Part 4 – The Meditative Reflection of Flower Petal Mandalas
This is a four-part series on DIY flower arrangements and the mental benefits of floral therapy.
・Part 1 – Introduction to the Power of Flowers
・Part 2 – Floral Healing through Preparation
・Part 3 – The Art of Ikebana
・Part 4 – The Meditative Reflection of Flower Petal Mandalas
Flower Petal Mandalas – a Connection With the Universe
What if you don’t have a vase, or want to try a different kind of flower arrangement? A flower petal mandala is another wonderful form of flower arranging that involves mindfulness.
Have you heard of ‘Mandalas‘? Mandala means ‘circle’ in Sanskrit, and are sacred symbols used in meditation, prayer, healing, and art therapy. Mandalas originate in Tibetan Buddhism practice. Geometric configurations are made of crushed semiprecious stones and laid on a flat surface as an offering that symbolizes the universe. The mandalas are created by multiple monks intricately working together for several weeks. This process is a way to meditate on the impermanence of life, one of the important teachings in Buddhism. The completed mandalas also depict different stories and teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. As a ceremonial act, the beautiful sand mandalas are then swept into a pile, carefully transported, and released into flowing water streams in nature. This act symbolizes the hope of spreading the message of holy blessings to the world.
Different forms of mandalas are found across Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Shintoism, and other indigenous religions. A great traditional example of mandalas incorporating flower petals are found at the annual Hindu festival called Onam in Kerala, India. During their 10 day festival, a flower art mandala called Pookkalam is created slowly expanding in circle sizes as the days progress. They believe the floral carpet symbolizes the fights between demons and demigods, while the circle rings represent deities in Hinduism.
Mandala Art Floral Therapy
Why are mandalas used in floral therapy? Mandalas were made aware in therapy after Swiss psychologist Carl Jung introduced its use in his psychological studies. He believed in mandala art as a healing activity, a path to self-awareness, and a connection to the current psyche of a person. Since then, the mandala has been used in various ways within art and floral therapy. Studies indicate that mandala art therapy decreases anxiety and impulsive behavior while boosting mood, increasing cognition, and nurturing creative development. The slow attentive process to create mandalas in many rituals promote meditation and mindfulness by the sole act of it too.
DIY: How to Create a Flower Petal Mandala
- Gather a collection of floral picks, including branches, leaves, and rocks. We want multiples of the same kinds to ensure the creation of repetitive patterns.
- Find a comfortable space with a flat surface to create your mandala. This can be on the ground outdoors, on the floor indoors, on your desk, on a piece of paper, or even on a plate.
- Think about how you would like to use your materials. You can use just the flower petals, as Alisa Burke does in her video, where all the petals are pre-plucked. Or you may want to incorporate various materials including whole flowers like Well + Good demonstrates in their video. Online images and videos may help your inspiration.
- Create a relaxing environment where you can concentrate on the process without any distractions.
- Start from the center and work outwards, creating a circle.
- Make sure to keep a symmetrical design throughout. It can be helpful if you divide the circle into sections with grids.
- As soon as you finish, sweep away the flower petal mandala or leave it in nature to wither away. The whole point is to enjoy the process, appreciate the beauty nature offers, and accept the impermanence in life.
Embracing Impermanence in Floral Therapy
You may feel the want to preserve your flower petal mandala when you finish. After all, we did previously mention the sole benefits of displaying floral arrangments, and you’ve spent so much time making it. However, a great part of the benefit and lesson this mandala activity offers is in the ephemerality of it.
Embracing impermanence is an essential value in Buddhism as well as positive psychology. We as humans have a tendency to try and hold on to things, whether it be objects, status, money, relationships, memories, emotions, etc. For many, ‘change’ is sometimes a fear factor, where preservation and permanence of a situation can seem important. We can try to liberate ourselves by letting go of our desire to control and accept seemingly negative situations when they occur. Becoming less reactionary to fleeting circumstances will help us gain the stability, perspective, and clarity we need to move forward. The capability to handle forthcoming transitory aspects in life, whether good or bad, is a strength to aspire for. As much as it may seem a small part of the exercise, letting go of your beautiful flower mandala at the end is the part that teaches us these perspectives of life.
I hope this four-part series, DIY Floral Arrangements as a Therapeutic Art Practice, was helpful in understanding the therapeutic power of flowers and floral therapy. There are so many ways to go about enjoying DIY floral arrangements and hopefully some of the ideas here can enhance your experience and perspective for your future projects. Even if you don’t feel like making one yourself, it can be fun to just think about the origins of flowers and the arranger’s intent when you spot at an arrangement next time.
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