MANDALA - Creativity tool for insight and healing

Lukasz Krzywon speaks with Patricia Fitzgerald from the Healing Creations about the process of working with the mandala 

You have made a mandala your career. How did you come across the mandala in your life?

I was a librarian for twenty seven years. I had always wanted to be an artist when I was younger but was told to get a proper job. So I did. I put myself through art college at night, but didn't really enjoy it and it seemed to stifle my creativity. I found a ‘proper’ job as a librarian and was awarded a scholarship to complete a degree in philosophy and sociology. In 2012, my whole life fell apart; I divorced, and was selling my home and so everything I knew was now up in the air. At that time I began to experience a huge amount of synchronicity. Ridiculous amounts of synchronicity. I began researching the concept of coincidence or as Carl Jung coined it, synchronicity. I went down the route of science, looking at quantum mechanics, and ideas such as Einstein's spooky action at a distance theory. It was then that I came across the work of Carl Jung on synchronicity. 

I think that during my life crisis, my creativity was wanting to bubble up, and I began writing a novel at that time. As a librarian, that seemed the natural route. During the summer of 2013, I brought my young daughter to Malta. She was only seven years old. She kept asking me for this little toy that you play with it that was being sold at a stall on the beachfront. I bought it for her. It was a three dimensional wire mandala that you twist to represent the planets.. I found that I kept playing with it myself; that it was something I was very drawn to. So I decided I'd have the character in the book I was writing, play with the wire mandala as a character trait. I Googled mandala and the first thing that came up was the fact that Carl Jung had drawn them in the Red Book, and there was me reading Jung's work on synchronicity! I was having synchronicity with the father of synchronicity!  So I said, “Okay, I'll follow the synchronistic breadcrumbs.” I drew my first mandala in my little journal. I found it so relaxing.  I began to draw them every day that year. I would come home from work, turn off the TV light, a candle and draw.  Meditation came very naturally with it. I had no idea what I was doing. It wasn’t until much later and after much research that I realised I tapped into something very ancient, archetypal, and healing. And I've never stopped doing it. The synchronicities have led me all the way on this magical journey.

Mandala has been featured in many cultures across the world. Are you inspired by a particular culture or tradition?

No, I work very intuitively. I think sometimes when you look at Sacred Geometry, you think you should do it this way, and this is the only way to do it. I tend to work with this very intuitively, starting with the centre point, and working outwards, I very rarely know what I am going to create. I let it lead me. I work from my heart rather than from my head, though of course the brain kicks in wanting to go a certain direction. I allow ‘mistakes’ to lead me, for example, if I dip my paint brush in the wrong colour, I'll go with it rather than fight against it. It often feels like  I create with an energy that's greater than myself. 

This touches on my next question. Can you tell us a little bit more about your creative process? Where do you draw inspiration from? And how do you know you are finished with your piece?

Most of the time I work very intuitively with geometry. And if you look at my earlier work, it was much more geometric and I would have worked on paper, so a lot of geometry and intuitive geometry. Sometimes I'd work with specific sacred geometries like Metatron’s Cube or The Squaring of the Circle. And I think that process brought me to a deeper state of consciousness. I began to have huge amounts of dreams, amazing dreams, very archetypal dreams. I then began to work with the dreams and have done work with a woman in British Columbia, in Canada called Tokopa Turner, author of the book "Belonging: Remembering Yourself Home", and it's wonderful. The dream work I have done with her has been a very powerful experience. I would often bring elements from the dreams into the mandala and sometimes the mandala will come through the dreams. So it's almost a circular process. It's like the veil between these worlds is very thin, if that makes sense. The painting is finished when I feel it is finished. It’s an inner knowing. Certainly the creative practice of mandala has connected me more to my gut instinct. 

Wherever you go now, every newsagent, bookshop, art shop offers some designs and ideas for creating mandalas. It became something of a mainstream phenomenon. But I still often get this question from people “What is a Mandala" as people still confuse the word with the famous name. So it's still quite a novelty as a word as a concept in our culture. So what does the mandala mean for you?

For me, it is a container. It's like a container of essence, of spirit. The earliest known usage of the word is from the Vedic scriptures. And it was actually a chapter of chants. So it's coming from sound. I feel sound is very related to it. And if you tried sound healing, you would feel the resonance. If you look up cymatics, cymatic frequencies, and the science of cymatics, you can see how sound becomes visual. We also talk about mantras in sound healing, when people recite mantras. The visualization of the mantra is called the Yantra. And certain yantras are particular sacred sounds.  I think that when we're creating our own intuitive mandala, it's almost our own sacred sound, it's our own connection to the universal domain, at that particular moment in time, if time exists.

I like the word container. I think that that is the essence of this for myself as well, when working with mandala. As I said before, mandala became something of a mainstream phenomenon, and a lot of people will just be colouring mandala these days. It's a very trendy thing to do. But would you say, is that it? Or is there a way of working with a mandala that is making it more than just doodling or colouring?

I think it comes to you in the way that you're ready for. Does that make sense? It can be anything from colouring one of those colouring books, where it's simply a matter of taking some time out and you're just relaxing. It will take you to the point that you're ready for at that particular time. That's my experience in working with people and working myself with it. It almost has an intelligence all of its own, that it will take you to where you're ready to go for your next part of your healing. So the initial colouring is obviously balancing both sides of the brain, the creative and the mathematical. It's like giving the "monkey mind" a banana. So it's giving us something to do so that your thought process can begin to clear and slowly  you start to move into different levels of performance, like in a video game. As you practice more and more, the deeper you go.

I think we're touching here on the mindfulness side of mandala. Is there any practical exercise you recommend when working on a mandala? Let's say when you're working with people?

I encourage people to be very intentio