Mandala Creation Meditation

Mandala Creation Meditation

Making a mandala is more than just doodling in a bullseye. It can be an intense journey into your soul and mind, and you end up with a meditation tool that leads you down a long-term path to enlightenment.
WellnessKeen Staff
Mandalas are nothing new to veteran meditators - they've been a major part of sacred Buddhist and Hindu art since the religions' creation, and they filter their way into many facets of everyday life. They are at once static and fluid, journey and destination, representational and live.

There are thousands of mandalas available for meditation, from ancient illuminated manuscripts to recently published coffee table books. But the concentric form of a mandala represents a journey toward deeper consciousness, and creating your own can be an interesting meditation in its own right.

Gather Materials

Decide what medium would suit your mandala. The simplicity of charcoal and paper appeals to some, while others prefer elaborate painting on canvas. A Buddhist tradition involves making the mandala out of colored sand, then sweeping the finished product into a pile to represent the impermanence of life. The sand is then placed into a stream to spread the mandala's blessing.

Guides or Not?

Using a compass and ruler to delineate the concentric circles and squares definitely yields the neatest work, and results in better radial symmetry. It's not necessary though, and some people find the use of such tools distracting. Do what feels right to you to ensure the most effective finished product.

Begin the Process

Mandalas are drawn from the outside in, so begin with your outer ring. It may be square or round, and it traditionally represents wisdom - although it can represent whatever you want it to. The meditation part comes about while you figure out how to represent an intangible (wisdom) in a non-representational way.

Don't worry about mistakes - this is not a test, and there are no wrong answers. Whatever comes out of your head and lands on the page is correct, and is exactly what is needed to be there. One of the great things about mandala creation is the fact that non-representational art is so prevalent and the designs are so abstract, that you spend more time creating and less time stressing over your artistic skills.

Go Deeper

Once your outer ring is finished, continue to the next ring inward. Note that the rings do not have to be equally sized - allow each ring to represent an attribute or feeling, and allocate larger spaces for those you feel are more important, regardless of their distance from the divine.

Or, you could draw larger rings for those attributes you feel need more development on your part, to encourage deeper contemplation.

The Palace of the Divine

The very center of a mandala is the representation of deity - whichever one you wish (or even a representation of the divine in general). By this point in the process, you should be quite deep into your own head - go a little deeper to illustrate your own idea of divinity.

Traditionally, the center contains four 'gates' that lead out into the rings - these are sometimes identical, other times they represent elements, cardinal directions, or seasons. However, there is no rule that says the gates must be there - if you feel somewhat separated from the divine (or need to remind yourself that you are), by all means, leave it closed.

Coming Back

Just as the journey to the center of your mandala is the journey to the center of your soul, the journey back out is the journey back to earth. Working your way outward, inspect each ring and apply finishing touches until it pleases you. When you finish the outer ring, your meditation is at an end.

Now that your mandala is finished, the work is just beginning. Mandalas are meant to be memorized in perfect detail - so perfect, that you can visualize an exact replica in your head and recall minute details at will. Only then can you put this mental labyrinth to work during meditation, traversing each ring without opening your eyes.