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working with mandalas

Type of activity: Creative Practical

Location: An outdoor area with lots of natural materials

Materials: Gathered natural materials / journal

Length 45-60 minutes

Take your journal or a piece of paper and walk to an area outdoors where you can collect lots of natural materials. For example, fallen leaves and branches, rocks, moss, acorns, or conkers. This exercise will begin with a gentle mindfulness meditation to help you clear your mind.


  • Make yourself comfortable, perhaps sitting cross-legged or lying flat on your back.


  • Close your eyes and start focusing on your breath. Notice the changes in your body as you breathe in and out. If your mind wanders bring it gently back to your breath.


  • Once your breath has settled into a gentle rhythm, bring your attention to your body.


  • Starting with your feet, explore any sensations you have – heat, cold, a breeze on your skin.


  • Slowly move your awareness up through your body, from your feet up to your knees, hips, belly, fingertips, arms, shoulders, back, neck, head, continuing to breathe in a gentle rhythm.


  • Remain in this position for as long as you wish then slowly bring your attention back to your surrounding and open your eyes when you are ready.


Now you are feeling relaxed and ready to start the exercise.


  • Spend 1-2 minutes focusing on the difficulty you are having or a goal which you would like to achieve. Identify how this makes you feel and what you want to change. Now let it go.


  • Take a walk around the area which you have selected and collect materials which you feel drawn to.


  • Create a circle on the ground in front of you. The size doesn’t matter, as long as it is big enough to place the materials you have collected inside.


  • Start to arrange the materials you have collected inside the circle spontaneously, filling the entire circle.


  • Once you have finished, view your mandala as a representation of your unconscious response to the difficulty you are having or your goal.


  • Take some time to observe, explore and reflect on your mandala. Try answering the following questions in your journal.


  1. Are there any themes or patterns?

  2. Does it tell a story?

  3. What exactly do each of the materials represent?

  4. Does it tell you anything new?

  5. Which bit stands out the most and why?

  6. How does the mandala make you feel?

  7. Is there anything you would change about it?


Once you have finished the activity you may choose what to do with your mandala. You may want to leave it where it is, or you may find it cathartic to destroy it. You could throw the materials into a river or throw them up into the air.

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