Transform Your Life and Yoga Practice with the Power and Symbolism of Mandalas
What Are Mandalas?
You have probably seen mandalas before in yoga and meditation centers. Lately, they also appear in adult coloring books. But other than being pretty designs, have you ever stopped to think about what mandalas actually are?
Mandalas are much more than attractive patterns. Mandalas are beautiful works of geometric art that have a deep religious and spiritual significance. The term mandala means ‘circle’ in Sanskrit. Mandalas are said to symbolically represent the universe. There are an infinite number of possible designs.
The History of Mandalas
Mandalas appear in both Buddhist and Hindu religions, as well as in many non-denominational spiritual practices.
In Hinduism, mandalas were first mentioned in the form of yantras. A yantra is a specific type of mandala, which is linked with the deities. These are geometric designs that are drawn on paper, wood, fabric, metal, sand, or mud, and are used in ceremonies, such as puja. They come to Hinduism through the Tantric tradition and are also present in Tantric Buddhism. There is mention of mandalas in the Rig Veda, the ancient and sacred Vedic text.
In Buddhism, a mandala is a type of sacred image to be contemplated and meditated on. Constructing a mandala from sand is a traditional and meditative process in Buddhism. They are constructed from the midpoint, moving outwards in a circle.
These mandalas are carefully created only to be destroyed shortly afterward. This signifies the impermanence of life on Earth and the importance of the here and now, the process over the final product. There are also a variety of mandalas in two- and three-dimensional images that are present in Buddhist iconography. They were made to be contemplated and hold significant, cosmic meaning.
Mandalas come down to us through these traditions and have been used in many spiritual and religious practices over the centuries, including practices by the Navajo Indians in North America, 12th- century Catholic nuns, and many different schools of meditation and yoga across the globe.
How to Use Mandalas to Enhance Your Practice
Mandalas are a powerful tool to use to focus and calm your mind in meditation. Mandalas can be used in two ways, either through concentrating and meditating on a mandala, or through the creation of one.
Focusing intently on the designs, colors, and shapes in a mandala trains the mind away from the outside world. Single-pointed concentration, the goal of mindfulness and meditation, aids in understanding the meaning of the mandala.
Similarly, when concentrating on the creation of a mandala, the mind can shut out all distractions and focus solely on the meaning.
Each geometric shape within the mandala has a special symbolic significance:
- Square = balance and stability
- Star = spirituality and freedom
- Circle = wholeness and integrity
- Triangle pointed upward = receiving
- Triangle pointed downward = grounding
Colors also have meaning:
- Green = nature, growth, and hope
- White = purity, unity
- Blue = protection, tranquility
- Red = fire, passion
- Yellow = power
Mandalas can be any design, shape, or form that is significant to a person. You can design your own mandalas, imbuing them with your own personal meaning.
Mandalas should exist in places where they can be seen and meditated on. For example, mandalas may be visible in meditation spaces or yoga rooms. You may also choose to have mandalas in any other place or space that serves a spiritual purpose, on a wall hanging, or even your phone cover.
Personally, I have a mandala that is important to me, and I have two images of it. I keep one in my journal, and another I use as a bookmark. I often find myself inadvertently meditating on it. Mandalas can also be worn on clothing, or as pendants on jewelry. This is a powerful way of having keeping a mandala close to you.
Mandalas and Crystals
Mandalas can also be made using gemstones to enhance their power. The shape and color of crystals have specific meanings, the same way shapes and colors in a mandala are significant. Natural mandalas made from sand, wood, rocks, and more may also include crystals.
Some popular crystals and their qualities include:
- Amber = grounding
- Amethyst = relaxation and stress relief
- Jade = harmony, luck, and wisdom
- Quartz = balancing and healing
- Lapis Lazuli = protection
Take some time to find or create a mandala that has a combination of shapes, patterns, and colors signifying what you need at this time. Consider placing your crystals in specific areas to enhance the meditative qualities of your very own personal mandala.
Copyright © 2021 Yogini Soul. All Rights Reserved.
Stephanie Johnson, CYI, Yogini Soul Staff Writer, is an elementary school teacher, yoga teacher, meditation student and writer. She is looking for ways to explore this beautiful, crazy life that we have been gifted and to live it with meaning. Stephanie fell in love with yoga as a teenager and has since traveled across the globe in search of gaining knowledge and experiences to deepen her understanding of yoga, from her home country of Australia, to India and across Asia, to Chile, in South America, where she now lives with her partner and two sons. Connect with her on Instagram.