Members of our family have lived to over a hundred years, which is great news, right? I mean, longevity is a boon that healthful practices and evidence-based medicine have made possible; however, the flip side of it is that we now also have more loved ones living with dementia.
Dementia is NOT kind – not to the person whose memory is failing (among other things), and absolutely not to the caregiver who is witness to the devastating transformation. The pandemic and the many lockdowns resulting from it have prompted a lot of discussion around mental health – it pushed me to look at ways of staying physically and mentally fit in the face of all of the awful news of struggles and loss.
I am trying many things – am learning how to play guitar (a teen dream of mine); tried my hips at hula-hooping (broke my knees – figuratively, but ouch! failed); skipping rope (ouch, ouch, ouch, failed); water color painting (am making progress); and, more recently, Mandala making, which this post is about.
Mandala art has become quite the thing in pandemic season, in case you haven’t noticed. And rightly so, since the art form – a geometric configuration of shapes and symbols arranged symmetrically in ever-widening circles – is akin to a spiritual journey, with the inner truths meeting – at some point – and interacting with the outside world.
I did not train for it – I realised only later that it helps if you first draw concentric circles and segments and then layer the symbols etc inside them. My Mandalas are therefore lopsided. But that didn’t faze me in the slightest because my purpose was different…
Here’s an example of the first one I drew:
Before you say anything about its beauty or its shape, read on…
My purpose in creating Mandalas was to use my non-dominant hand (the left one) so that hitherto unused areas in my right brain would be stimulated to develop new neural connections. I’d read that having spare connections available – a neuronal reserve – is always good and could help counter some of the neurodegenerative effects of aging. Sounded plausible to me and hence this foray into left-handed Mandala making.
Here are Mandalas two, three and four:
The first thing I noticed was how closely my artwork resembled the Corona virus – the very creature I was trying to avoid by staying socially isolated and doing spiritual things! Erk!!
The second thing was that while drawing I often couldn’t see the emerging shape because my fist or my fingers would be obscuring it. Clearly, I need to shadow my niece – who is left-handed and a talented artist – and learn exactly how she holds the pen/pencil and how she positions her hand. Poor girl – she’s going to be peeved – she doesn’t like people peering over her shoulder as she creates.
So, that’s my Mandala story, folks. I plan to join a short online coaching class to get another perspective on Mandala making, so stay tuned. Mandala amateurs and artists are welcome to share their tips and tricks in the comments section.