Nowadays practically everyone should have heard about mandala designs. If you are a colorist, then you have already tried or plan on trying mandala coloring pages, because they are extremely popular among the fans of this creative hobby. But why do we feel so drawn to these mysterious symbols? Do we know the real deep meaning behind them? And most importantly, can we use mandalas not only for fun but to incorporate it into our spiritual growth and benefit from its healing powers?
Mandala represents unity, wholeness, connection and the circle of life. It is aimed to enlighten and contribute to the spiritual development, which allows entrepreneurs to use the sacred mandala meaning nonstop for promotional purposes. You may even come across some books where mandalas are introduced as an easy way to quit smoking.
In this article, we are going to investigate if it’s truly possible to use mandala designs and mandala coloring pages for relaxation, inspiration, and healing.
The Origin and the Meaning of a Mandala
Most of us see mandala designs as circles with complex geometrical designs. However ancient Indian and Tibetan Buddhist monks would respectfully disagree. Mandala, or container of essence, has always had a sacred religious meaning. The Tibetan created mandalas and used them for meditations. Mandala was a symbol of the universe in its ideal shape and form. Since the first century B.C.E. it signified the transformation of a universe of suffering into a universe of joy. In India, mandalas were a part of the sacred Hindu temples design and were included in many religious rituals.
In the early 20th century Carl Jung (the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst) studied the healing potential of mandalas and as a result, introduced them as a therapeutic tool for exploring the unconscious through art making. He described his own experience with drawing mandala circles as a reflection of his inner state at that moment. Carl Jung suggested that creating mandala designs contributed to the rebalancing process and the wholeness of personality.
Deities in a Palace
Now let’s dive deeper into the symbolic meaning of mandalas. We learned that it’s actually more than just a circle with nice drawings in it. It includes many symbols and each of them is there for a reason.
In major cases, mandalas are associated with a symbolic palace and serve as a container for qualities that one should obtain in order to enter this palace. These qualities may vary: from purity and devotion and up to wisdom and strength. All the qualities are depicted in several layers of circles that form a protective gate around the palace which usually has four gates, oriented to all the four directions: south, north, east and west.
Traditionally, the palace is always located in the center of the mandala design. Depending on the culture and tradition it belongs to, the palace has a certain symbol portrayed in it. Mandala symbols are usually either some deities or some world-known symbols like a wheel – the Buddhist path, a diamond -clear consciousness, a thunderbolt – male symbol and a bell – female symbol.
One can also meet Tibetan mandalas portraying a deity in the center of a palace with other deities around the central circle. In this case, the central deity should be treated as the generative source of a mandala and the nearby deities demonstrate the powers of the central one.
Mandala Designs and Sandpainting
As you already know Mandalas are traditionally used in Buddhist practices to represent the relationship with the universe. Buddhist monks have to actually go through a comprehensive training in order to learn how to create mandala designs. Surprisingly, they don’t do it on paper! Once the training is over, they lay the sand and can spend up to one week drawing a mandala on it.
The thing is that according to Buddhism, mandalas constructed from sand do transfer positive energy to not only people who view them, but to the whole environment as well. Monks believe that sand mandalas can produce a purifying effect on a soul and a healing effect on a body. It is believed that mandala sandpainting was first introduced by Buddha himself.
Mandala painting procedure always starts with an opening ceremony, sort of a deep meditation, where the monk concentrates and appeals to the forces of goodness. So if you decide to try painting your first sand mandala designs, don’t forget to prior immerse yourself in the state of internal balance.
Once mandala is complete, the monk asks the deities for a healing blessing during the ceremony. The ready-made sand mandalas are removed only with a special brush. The sand is carefully swept from the perimeter to the center of the mandala. And even the process of mandala destruction has a certain meaning. It symbolizes the impermanence of life.
Types of Mandala Designs
In various traditions where mandalas are used, one can find different rites where the practitioner starts a dialogue with a certain symbol or deity and moves progressively from the outside towards the center when painting a mandala. Once he reaches the center, he metaphorically connects with the core symbol (deity) thus getting closer to his or her goal of enlightenment. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are basically two types of mandala designs, which are mostly the variations of the Two Realms. The Mandala of the Two Realms is a set of two generic mandalas portraying both Five Wisdom Buddhas of the Diamond Realm as well as the Five Wisdom Kings of the Womb Realm.
So there are two types of canonical mandala designs. The Diamond Realm which symbolizes indestructibility and hardness, with purity on the opposite side. This term is contrasted with the Womb Realm. The Diamond Realm represents the wisdom of Buddha, while the Womb Realm represents the fundamental truth.
In general, the type of mandala designs has less meaning comparing to its main aim – enlightenment through the drawing process. So let’s try to briefly investigate where we can meet mandala designs and in what way they can help us in our modern world.
Mandala for Healing and Relaxation
Mandala designs are mostly used as a form of art therapy nowadays. We are all fascinated by the circular forms and designs, however, modern mandalas don’t necessarily imply the sacred meaning in the painting (apart from the Buddhism practices). The word mandala is translated from Sanskrit as the “sacred circle”, but it’s fair to say that in our everyday life mandalas are aimed mostly at stress-relief rather than at something sacred.
There are three main ways to use mandalas for improving your inner state and health. We can create them, color them or meditate on them.
Mandala Designs and Meditation
This is a very simple but powerful practice that will require from 10 up to 30 minutes of your time every day. Just find the mandala painting that speaks to you, choose a calm location and start concentrating on the center of your mandala design. Allow yourself to relax and be in the moment. Slowly move your eyes from the center to other parts of your mandala. If you are distracted, which will be happening often at the beginning, simply bring your focus back to the mandala and breath deeply. You may start experiencing joy and the feeling of tranquility.
Mandalas from Scratch
This practice is very interesting and special. First, you can meditate a little bit and focus on the intention of your future mandala design. What kind of healing power would you like to evoke in it? You can choose any medium you want, such as sand, crayons, pencils, watercolors or even rocks. Start creating your mandala from inside out. There are no strict rules that you absolutely have to follow. Just trust your intuition and concentrate on the healing intention. Once the mandala is done, you can use it for your meditation practices or hang on the wall as a piece of sacred art.
Mandalas and Adult Coloring
Coloring mandalas is a truly fun and joyful experience. There are lots of different mandala coloring sheets for adults on the web, so you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the variety. Start with downloading Favoreading mandala coloring pages and have fun. It is believed that mandala coloring can help an artist reveal self-restoring abilities. So don’t waste your time. Choose any medium you want, focus on the positive intention and start coloring beautiful mandala designs.
The Meaning of Colors
While we are absolutely free to choose any colors when working on our mandala designs, it should be noted that in traditional Buddhism the color of the mandala was crucial. Five colors were associated with five personifications of the Buddha and five main delusions of the human nature.
White – Vairocana: It represents the transformation of ignorance into wisdom.
Yellow – Ratnasambhava: It symbolizes pride healed by compassion.
Red – Amitabha: It heals attachment and turns it into confidence and discernment.
Green – Amoghasiddhi: It symbolizes the victory of unconditional love and accomplishment over jealousy.
Blue – Akshobhya: It turns anger into self-perception.
Now that we learned all the interesting details about mandala designs you can try and test their healing powers yourself. In overall, it’s fair to admit that mandalas are powerful tools to express your inner senses and then understand them.
Mandala designs can really help you feel calm and centered and you can use them for self-expression. If you intend to include mandala into your adult coloring hobby, check out our post on color therapy that will help you better understand the meaning of different colors and learn how to choose them wisely.