cientists like John
Barrow have long made
the powerful connec-
tions between art and
There is something across
the cosmos that responds to
patterns — whether it is in
the structure of the atoms,
or the fact that washing
machines makes use of the
chaos theory. Since our
brains are wired to these
patterns — because we too
are part of the whole pattern
— art is a response and a creation that arises naturally.
We can take this theory a
step further and say, as alternative therapies around the world
suggest, that healing can also be
mediated through these natural
Most ancient healing systems
employ the idea of patterns to heal. I
will take you through just a few to excite
you with the idea that you can control your
healing by controlling what you see.
Yantras are a separate branch of tantric
yoga that uses geometric patterns to heal.
Drawing of yantras needs a geometric
frame of mind and precise calculation. It
requires you to think out of the box, yet
remain grounded to the reality of lines, circles, squares and rectangles of a real world.
It can transpose the idea of infinity (as
does Sri Yantra) and ground you as with the
yantra of the mooladhara chakra (root
Here are a few ideas, that are conveyed
through the basic geometric patterns you
had learnt as a child:
~A square is grounding because it
implies, through its neatness, the idea of
~A circle suggests expansion and therefore space.
~A downward facing triangle has a different impact from an upward facing one.
The latter is dynamism and the former is
accepting, surrendering, compliant.
~A five-pointed star – common to so
many religious symbolism – suggests
steadiness, while a six-pointed one, again
universally seen, suggests harmony.
The spectrum of healing these shapes
provide is very wide.
However, which yantra is ideal for you,
which chakra yantra should be employed,
and which symbol should be used for your
ment must be sug-
gested only by a person
steeped in tantric yoga of symbolism, or a
In case you want to self-prescribe, I suggest you read instructional manuals such as
Tools for tantra by yoga guru Harish
Sacred geometry of
In the Israeli Kabbalah tradition, as well
as the Islamic traditions around the world,
there is a wide use of geometric patterns
regarded as sacred. Much of this gets transposed into the architecture and arts of this
region, explaining how when the brain is
wired to these images, exposed to them
from childhood, it is natural to see their
connection to healing people who also
believe in them.
Sacred geometric patterns, calligraphy
and special healing verses are inked into
bits of papers that are worn as tabeez by
Buddhists also use talismans and amulets
similarly, writing prayers that heal. They
also have a tradition of carrying “portable
prayer wheels, little
talismans that are replete with
geometric patterns of sacred symbolism.
To heal is to repeat that affirmation, every
time you remember you are carrying or wearing the talisman. Where the mind is so powerfully engaged in healing, it is probable the
body responds with equally powerful contribution of its own. To heal using any of these
systems obviously requires that you belong to
or believe in, these traditions, so you can
accept the rituals that are requisite to initiate
These days there are several workshops
that are organized to explain the basis of such
healing, if you wish to learn of them. Books
too have explored this subject in minute
details and can help us make the connections
between healing and geometric art.
Crystal therapy, scrying
or creating mandalas
Crystal therapy scrying is a method by
which you gaze into a crystal, to catch its
internal patterns. Ideally, it is done with a
crystal ball. Water, mirror are also used by
those who employ this for healing or spiritual
It has a ritualistic flourish to it and the idea
is to stare long enough, keeping your mind
open to the clarity of the patterns within
the crystal, and allowing the natural
static of your mind to continue its
Some experts suggest you maintain a journal of the patterns
that are thrown up spontaneously into your mind as you
stare at them. It is interesting
to see how healing is associated with bringing up the
hidden layers of the subconsciousness, where problems that trouble you emotionally, are actually creating the physical ailments.
And you then let the rational mind sort it out.
This is the powerful psychosomatic way of using an
external, exotic aid, to relieve
the inner build-up and cause
Similar to chakra patterns,
mandalas are also created in crystal therapy, with crystals needed
for a particular healing laid out in a
geometric pattern. For instance, for
inflammation, pale blue crystals may
be chosen and kept in a pattern suggested by the expert. This is almost like a
miniature altar in some part of your personal space (near your bed/on your desk) and is
used a healing affirmation.
Though calligraphy as an art form, suggesting refinement and sophistication, has
been around for hundreds of years, its healing aspect is finding a renewed interest.
In fact, the drive to learn calligraphy more
for its healing element rather than merely as
a form of art (where it may limit the number
of takers who feel inhibited by its sophistication) has powered this resurgent interest.
And this is not just coming from Islamic traditions but has been associated for long in
popular memory with other eastern traditions, from China, Nepal.
Russian calligraphy is also being promoted
for its healing aspect. The use of breath, the
complete focus on co-ordination between
mind and the hand, the call for precision and
the visualization of the pattern (before its
execution) all are said to heal. The Japanese
one-stroke ink paintings, with their association with Haiku also create a similar impact
of harmonizing the mind, calming it to initiate healing. ;
Shameem Akthar is a yogacharya trained
with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center
Catch Shameem's yoga tips on
Disclaimer: This column shares the columnist's
passion for alternative therapies which are ideally learned under the guidance of an expert
Shameem Akthar on
patterns, symbols and
their role in healing
LUCAS JACKSON/REU TERS
Geometry of thought