Making a Mandala

Mandala, the Sanskrit word for circle, is a Hindu and Buddhist symbol for the universe. It represents the Whole of which we are a part. In Carl Jung’s words, a mandala is a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness.

There are many ways to make your own mandala; the following is just one idea. Begin by gathering all the materials you’ll need (a large sheet of blank paper, extra paper, scissors, pencil, compass, coloring pencils, markers, paints, etc.). Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for the next hour.

You might start with silence or by journaling, setting an intention for this time and practice. Bring to heart and mind four areas in your life or the world for which you desire healing. Record them on a spare piece of paper using words, symbols, or colors.

Cut the large piece of paper into a square. Mark the center of the page with a small dot and use a compass to draw a circle a couple of inches from the edge of the paper (if you don’t have a compass, trace a small plate or bowl). Within the circle, draw a square and divide it into four quadrants. In each section, draw an image or design that represents each desire. Beginning at the corners of the squares, create concentric circles with repeating shapes or curving lines. Work meditatively, gradually moving toward the edge of the circle and beyond. Add color if you wish, filling in the design methodically and slowly.

When you have finished creating your mandala, consecrate the time, energy, and focus you’ve given to the healing and wholing of self and world. Spend some time simply gazing with non-judgmental eyes at the mandala and surrendering your desires and expectations.

Tibetan and Navajo rituals involve ceremonially destroying their intricate sand mandalas after completion. When your mandalas has served its purpose, you might choose to intentionally burn, bury, or somehow let go of it.

Richard Rohr, The Center for Action and Contemplation

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