars of our cancer journey to a more fulfilling life.

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on June 13, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      Thank you Donna for all you give as an ambassador for Healing Icons. Your wisdom inspires and encourages so many that are struggling and working through cancer. You are a beacon of guiding hope.

  4. Genia Weinberg on June 14, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I was welcomed w/ such open arms & hearts! Honestly, I didn’t realize how much I needed this caring community. Their understanding & their strength helps reawaken my spirit. I’m so grateful for this organization & especially for Heidi’s warmth, passion & leadership!

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on June 14, 2015 at 10:57 pm

      Genia, We are so glad you found your way to us.

  5. Cathy Pike on June 24, 2015 at 5:55 am

    Cancer and the side effects of the treatments have changed me. I am not the same person physically, mentally or emotionally. Healing Icons helps me in discovering and accepting who I have become.

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on June 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Your comment Cathy reminded me of the wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke. In his Letters to a Young Poet he urges us to be patient with everything that remains unsolved in our hearts. “Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not love them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At the present you need to live the question…and gradually without even noticing it, you will find yourself experiencing the answer.”

      I remember the day you walked into one of our sessions. While receiving your chemo you had noticed something going on the the resource room which was located at the end of the infusion room. You asked your nurse if she could hook you up to a “roll cart” so that you could see what Healing Icons was all about. I am thankful that your curiosity led you to us.

      That was about 2 years ago and the creative process has not only guided you through your questions but you have helped so many others by being brave enough to ask them.

  6. Betsy Carpentier on June 24, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Love mandalas and hope we will have a Tibetan sand mandala in November.

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