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  • Writer's picturemarti mcginnis

The Quiet Calm of Making Mandalas

If you can stand it, these are the times of great self awareness for many citizens of the United States. Not just personal awareness but an awakening to some hard realities of the country at large. We are long overdue for some deep examination into unhealthy old practices that have caused our citizens to not be equal. Not actually. Such discussions are beyond the scope of this blog, but I mention it to demonstrate why I've been feeling so unsettled for many months now.

Anthropologist Wade Davis describes how Covid-19 has exposed some of the main flaws of the current state of American leadership and politics in this article. Mr. Davis writes:

In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.

Ed Yong, of the Atlantic, has also written on this topic of American uncertainty and decline. He says:

The future is uncertain, but Americans should expect neither a swift return to normalcy nor a unified national experience, with an initial spring wave, a summer lull, and a fall resurgence. “...
What’s happening is not one crisis, but many interconnected ones. As we shall see, it will be harder to come to terms with such a crisis. It will be harder to bring it to heel. And it will be harder to grapple with the historical legacies that have shaped today’s patchwork.

You can read the full article here.


Derek Thompson, also of The Atlantic, wrote way back in March of this year:

... in the United States, the pandemic has devolved into a kind of grotesque caricature of American federalism. The private sector has taken on quasi-state functions at a time when the executive branch of government—drained of scientific expertise, starved of moral visionhas taken on the qualities of a failed state.

You can read the full article here.


Again, I'm not sharing these articles with you as a means to try to convince you of anything beyond explaining the background to my ongoing sadness and fear surrounding the viability of my country going forward. I have been deeply disturbed by the politicizing of mask wearing and social distancing as well as the ongoing out of control spread of Covid-19 throughout the U.S.

Symptoms include:

  • sleepless nights

  • a gripping tightness across my chest

  • a need for 'comfort food'

  • a withdrawal from news

  • an inability to engage with creative projects that used to provide much satisfaction

  • an unsettled need to completely redefine who I am in the context of what's coming, whatever that is!

  • ongoing uncertainty, emotional confusion and anger at all the elements causing the unrest

I could go on. But in order to create a new way of being as events continuously unfold all around me I have come to understand that it is up to me, and me alone, to get myself back on a track that gives me renewed Purpose in this changing world.

So I meditate, give myself upbeat creative assignments, and connect with others readying to bring updated ideas about themselves and their purpose into the changing world.

Enter Drawings of Hope and Mandalas

In this post I inserted 3 of my most recent drawings. Each is a visual representation of a time spent contemplating the above types of truths and the path I want to create through them. I'm thinking of collecting them along with short inspirational notes to be a book to help other carve their own way forward. More of these to come.

And more recently I intentional adopted the task of creating a mandala as I contemplated these issues and my way forward. Like the above referenced drawings I drew this mandala on my ipad. I like the esoteric nature of the end result as well as the fact that it easily inserted into the book to come.

Mandala drawing requires just enough creativity to engage most of the brain, while being relaxing enough due to the repetitive and circular nature to feel good. It is truly a calming form of meditation.

In this mandala I celebrate the calming energy of some of the animals in my life who are very much helping me get through the darkest hours.

In Dog We Trust Digital Mandala


Below are some of the resources I shared with my Creativity Club cohorts in our most recent session.

Sand Painted Mandala

Watch these Tibetan monks create an elaborate, deeply contemplative sand mandala over 5 days:

Linda Laino

Check out the mandala work of my friend here in San Miguel, Linda Laino. Her work is absolutely exquisite! Her mandala gallery.

This video shows her progress on one of her pieces.


The Five Components Of A Mandala

There are five primary components of a mandala: symmetry, geometry, color, number, and intention. By becoming aware of these attributes and consciously combining them, we can use mandalas to not only transform and empower the spaces in which they are hung but the lives of those who view them as well.

  1. SYMMETRY - Studies have shown that symmetry brings about feelings of balance, harmony, and peace.

  2. GEOMETRY - Mandalas usually begin with a circle. Its form is the embodiment of perfection. It has been used throughout history as a symbol for God; the self; the passage of time; and more.

  3. COLOR - Color and color combinations can be used to more quickly bring about healing, prosperity, transformation, and much, much more.

  4. NUMBER - The study of numbers, or numerology, plays an important part in empowering a mandala. Numbers, like colors, have various meanings and characteristics associated with them. By choosing a mandala that resonates with a specific number, you can more fully bring the characteristics of that number into your life. For instance, if you are looking to become more intuitive, you may want to work with a purple / violet mandala that has seven radiations (spokes) since both purple and the number seven work to increase intuition.

  5. INTENT - By setting a clear intention to use with the mandala you select or commission, you are choosing to activate it for a particular outcome. By doing so, your chosen mandala will forever act as a symbol of this intention and as a tool to help you achieve it.

These five components work in tandem to empower each mandala, thereby transforming both the spaces in which they are hung and those who view or work with them.



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