“Each person’s life is like a mandala – a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life.” ~ Pema Chodron
“Mandala” comes from the Sanskrit word ‘circle’. Mandalas have been used as a ritual tool in many cultures and religions around the world – Native American Indians, Tibetan Buddhists, Taoists – who believed mandala represented the universe and the life cycle.
The mandala, through its intricate layers has the effect of reminding us of the circular motions and cycles of life, the infinitude of the universe, and our connection to all. Because of these precious lessons, the mandala has the ability to be a powerful meditation tool.
Carl Jung believed that mandalas represented the Self, and used it in psychotherapy as a tool to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality of his patients.
How to create your own mandala experience:
A mandala can also be used to guide the viewer into a hypnotic or a higher state of consciousness. With its aesthetically pleasing designs, an irritating thought will not be able to wiggle itself into the person’s consciousness as they are solely focused on the hypnotic beauty of the mandala’s designs. Through this hypnotic state the person is able to reach a higher consciousness and a better understanding of themselves.
To meditate on a mandala, choose the one that you can connect with and then set an intention you wish to focus on. Your intention can be anything that is happening in your life and you’re looking to gain more clarity on it. Once you have set your intention you can turn your focus to the mandala. Take in the designs and the mandala’s circular and infinite structure.
If your mind starts to wander to mundane things, gently pull it back to the beautiful designs. Get completely absorbed and lost in the design of the mandala, and as you go deeper into it you will begin to feel more relaxed and lighter in your head.
“The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the Self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground or, to put it in mythic terms, the divinity incarnate in man.” ~ Carl Jung
Another way to meditate on a mandala is to create your own mandala by drawing, colouring or painting. Everything in the mandala design is specific and symbolic, so by creating your own mandala you have the ability to meditate as you create. Drawing the meditative designs will calm you in any state, and give you the space to just be, and breathe, as if you were in deep meditation.
As before, the first step is to set your intention. What do you wish to gain from this meditation/experience? Choose a goal: clarity on a subject or situation, enlightenment or feeling, unblocking something from your psyche, or just a calm meditative experience.
You can do this intuitively, choose the colour that matches your intention with the feelings you wish to experience or gain through your mandala meditation. You can also choose your colors based on the chakras you wish to focus on or heal.
Red: Strength and passion. (1st chakra)
Orange: Intuition, creativity, and personal transformation. (2nd chakra)
Yellow: Happiness, learning, wisdom and vibrance. (3rd chakra)
Green: Nature, healing, and psychic ability. (4th chakra)
Blue: Peace and emotional healing. (5th chakra)
Purple: Spiritual and universal connection. (6th chakra)
White: Purity and focus. (7th chakra)
Pink: Intuition, love, and the feminine aspects of yourself.
Black: Deep thinking and individuality.
You can also choose colors as you go, by letting the mandala and the experience show you which colors you are drawn to.
Put on some relaxing music, pick up your creative tools (crayons, markers, pencils, etc.), and start drawing, if you want to start your own mandala design from scratch. Others may take a mandala stencil from a book, or get a print out from the internet.
Remember to leave all judgment on the side as you start your mandala; it is not about artistic talents or outcome. Do not feel that your mandala should end up like the many professional mandalas that you see around you, just draw or color, engross yourself in the unique experience, and proudly embrace any outcome.
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” ~ Rumi
You should feel as if you are immersing into the drawing and allowing it to take you on its unique journey. As your mandala progresses you can feel the palpable energy that you are creating it with; as the creator, you are able to infuse it with your unique intention and energies.
When your work is finished, put it up in a place where it can be easily seen as you go about your day. Put it up on your wall, as your screensaver, or on the fridge. Your mandala will carry your intention and bring you back to focus whenever you look at it.
I have personally made my own mandala as I was putting together this article, and it was a peaceful and meditative experience, as I had hoped it would be. When I look back at my mandala I am again brought back to the experience and filled with the peace that I had set out to gain.
It was a very nurturing experience to pick up each color and think: “This is for gained strength and enthusiasm. This is for peace and tranquility,” etc. Each layer around the center of the mandala gave me more strength and peace as it went on, until the last hour circle when I felt a final satisfaction with my work and the journey I had embarked on.