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.” [1]

We might think of Christ as a mandala—a symbol of matter and spirit cohering in and beyond time. Christ is God manifest, both visible and invisible, darkness and light, bringing all things to greater life and love throughout eternity. Christ’s love is the very shape of the universe. Each of us is part of this pattern. Through our conscious participation, we can grow into the fullness of love.

You are invited to create your own mandala as a contemplative practice. 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 an hour or so.

Bring to heart and mind four areas in your life or the world for which you desire healing and wholing. 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 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 of your desires.

Beginning at the corners of the square and, moving outward, create concentric circles with shapes or curving lines. Add color if you wish, slowly filling in the design.

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. You might choose to intentionally burn, bury, or somehow let go of your mandala.

[1] C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective UnconsciousCollected Works of C. G. Jung, trans. R. F. C. Hull, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2014), 384.