ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Mandalas, Stress, and Gestalt Psychology

Updated on October 27, 2017
Maria Dorland profile image

Mariaines' background is natural sciences, and she is currently studying psychology. She enjoys poetry, history, drawing, and writing.

Humans have natural ways to understand the world. Gestalt psychologists found certain rules that people follow when they need to organise information that come through our sensory organs to make sense of their environment. These rules are the natural way to organise information for the Gestalt psychologists and therefore they cause the least effort and fatigue for our brains. In other words, as indicated by Busche (2015) in her article about Gestalt psychology and design “The main idea [is] that when we perceive the world there are many different signals coming in at the same time. To organize them, and avoid going crazy, we visualize our surroundings as unitary forms or groups”.

On the other hand, Weiten et al (2015) in his book Psychology, points that people also experience sensory adaptation, which means that when people are exposed for a long period to a certain stimulus, we do not perceive it anymore until new stimuli appear to attract our attention because a change in the environment. The same author describes stress as a response to our ever-changing environment. Stress is the result of the effort to organise our world to maintain our well-being and sense of order.

Seeing a flag through holes or a green film on top of a pink fabric? Both? Maria Dorland @ 2017
Seeing a flag through holes or a green film on top of a pink fabric? Both? Maria Dorland @ 2017

Religion and spirituality is one of the ways to give direction to our life, for example Christianity anchors believer’s life in the love for Christ and what He represents in the world, so the bigger picture takes place at God’s level and His plans, that although unknown to us in the short term, there is the assurance that in the long term everything that happens in our life makes sense in His bigger plan. All religions offer a bigger picture level of life and offer a way to connect to the divinity as understood by their followers, this is mostly done through prayer, meditation, and a way to live life according their tenets.

However, this is sometimes difficult to grasp and the bigger picture can vanish for a while and the short-term circumstances override the assurance promised by religion. Moreover, non-religious people also find causes to believe in and to build their life around them, for example the well-being of the family, the progress of the country, democracy, protection of the environment among many others. It is important to note that religious people also embrace these causes but they link them to God’s purpose. It is also true that non-believers have also embraced religious philosophies such as Buddhism to give a space to their spiritual needs.

If we apply the gestalt principles to stress and life management we can find the reason behind the relaxing effects of a mandala, but first let’s see how they apply to our general life management. People usually have life goals at different scales, from the daily routines to the achievement of monthly or yearly objectives. There are also bigger picture plans, such as getting a pension, medical care, recreation, a position in society or living a religious life. Every individual will have different ideas about these points and will have a different priority in their life, but everyone will have a goal to pursue. Stress come from the effort to integrate life circumstances to the bigger and smaller plans of our life. Weiten et al (2015) summarises the sources of stress as frustration, conflict, change, pressure, and the ability to cope. I would say that the mechanisms described by the Gestalt laws do intervene in the resolution of challenges of daily life.

The gestalt principles have been summarised by Busch (2015) as simplicity, figure-ground, proximity, continuity, similarity, common-fate, common region, symmetry, parallelism, and closure. The brain uses these mechanisms to group stimulus and give them a meaningful sense as a part of a whole, rather than individual, separated signals. These principles are extensively used in graphic design, where the creators want to express several ideas at the same time, catching the attention of the viewer usually for marketing purposes.

I find that the same principles can be used to create mandalas to express the different sources of stress and give them meaning inside the circle that becomes our common region. The common region law says that we associate elements that are in a common region as be part of the same group, so a mandala is useful for integrating experiences expressed through art, even when they are in conflict. The mandalas are usually arranged showing symmetry, repetition of elements around the circle following geometrical angles and shapes, they usually communicate interconnectedness and purpose forming a unity. The mandalas offer a space to focus our attention where feelings and emotions can be expressed while enjoying a sense of order that is effortless for our brains to assimilate. It also offers a sense of control as the decision of what colours to use, where to start and when to finalise the drawing is mostly in our hands. Let’s not forget to mention that designing mandalas following the Gestalt rules is fun too.

Is it a Face or a Light House? Maria Dorland @ 2017
Is it a Face or a Light House? Maria Dorland @ 2017

© 2017 MariaInes

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      11 months ago from Oklahoma

      Very educational.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)