mandala art

Creativity is more important than ever in today’s knowledge-based economy. Although many people doubt their own creativity, very few exercises are designed to help them access this ability.

Self-expression and self-reflection are important for understanding personal creative ability. The mandala can help you explore your thoughts and feelings. Through careful thought and reflected images, mandala art can communicate your moods and context that affect your creativity.

What is a Mandala?

Mandala is a Sanskrit word. It means circle that usually has one identifiable center that emanates repeated geometric or organic patterns, marks, shapes, and forms.

Historical Context

Mandala art has been used throughout history in various religions, cultures, and spiritual realms. Tibetan Buddhism employed mandala art to capture the universe including countless gods and demons which both uplift and plague humanity. For thousands of years, Buddhists used mandala art as an aid to meditation.

Navajo Indians use mandala art in healing rituals. The Medicine Wheel is a mandala form engaged to connect to the wisdom of nature and earth energies.

Romans use an inner center known to us all as the genius within. The Greeks called the central point or focus an inner daemon. Christian religions speak of a soul and Christ within usually felt in the center of our being. Modern psychologists voice a Higher Self, again sensed within the center of our body.

How to Utilize Mandala Art

The process of creating mandala art uses our imagination to see into the inner self. Through playful methods, it is possible to move from a cognitive, intellectual, rational and narrow frame of reference and enter an expanded view of awareness and knowledge. Our imagination allots us the ability to see a spacious view of our inner operating energies that the intellectual mind cannot see.

Within each of us are a swarm of hopes and fears, drives and desires, wounds and buried talents that need acknowledgment and conscious attainment.  If we hope to learn from our experiences, grow as human beings, and move toward the balance of our biological, personal, and spiritual potentials, we need to integrate our fragmented parts.

Mandala art reflects the unconscious. It is a mirror that provides the experience to see the dynamic forces that function within us. It is an opportunity to view subconscious fragments of our self. For instance, internal conflicts such as body versus mind, mother versus professional, sexuality versus spirituality, emotion version reason.

Mandala art is a visualization of how our parts fit complementarily together in the wholeness within us. When we begin to balance and honor our internal dynamic forces, we can start to behave in ways that respect our wholeness, meet our needs, and share with others our best centered self.

Here is an easy-to-implement project that uses the mandala.

Gather Supplies

  • One or two sheets of paper, a canvas or card stock
  • Various sized circles such as cardboard tubes, cookie cutters, mugs, lids, or plates.
  • Compass with a pencil attached to it
  • An extra pencil with an eraser
  • Black Sharpie or marker
  • Small ruler or straight edge
  • Colored pencils, gel pens, acrylic paints, watercolors, markers, or colored felt-tip pens

How to Create Mandala Art

  1. Put yourself in a calm, relaxed state of mind.  You might want to close your eyes, take a few long, deep breaths, perhaps set an intention for your mandala art or use visualization techniques to center yourself.
  2. Create a practice worksheet.  Divide a sheet of paper into  sixteen 2×2 inch squares. In each square, draw various shapes, marks, lines, squiggles, and organic patterns. Play with line thickness, color, and shape size and density.
  3.  On the other sheet of paper, canvas, or card stock, draw a circle in the center using the compass or one of the round containers with the black Sharpie or marker.
  4. Continue to draw larger or smaller circles and shapes around the first one or along the edge until you are satisfied. Or use the straight edge to divide the circle into quadrants.
  5. Continue to fill in the circles with smaller repetitive shapes, images, symbols, forms, lines, and structures.
  6. Use the practice worksheet to pull inspiration from as you make your mandala.

Mandala art is meditative, integrative tool. The process of creating such a symbol involves many aspects within us. The mechanical act of drawing involves the body which then provides an experience of our nervous system in a new way. Mental patterns reflect specific forms and structures that emerge within the circle.  The use of color reflects our feelings.

When the mandala is complete, we have a holistic viewpoint and often beautiful snapshot of what is going on within us and of our present day reality. With an open mind and curiosity, we can look at the symbols and explore the meaning of the various structures, colors, and interacting elements.  The finished mandala is a visualization that we can gain an expanded view of how our life and how it is working or not.