I’ve always been drawn to mandala designs, both as an artist and as one who appreciates beauty, history, and the depth of meaning behind symbols. A mandala is a grouping of symbols and geometric patterns often arranged in a circular design. Mandala is a Sanskrit word for circle, and it’s often associated with various spiritual traditions and belief systems of south and east asia. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and other groups have utilized mandalas as sacred symbols to map the cosmos, depict a pantheon of deities and forces, or provide a visual aid to achieve meditative or trance states.
The use of circle imagery for worship, meditation, communing with deities or spirits, and achieving transcendent states of consciousness, is not limited to eastern traditions. Both the Aztec and Mayan cultures had circular sacred stone calendars that played a central role in ritual and the mapping of astronomical cycles. The Rosy Cross, the Celtic Cross, the Rosary, and the Halo, are also examples of Christian symbols that are reminiscent of mandalas. There are countless more examples of mandalas and sacred circles used in various cultures around the globe. The mandala has served to symbolize a link between the temporal world and the world of the infinite, helping us make sense of our place in the universe.
Mandalas can be seen as a symbol of our search to restore a sense of wholeness. Carl Jung saw the link between mandala symbols and the need to find psychic balance and harmony. This process of internal harmonization, he called individuation, involves the conscious integration of unconscious 'psychic content', leading to a more complex and fulfilled sense of being. His recognition of the importance of mandalas, and their relation to our individual growth, led him to incorporate the drawing of mandalas as a part of his therapy practice.
Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: ... the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.— Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp. 195–196.
My attraction to drawing mandalas has come about without much conscious intent. Like breathing, it felt like a natural extension of myself to create mandalas and other geometric designs. When I draw, I strive for a sense of beauty and elegance, but always with the unshakeable feeling that there is a deeper process at work. The Jungian process of individuation and internal harmonization seems to ring true. When drawing mandalas, there is a personal internal process at work, and also an attempt at understanding our existence and the many mysterious cycles all around us.
Meditate on the image above. Begin your focus on the outer ring and make your way towards the center spending a few minutes meditating on each level. Imagine a radiant white light behind the calligraphy, intensifying as your meditation progresses from the outer rings towards the center where the light is brightest. Session should be about 10 minutes. Enjoy!