What is the meaning of Mandala? The meaning of Mandala comes from the Indian language, Sanskrit, meaning “circle”. The Tibetan definition means “that which encircles a center”.
Mandalas are concentric structures using a series of repeating patterns and shapes. Mandalas create a visual centrepiece that symbolises balance, peace and unity. The center of the mandala represents our spirit or awareness.
The highly visual nature of Mandalas absorbs the mind, tapping into the right side of our brain that controls creativity and imagination. Observers can use this as a tool for entering a higher state of consciousness or meditative state.
In the book Meditating with Mandalas psychologist David Fontana says the mandala’s symbolic nature can help one “to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises.”
The mandala encompasses different forms of life and circulates around our souls, families, friends and communities. It symbolizes the never ending condition of life and perpetuity.
In the book Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, “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.”
People believe that using mandalas enables your mind and your soul to connect. You connect with your inner self or consciousness which guides you through the challenges of life and helps you discover your life purpose.
Your intention has to be pure for seeking direction and therefore you must believe in the beauty of design, the colour and the interpretation. Clear your mind first from all the worldly distractions and temptations and then set your focus on a mandala.
Simply drive your attention and center of focus on the mandala and then you will be guided and helped.
Contemplation and meditation is carried out with these symbols. A state of mind, internal peace and eternity are the consequence of studying and meditating through mandalas.
A mandala can be painted on a wall or scroll, created by using an array of coloured sands, or as a visualisation aid during meditation or relaxation. Each shape in the mandala represents an aspect of wisdom or guiding principle.
Colouring a mandala has a centering effect psychologically. It can form an elevated state of mind through reaching Alpha Wave point. At Alpha wave point it makes learning easier and releases our creativity.
In fact most of us reach Alpha wave point every day without realizing it during specific activities such as jogging, driving and showering. It is during these activities that ideas or solutions suddenly come to mind. The aha moment.
One of the richest visual objects in Tibetan Buddhism is the mandala.
A typical Tibetan mandala made from coloured sands
The Tibetan mandala contains deities, with the principal deity in the centre of the pattern. The deities who reside in the palace embody philosophical views and serve as role models.
The process to make a Mandala involves marking the design using chalk on a wooden platform. This process can take one to two days depending on the size and complexity of the design.
Then the monks pour millions of grains of dyed sand from funnel-shaped metal tools called the Chakpur. The chakpur is moved back and forth to release the sand as the colourful decorative pattern comes to life.
Chakpur and bowls of coloured sands
In ancient times, powdered precious and semi-precious stones were used instead of dyed sand e.g. lapis lazuli was used for blue colouring. The monks begin at the center of the Mandala and work their way outward.
Modern day Mandalas have been designed using computer software and printed in books or displayed in digital form. These mandalas are usually designed and created by non-Buddhists and are not considered sacred and commonly used for meditative and relaxation purposes.
Modern computer generated mandala
Colouring Mandala pages can assist adults with de-stressing. The therapeutic benefits of colouring Mandalas was studied by Carl Jung. He found his patients became less stressed as a result of colouring Mandalas.
Colouring has meditation like benefits. Meditation is the art of awareness. Being present. It describes a state of mind free of cluttered thoughts and chatter.
However, most people find it difficult to reach a true state of meditation which requires regular practice. Colouring Mandala books has shown that adults can get the same benefits as meditation.
Colouring the patterns and elaborate designs releases the mind from the daily stresses of life. It makes the mind focus on the presents and attain a level of inner peace.
Completing the colouring of a Mandala gives a sense achievement and satisfaction while those worrying thoughts or daily issues fade away.
Colouring for adults helps with creativity. One of the most important benefits of colouring books for adults is that they help ignite creativity which adults continue to experience in several other facets of their lives. Adults who colour regularly find that they become great at picking colours for their clothes, their interiors etc. Colouring books and pages also help people become more creative in their jobs, analytical thinking activities and several other aspects of work and play.
Colouring for adults helps reduce anxiety. Thousands of adults across the world suffer from anxiety in some form or another. Symptoms of anxiety include feeling helpless, worrying excessively and experiencing disrupted sleep.
Anxiety is compounded by modern day life and the associated routines of commuting, working in sedentary desk bound jobs and work/life imbalance.
Adults that colour Mandalas experience a positive distraction from their worries and stresses. Colouring in the geometric patterns and shapes of a mandala helps patients achieve a relaxed state of mind.
Research has shown that colouring pages and books for adults can be used as part of a treatment program for patients suffering from mental disorders.
We can see that mandalas originate from sacred forms of art created by human beings. They serve as a method for connecting with spirit and the universe. Modern adaptations have turned Mandalas into useful tools to assist with relieving stress and reducing anxiety.
Mandalas are truly a versatile form of art.