TBI Recovery Workbook Using Mandalas and Journaling

Creating Mandalas and Journaling – A Deeper Understanding by Tracy W. Teregis

 

Author: MANDALAS and JOURNALING: A Colorful Pathway to Healing the Brain

INTRODUCTION

It is never easy stepping outside a personal comfort zone.  Yet, it’s an ongoing process for many who are survivors of a brain injury.  Daily, the person needs to look at current capabilities, skills, and capacities and find a way to deal with the limitations and changes that have resulted from the trauma.  Reconciling these changes is uncomfortable, at times agonizing, and demanding a significant level of concentration, dedication, and motivation.

Having worked for years with individuals coping with the realities of brain injury, I wanted to find a way to assist them to adjust and promote healing.  I have been practicing yoga for many years, achieving certification in teaching and conducting guided imagery.  I then was introduced to Flora Edwards article on USING MANDALA’S FOR SUSTAINED ATTENTION, CONCENTRATION & MEDITATION.  Suddenly, I had a way to help and assist survivors.

Defining Mandalas

What is a Mandala? How can it assist with attention, concentration and mental focus after sustaining a brain injury? Mandala is Sanskrit for “circle” or “contemplation.” Mandalas have been used for millennia in cultures world-wide as a tool for spiritual growth, creativity and emotional healing. I first learned of the healing benefits of coloring, meditating and creating Mandalas with Brain Injury Survivors as a tool for stress management. It became increasingly apparent that not only was this a healing tool, but a very specific and concrete strategy for sustaining attention and concentration, leading to profound insights and awareness for a brain injured individual. (Excerpted from “USING MANDALA’S FOR SUSTAINED ATTENTION, CONCENTRATION & MEDITATION,” by Flora Edwards)

DEVELOPING THE CONCEPT

While teaching a series of Psychosocial Adjustment post-brain injury classes, I issued a challenge to my students to practice sustaining their attention and concentration by way of meditation and coloring mandalas.  The results and evidence provided through this practice showed that they were benefitting from quieting their minds and shifting from a left-hemisphere task orientation to a right-hemisphere task orientation.

Many of the students were observed achieving states of relaxation and engaging in problem-solving in new and non-taxing (no stress) ways.  Because it is sometimes difficult for someone with a brain injury to shut off the internal and external distractions of their environment, the activity of coloring mandalas revealed an effective avenue to promote calm and creativity (right hemisphere task orientation).

Bridging the Two Hemispheres

BRIDGING THE TWO HEMISPHERES

I wanted to find a way to connect the left and right hemisphere functions and looked for a means to bridge to the coloring activity.  I have taught language and writing curriculum in Journaling post-brain injury to many.  As a result, I developed a series of writing prompts that may guide the survivor on a healing journey.  The prompts address issues within the self that allow for expression and reflection.  They are deliberate in that they evoke emotion on a continuum.  The survivor has an opportunity to dialog with his/her brain.  Often, it takes courage and some gentle prompting to begin this journey.  However, the survivor will ultimately begin to experience an “authentic love letter” to his/her brain.

The two activities (journaling/coloring) appeared to have generated significant and profound differences in many using them.  As the survivors allowed themselves to fully engage in the creative process, a visible healing seemed to unfold.  Because of the results I was experiencing, I sought avenues to combine the two activities into a workbook.

PRIMARY FOCUS

The primary focus is to promote the balancing of  both hemispheres of the brain through writing (Journaling) and coloring (Meditating).  I deeply desire each survivor discover a means of self-expression through a non-threatening venue while creating and nurturing an experience that promotes quiet, healing reflection.

The feedback that I have received from those who have used this application has validated this approach to healing the brain.  The comments reveal many embracing the concepts and permitting the healing process to begin and progress. They commented that this approach has given them the opportunity to share with their loved ones the struggles that they face living with a brain injury.  The journaling/coloring activities have become tools to revisit and reflect on how much progress the survivor has made since their brain injury.

SUMMARY

I am convinced that this application will be successful when used as an individual tool, or in a group setting, or by a support group. Each mandalas has been created with the intention for the brain injury survivor to achieve a personal comfort level with small spaces and complex design. The associated journaling prompt is designed to guide the survivor on a continuum of healing (from frustration to peace, from discord to resolution, from anger to gratitude).

It is my deepest and sincerest hope that the person who uses the workbook will achieve advancement and see visible results on the journey of healing.  I firmly believe this workbook to be a powerful, creative tool for self-acceptance post-brain injury.

Autobiography

I have been privileged to work in the field of Brain Injury for the past three decades in numerous capacities: educator (in a premier Brain Injury Program), a facilitator of a 12-week Brain Injury Workshop (“Re-Defining The Self After Brain Injury”), solo practitioner/business owner serving survivors and families, currently a professor at Saddleback College (Disabled Student and Services Program).

I currently serve as an advisory board member for the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation.  I am certified in both Yoga and Guided Imagery and use these supplemental practices to enhance the survivor’s recovery experience using available tools to assist them as they navigate the world of post-brain injury.

MANDALAS & JOURNALING Workbook

MANDALAS and JOURNALING: A Colorful Pathway to Healing the Brain

2 responses to “TBI Recovery Workbook Using Mandalas and Journaling”

  1. Rosemarie Hart says:

    I believe journaling and doing mandalas are so helpful to people with brain injuries to improve

  2. Teresa Goldberg says:

    I received Tracy’s book as a gift. I would love to use it just for myself as a fun and calming activity. I am a one-on-one aide for a boy on the spectrum going into 3rd grade soon. I am going to try to use this book for him when I think he is ready, which may be this year. He has grown so much but I wanted to wait until I felt he was a little more mature for this kind of activity. He hasn’t enjoyed coloring until the end of 2nd grade. In his case, I need to instruct him constantly on what color should the hair, skin, clothes, fur, sky, grass be, etc. Otherwise he would color it all black. I’m excited to see what might happen when I start to use this book with him where there are no rules (except to not use black!). I’m hoping this will become a great tool for my students and possibly for others in our SPED program! Congratulations Tracy!

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