Make Your Own Mandala

One of the best ways to understand what Mandalas are about is to make your own. One of the most frequent objections is, "But I'm not an artist... I can't even draw a straight line." This is ideal, because the mandala is built on a circle, not a straight line!

Of course, that's rather simplistic, and any art training you might have can come in handy for aesthetic purposes, but the reality is that practically everyone can make a mandala. The easiest way to start is to simply draw a circle and fill it. So that's what this first exercise will do.

Assemble your materials

You will need:

  • a large sheet of drawing paper, 14x17
  • firm surface or clear table on which to work
  • colors of your choice (crayons, colorpencils, or markers are easier and require less clean-up)
  • a large dinner plate, frying pan lid, or other circular shape

You will probably discover quickly that the following suggestions will help:

  • Turn off the radio and television
  • Put on a tape or CD of pleasant instrumental music (classical, New Age, or similar)
  • Find a time and place where others in the house are away or quiet; let them know they should not distract you for about an hour.

Quiet Your Mind

You may already have a favorite form of meditation process, prayer, or other technique that you use to quiet the outside world and enter the sacred space within yourself. If your religion devotes its attention to a named god or goddess, please follow the concepts of your own faith in finding a peace inside.

For those who don't regularly follow a spiritual pathway or religion, I would suggest a very simple way of relaxation called "The Mindfullness Meditation" (from Journey Into Healing (Deepak Choprah; Harmony Books, 1994):

The Mindfulness Meditation

The Mindfulness Meditation technique is a simple meditation procedure that can create a deep state of relaxation in your mind and body. As the mind quiets down but remains awake you will experience deeper, more silent levels of awareness.

1. Start by sitting comfortable in a quiet place where you will have a minimum amount of disturbance.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Breath normally and naturally, and gently allow your awareness to be on your breathing. Simply observe your breath, trying not to control it or alter it in any conscious way.

4. As you observe your breath, you may notice that it changes of its own accord. It may vary in speed, rhythm, or depth, and there may even be occasions with your breath seems to stop for a time. Whatever happens with your breathing, innocently observe it without trying to cause or initiate any changes.

5. You will find that at times your attention drifts away from your breath and you are thinking about other things or listening to noises outside. Whenever you notice you are not observing your breath, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.

6. If, during the meditation, you notice that you are focusing on some feeling, mood, or expectation, treat this as you would any other thought and gently bring your attention back to your breathing.

7. Practice this meditation technique for fifteen minutes.

8. At the end of fifteen minutes, keep your eyes closed and just sit easily for two or three minutes. All yourself to come out of the meditation gradually before opening your eyes and resuming your activity.

Drawing the Mandala

As you finish your meditation or prayer, you may wish to offer a word of thanksgiving to your God or to the Universe at large for the gifts of paper and colors with which to do this exercise. You may also wish to request guidance -- it is VERY common for mandala artists to feel an inner compelling to draw a shape here or fill in a shaper with a particular color, and they have come to understand that is one of the ways the prayer for guidance is answered... you might not see a flashing image in your head, but a quiet urge to use one special color, or to draw a particular shape or design inside your circle.

First, place your plate or other round shape flat down on the paper and with a light color or pencil, trace around it.

Your task is only to fill the circle with whatever you feel belongs there. Fill it with whatever shapes, colors, combinations feel right to you. There are no rules here, and only very few guidelines. Also, there are no accidents -- what seems like a squiggly mistake at first can become one of several ripples on water, or smoke wafts of winter winds.. or whatever you feel it should be.

You will be drawing rather quickly, simply allowing your inner spirit to express onto paper. Try not to censor yourself, or to allow "rules" to interfere. If you feel like drawing a green cat under a purple moon, go right ahead. Also, there is no need to be concerned about if your drawing LOOKS like what it symbolizes to you. An oval shape with a long tale and four legs and pointy ears can be a cat... or a wolf... or a stuffed animal. It is whatever it tells you it is, and nothing else matters at this point.

You will notice after 30 minutes or so that the mandala seems to be telling you, "stop". If you feel compelled to continue on, you may do so. Or you may feel more comfortable setting it aside for the day and coming back another time, starting over with the meditation time to relax your brain once again.

Once your mandala is finished, date it. If you have worked on it over several days, right down the date of each day it was worked on.

Post your mandala to the wall where you can see it regularly. Each day spend a few moments simply looking at it, and allow it to explain itself to you. As you get new thoughts about what it might mean, write these observations in the margins around the edge of the paper.

Return Home Home
Copyright 1998 Ray S. Whiting