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Mandala Mind

You knew you were going to paint a mandala in this room. You knew this over a year ago when you contracted the house to be built. Labeled 'Office' on the floor plans, you both immediately decided it would be something quite different. A Spirit Room. You tried the title Zen Den but it felt too trendy and ready to fade with the whims of Pinterest. No, you both named it the Spirit Room because that was where you would each practice your spiritual modality. Buddhism for him, Eclectic Shamanism Reiki Crystal Tarot for you. Jeez, girl, why don’t you just call your spirituality the Bird's Nest. You are like a crow plucking any modality that is shiny.

You pinned so much to Pinterest that you lost track of which boards had which posts. Your whole account filled with various Bohemia, paint colors, and plants. You look for the photos you are sure you pinned but you don't find them. You conclude that you don’t need a photo. You see it in your head.

In January, you both painted the walls of the room in preparation for your art moment. Now you were ready. Mandala bliss would flow through your fingertips on the East facing wall to unite beauty, symbolism and meaning. You would create a masterful mandala. Alleluia. Namaste.

But you balked. You got scared. What if it sucked? What if it was wonky? What if you were too distracted to finish? So you shopped instead. Looking for mandala decals to apply. Looking for perfection and ease. Oh yes, the quintessence of Taurus laziness.

Yet, you couldn’t find what you envisioned. The decals were too something…Flowery? Cutesy? Perfect? Wait, you wanted perfect. What really didn’t you like about the decals? They looked like stickers. Really, genius? They ARE stickers.

You shelved the project for two weeks. You were busy with a commission. You were an important artist. You were being paid for your art. Mandala painting was for less important people.

The commission fell through and you were no longer an important artist. Tired of sitting at your computer working on digital art files, you wandered into the room and stared at the wall. You could see it in your mind. An organic but intricately symmetrical mandala. Would you be able to deliver it?

You realize that painting a mandala will never work. You don’t have the brush skills after spending your days with pen and paper or tablet and stylus, but you could draw a mandala. Yes! Draw it. You think to some rock mandalas you drew with white paint marker. Messy. Drips. You sigh. You leave the room and table the idea.

Despite your doubts, you feel that this is the moment for the mandala. You think like this all the time, don’t you? Like some divine force is guiding you. Like the universe wants to make you feel special. Like God is busy with a lesson plan called ‘Brenda and the Mandala’. Saving lives would have to wait. God knows how special you are. You annoy yourself with your ego. You are determined to ignore the feeling. Let it go...

But it is bugging you. Like a tiny flame that wants to grow. Mandala. Mandala. Mandala…

So, you research paint markers and order two different brands. They arrive and sit on the kitchen counter for three weeks, annoying your spouse and reminding you that you made a monetary commitment to the cause. You move the markers off the counter and hide them in a drawer. Yet, you know they are there. They call to you like the gold coin in Pirates of the Caribbean. Drumming in your head like the Jumanji game. Mandala. Mandala. Mandala…

Out of the blue, a friend texts, asking if you have started the mandala. You stare at your phone in disbelief. You told somebody? Your face draws into a sour pucker. You try to remember when you told her. It was probably in January when the word mandala didn't threaten you. Why is she asking now? You text back “No. I’m afraid I’ll f*ck it up”.

"So what if you do? Just paint over it” she replies. Huh. You hadn't thought of that. Chewing on her words, you acknowledge your fatalistic nature. It is a mandala, girl. Not open heart surgery. No one will die if the mandala sucks. It isn't a prosecutable offense.

So, you try the markers on cardboard and decide one brand is superior. You order more. You gather up your circle templates, rulers and a compass. You head to the room. You stare at the East facing wall and you know you will start. You have to start. It is screaming to be let free.

Mandala. Mandala. Mandala…

You move his meditation cushion and bring in a dining room chair. You position a small table near you to hold all of your drawing tools. You decide where the middle of the mandala will be. You rethink. You aren’t sure. The wall is so clean and rich with fresh paint. Is this a good idea? Your heart pounds. Your hand is getting sweaty.

And just when you think you will not begin, your hand moves in and draws on the wall.


The next post will continue with all the self doubt and fear, but I promise to provide insight into what makes a mandala work artistically and some tips for building one of your own.


wall color is Sherwin Williams 'Island Time' in Matte finish.

paint markers are Artistro White Paint Pens.

Amazon link for the paint markers:

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