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Mandalas in Nature

Picture of Tim Chadd

Tim Chadd

Landscape Gardener

Landscape Gardener Tim Chadd at one time designed and replanted Sherman Library & Gardens' modern formal garden as a living mandala with butter lettuce, thyme, and bok choy.
The word ‘Mandala’ is a Sanskrit word for a circle contained within a square, often with sections radiating out from the center point. The process of making mandalas helps to manifest stability in our inner life. I first began drawing and creating flower mandalas when I received a copy of Carl Jung’s “Red Book” which I bring to the mandala classes that I instruct for your inspiration. Throughout his career Jung encouraged his patients to make art, and especially mandalas, as a way to gain insight and heal. Although mandalas are each uniquely beautiful, it is the mindful meditative process of creating them which is most important.
Mandalas are ephemeral and are symbolic of the impermanence of life. By design they are not meant to last; using natural elements like perishable leaves and flowers add to the significance of this process. There are as many ways to make a mandala as can be imagined; drawing in the sand, balancing a rock, writing a haiku, garnishing a plate of food. Location also influences the design, whether it’s the beach, the woods, or your own backyard. The materials will be as varied as our individual lives are. You can deconstruct and reconstruct a single flower, reinventing it as you reinvent yourself.
Just as the garden changes with the seasons, people are ever evolving, radiating out from their center and back in again. Charles Darwin described this as the endless unfolding. Creating mandalas leads to wellness and inner reconciliation, bringing us back to harmony within ourselves and the universe we live in. It’s a way to honor our lives and all that has passed and all that is yet to come. It’s writing your own script in life, instead of being an actor in someone else’s play.
Every day we can experience healing by connecting to a patch of earth. Take a moment to stop and appreciate the earth beneath our feet and become present and reconciled.