A new attitude

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Maria Victoria Rufino

Beyond Brushstrokes


The period of prolonged isolation has been a time for reflection, grace, and transformation. A counselor explained that one’s attitude and lifestyle would change. We cannot go back to the old normal.

The focus is survival. It has been a very difficult and uncertain time for all of us on various levels.

On the practical side, there are financial issues — business matters and job security, and the major economic downturn, recession.

We have to adjust our way of thinking and doing things to a new, impersonal lifestyle. We all have to learn about computers for Zoom meetings, online classes, banking, and e-commerce. The personal touch is now absent — at least for the next six months.

How can people cope with the crisis?

Through nutritious food, vitamins, sunlight, and exercise for one’s physical well being. There are books, culture and art, music, poetry, prayer and meditation for the mental and spiritual side.

Among the art forms relevant to this particular time of liminal space is the mandala, “circle” in Sanskrit. Mandala art is a process of self-expression for personal growth and spiritual transformation. The art has symbols that are sketched or painted within a circular frame.

Living in a stressful environment requires a coping mechanism. There are survival patterns that keep us afloat during normal days and there are subroutines for critical times.

We often carry photos of family and friends on our mobile phones. We display special framed pictures at home and the office. The photos remind us of our loved ones and how we feel when they are around us. This practice gives us a sense of connection, “rootedness” and support during times of uncertainty and distress. Especially when one is alone and isolated from the family. We can feel a sense of security that inspires us to do acts of generosity, good will, and kindness. Our essential values and the priorities become clear.

Mirrors allow us to peek at our appearance and assure us that we look ready to face the world when we go out.

Photos and mirrors are reflections of what usually remain outside our field of awareness. Mandala art is, in a way, similar to these familiar objects. It gives us reflections of the inner world — our heart and soul.

The mandala connects us to our real self — in basic ways. It helps us understand the meaning of certain life experiences. We can learn to create and interpret them.

Native or indigenous people, for example, use the medicine wheel to connect to “earth energies and the wisdom of nature.”

The central point of focus is within. Mandala art starts with a symbol — a flower or the sun or a star — from which radiates a symmetrical design. It is the center within each of us and to which everything else is related. The round shape brings us to wholeness. In psychology, it is called the “Higher Self.”

We use the imagination to see the inner self. We play with symbols and images as we move away from a cognitive, intellectual frame. Thus, we enter an expanded sense of awareness.

The imagination helps us see our inner energies. The rational self cannot perceive this part. We have multiple drives, desires, hopes, fears, latent or hidden abilities and psychic wounds. All feelings should be acknowledged and consciously worked on. It is the way to synthesize our physical, personal and spiritual needs for growth.

We cannot see the unconscious. The mandala provides a psychic mirror to show the complex collections of elements and dynamic forces within. “Psychosynthesis” is a psychological and educational approach to human development.” In the last century, Italian psychologist Dr. Roberto Assagioli explained how we could heal and develop. The human unconscious has three levels that mandala art can explore.

Creating a mandala is simple. The first step is to draw a circle on a sheet of paper. Fill the circle spontaneously, intuitively. The drawing or doodle will emerge in an unpredictable way. We can fill the circle with special images after deep relaxation. We can capture some important scenes or fascinating objects from nature.

The mandala is a basic tool of integration. The symbols represent part of ourselves. The mental patterns are in the forms. Feelings are in the colors. The body is involved in the act of drawing.

The complete mandala is always interesting and beautiful. It is a holistic snapshot of what is happening in our reality.

This art form is valuable when we shift from our concerns and worries to connect with our inner space. The process is relaxing, refreshing, energizing, surprising.

The mandala art is a private process of self-confrontation. It helps us connect, accept and love from the center of our being known as the Higher Self. It reveals the blocked energies and celebrates the inspired successes and events that have touched us deeply.

We should discover the source and nourish our inner wisdom. It is the part that often struggles to live freely and create self-expression.

We search for the meaning of our own experiences and try to understand what it all means.

These artworks are powerful images to share with others.

It is one of the most creative ways to connect directly within, to heal our wounds, to nurture our potential.

Finally, it can transform our attitude about life and how we can move forward into the unchartered waters.


Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.