What is a Mandala?

Simply put a mandala is a design, drawing or painting within a circle, however there is MORE.

Mandala art is ancient - more than 2,000 years old! It is found in many cultures and used in many different Religious practices.

Mandalas symbolically represent life and its constant cycles and interconnection. Our Earth is a mandala.

The Mandala is a round form that holds a story – our story - about our mental, emotional and spiritual state of being. Mandalas create a safe place to pursue deeper feelings and explore complex patterns of our identity enabling us to retrieve lost or broken pieces to make us complete. Each shape, colour, form and pattern is significant for that journey.

It has been said that mandalas are symbolic pictures of the human psyche as it reaches out towards wholeness. 

What does Mandala mean?

By creating a Mandala we are laying down a map for finding our own way to our self. The signs are specific symbols for what we need to know and realize for our journey. By re-connecting to our story we are guided to wholeness.

In Mandalas the center represents the point from which everything began and the boundary is the central dot magnified or expanded. These two aspects of a Mandala represent the connection between our deep inner self and our outer world, which exist simultaneously. A Mandala therefore is a ‘complete picture’. A mandala is a picture of the process of individuation.

Defining the word Mandala.

The noun mandala is pronounced - man·da·la is explained as being

  1. A geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism.
  2. Such a symbol in a dream, representing the dreamer's search for completeness.


The word mandala itself comes from the ancient text of Sanskrit and is derived of the root  ‘man+da’ which means essence. This same root is used in English to describe ourselves we say man+kind which means an essence within a kindred; a man+(u)script is an essence expressed though words. A man+tra is an essence captured within a sound.

To Manda is added the suffix la, which means container or vessel.

Therefore the connotation of mandala is that it is an essence held within a container.


Why make a mandala?

Sometimes words are not enough to express what we know deep within our core. Mandala art can give us that access.

Mandalas have been used throughout history all over the world for spiritual realization, personal expression and transformation.

Anyone and everyone can make a Mandala.

Artist in residence. Children at a primary school create a large mandala for their harmony garden. It reflects a space where there is peace; a safe place to sit and be. This is the center.

Artist in residence. Children at a primary school create a large mandala for their harmony garden. It reflects a space where there is peace; a safe place to sit and be. This is the center.

Mandalas help us to fulfill our desire for connection and wholeness.

Mandalas are a way to make a 'new world' where we can see things differently and where patterns can form different connections bringing about change.

A mandala creates a sacred space (mostly within a circular shape) which reveals some inner truth about you and/or the world around you. In this way it has a powerful influence on our inner self and how we perceive our connection to the outer world.

Making mandalas allows us to symbolically put together fragmented parts of our self, to join up the pieces to create a pattern that brings harmony and a sense of wholeness.

Making mandalas is a process to connect and create with ‘oneness’.


What is a Mandala for?

Mandalas can be created by individuals to gain knowledge from what we hold in the deepest regions of the mind – our unconscious.

They can tell a story of our inner self using images, forms and colours to symbolize deeply felt feelings when words are not enough.

Mandalas are used to quiet our constant thoughts so that our creative self can be expressed. They give us a point of focus, remind us that nothing is permanent, and connect us to what is truly important.

Mandalas are used for healing.

If you meditate by using a mandala, you can experience a relaxed and connected sense of being. You may find a greater personal understanding of yourself and feel that everything in life is connected in some way.


There are many ways to live life and there are many ways to make a mandala. There is no right or wrong. The most important thing is to be creative and not stifle or judge yourself with expectations – good or bad.

Remember, you do not need to be an artist to create a mandala. It is not about 'being good at it' or perfecting an image. Allow the creative process unfold, learning techniques ans skills as you go forward. You will be surprised by what you can do if you let yourself.

What you need: begin with something 'doable' and use equipment that is accessible. Keep it simple.

  • square sheet of card, paper or canvas
  • tracing paper or piece of baking paper
  • grey lead pencil
  • compass
  • ruler
  • rubber or eraser
  • protractor
  • colors – paints or pastels or crayons or pencils

Create the space:

  • Get comfortable with a firm open surface to work on, good light, soft music or silence if you’d prefer
  • Settle yourself and imagine your worldly life has been left outside this space for now. Perhaps turn your phone off and make a cup of tea or coffee. Take time to relax and be present, ready to express whatever you need. No need to force anything. And begin.

Making the Mandala:

Remember that mandalas emerge and develop as we progress. There are very structured mandalas and others that are in a more open and freer in format. The process IS the creation and just doing is part of the unraveling of the mandala.

Planning each step and the outcome can be very limiting. So be unlimited in your approach.

Using a HB pencil and ruler, divide your square surface into four equal parts.

Working from the centre, use your compass to draw an outer circle to establish a boundary. The area within the circle is a safe and sacred space.

Begin to divide your circle into segments. You can do this free hand or use a protractor. The amount of segments is purely your choice - 4, 5, 6 or more......(click here for more)

Use this web-like grid as a base to build up any pattern. Just ‘play’ with the compass and ruler and see what emerges. Keep building upon this until you are satisfied. Rub out any lines that are not part of the pattern.

You might develop a mandala that is all pattern or, using the spaces, ask yourself what might fit in them. Seek out an image that appeals to you and find or create places where it fits. To repeat images trace and place them until your design is completed.

Adding colour:

Begin adding color until the mandala is complete, adding detail and finishing touches.

Hang the mandala away from you and look at it with appreciation – at least 6 feet and enjoy your achievement. This will give you a new perspective.

Dealing with ‘Art’ Blocks:

Everyone gets blocked during the creative process at some point. Here are some ways to help you to move forward -

  • focus on the section you are doing rather than trying to see a completed picture
  • allow yourself to be immersed in what you’re doing rather than ‘trying’ to do it – just be!
  • if you get stuck, move to another section - the solution will present itself if you leave it for a while
  • experience every step in the process, even the frustration or hating what you’ve done- this is just a stage and it will pass
  • take a break – sleep on it!
  • don’t be afraid to make a mistake
  • dare to experiment
  • let go of the need to be perfect

Celebrate Your Achievement:

  • hang it on the wall
  • get it framed
  • take a photograph of it
  • share it on Facebook
  • send it as a card to a friend
  • enjoy the process and what emerged


Mandala Magic welcomes your comments on your mandala experience and will post images to share.

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
Albert Einstein, The World As I See It