For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sara Anne Shiffrin, the founder of the queen mandala. I am a New York City based artist in the process of drawing 1,000 mandalas.
What is a mandala? While there are many variations and meanings associated with different religions and cultures, ultimately a mandala is a circle. A circle filled with different layers and shapes working together to create a larger image. They can provide a source of meditation, a way to release tension stored in the mind and heart through drawing, coloring, or simply staring at the image.
The dictionary definition of a mandala is: a geometric figure representing the universe. I believe mandalas are like people. Each drawing is made of the same or similar elements. Each element is arranged differently creating a larger image that is completely unique. I have never drawn the same mandala twice...just as no two people are exactly the same. We are all made of similar qualities, but still one of a kind.
When it all began... Let me take you back to 2004 when it all began. I learned to draw my first mandala in my fourth grade art class. We started by using the corner of a paper to create a quarter of a circle. The teacher gave us the freedom to get as detailed and creative as we desired within each layer. I discovered no matter what variation of petals or lines you chose, it always ended up looking really cool. I was hooked immediately. I began drawing them in the corner of every paper I ever touched. Over time I moved from a quarter, to a half, to eventually a full circle mandala.
In May of 2017 I entered the world of mindfulness. As I was discovering the power of meditation and intention, I felt my art and creativity develop in a new way. I saw my mandalas in a whole new light. Up until this point they had been fun, mindless doodles. For the first time I wondered what they would look like in color. And what it would be like to draw with an intention or a person in mind. I got out the colored pencils and began experimenting with a gift for my mom. I poured all of my love for her into the piece. When I finished, all I saw was her. And when I gave her the drawing, she said she felt the petals were glowing; like they were trying to tell her something. From start to finish this was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
It opened a new door. I kept drawing and experimenting with different colors and techniques. I discovered the many meanings behind colors and how they are associated with the chakras. I never showed anyone these drawings, as they felt far too personal. I kept them stored away in my many journals filled with hidden poetry. If you told me a few years ago that I would create a website for anyone to read my most intimate writing and view my mandalas, I would have told you that you were out of your mind! But here we are...
Sharing the mandalas. So how did I end up putting these out into the world? It started in December of 2017. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the team I was working with at a previous job. I decided for Christmas I would draw each of them a mandala with the colors I saw for them. To say it was a bit ambitious to draw nine mandalas in less than three weeks would be quite the understatement. But with blistered fingers and a lack of sleep, it was totally worth it to experience their reaction. Disbelief that I drew the mandala then transformed into disbelief that I made something so specific for them. It made me realize how deeply we all just want to be thought of and cared about. And that knowledge felt more a gift to myself than anything else.
My boss at the time pulled me aside and said that I should be selling these. I had never even thought that a possibility. His encouragement however opened something in me. We joked about what I would call myself. I suggested the mandala princess. But he thought that wasn’t the right vibe. He said I wasn’t a princess, I was much more of a queen. And with that, the queen mandala was born.
How my drawings and writing are a part of each other. Drawing mandalas can be a source of releasing tension stored in the heart and mind. I feel the same way about writing. I have always struggled with expressing my inner thoughts out to the world using my voice. I am much better with my hands, expressing through drawing and writing. With each mandala and each story I am working through that. Sometimes the mandala is inspired by the writing. Other times the writing comes from the thoughts and feelings stirred up while drawing. Ultimately they go hand in hand.
1,000 mandalas. That’s a lot of mandalas. And a big commitment. How did I get to that number? It started with instagram. The first step after deciding upon the queen mandala was to make an instagram. As I prepared for the first post, I had a big decision to make. Do I share the poem with the mandala? Am I ready to put myself out there in such a vulnerable way? I couldn’t decide. So I went on a walk to clear my mind. As I passed through Madison Sq. Park, really feeling my music, and staring at all the trees covered in snow, it finally hit me. 1,000 mandalas. Draw 1,000 mandalas. Tell your story. The symbol for the seventh chakra that connects you to the universe is the 1,000 petal lotus. In some cultures folding 1,000 paper cranes is said to bring ultimate peace. 1,000 is an extreme number but it is possible. On January 28th, 2018 I posted Brass Knuckles, the first of the 1,000. The mandala and the poem together. As I continue to draw and write, I am aware this might take me fifty years to complete. And I look forward to being 74 one day, with 1,000 mandalas to tell the story of all my years.
These mandalas, these poems, they are the pieces of my heart. I truly thank you for the support and encouragement.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via instagram @thequeenmandala, or send me an email: email@example.com.
From my heart to yours,
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