Mandala work is many-dimensional and teaches a way to connect to one’s higher self. Anyone can draw and/or paint mandalas; no prior art training, experience, or special talent is needed. The “finished product” should not be judged as a “work of art.” Its value is as a document one can come back to as evidence of the encounter.

In Sanskrit, mandala means “circle.” Psychologist Carl Jung would routinely spend time each morning recording his dreams, writing in his journal, and drawing circles and “elaborating” them (filling them in) in whatever manner appealed to him. Afterwards he would feel refreshed and ready for the day’s activities. He noticed that his drawings seemed to reflect his state of mind. He later compared some of his more elaborate paintings to what Tibetan Buddhists call mandalas, graphic symbols of the universe. In that culture and others, including Southwestern American Indians, mandalas are used as aids to meditation.

According to Susanne F. Fincher in Creating Mandalas:

“When we create a mandala, we make a personal symbol that reveals who we are at that moment. The circle we draw contains—even invites—conflicting parts of our nature to appear. Yet even when conflict surfaces, there is an undeniable release of tension when making a mandala. Perhaps this is because the form of the circle recalls the safe closeness of the womb. The calming effect of drawing a circle might also be caused by its capacity to serve as a symbol of the space occupied by our bodies. Drawing a circle may be something like drawing a protective line around the physical and psychological space that we each identify as ourself. The mandala invokes the influence of the Self, the underlying pattern of order and wholeness, the web of life that supports and sustains us. By making a mandala we create our own sacred space, a place of protection, a focus for the concentration of our energies. When we express our inner conflicts in the symbolic form of the mandala, we project them outside ourselves. A sense of unity may be achieved merely from the act of drawing within the circle.”


  Spirit, Light My Fire

Jung’s ideas of the importance and use of the mandala have been carried forth by art therapist Joan Kellogg. However, Kellogg believed that the mandala need not be limited to religious or therapeutic uses. It can be a means of self-discovery, personal growth, and spiritual enrichment.

Mandalas used in the manner of Jung and Kellogg are created spontaneously, intuitively, with no deliberate forethought. While most often they are drawn within a circle, those drawn intuitively may also end up as ovals, squares, octagons, or no particular set shape.

Shades of Light from Within

By paying attention to the thoughts and emotions that arise while creating a mandala in a spontaneous fashion, one can become aware of important feelings and issues that need attention.

Sometimes mandalas are created with deliberate forethought using specific images as symbols. One may be led to draw images to answer important questions about what is going on in one’s life. I experienced such a process many years ago at a workshop I attended. I discussed the results in my book Guided by Dreams. 

Another example of a mandala created with deliberate forethought is the one I created years ago to represent my experience of radiation therapy for breast cancer. To learn how I came to create this, how the forms and colors were carefully chosen to represent various ways I was looking at the many levels of my experience, and to see the mandala, go to  Radiation Therapy Mandala ›››

For more information about a Guided Process for Creating Mandalas and to see additional examples of mandalas, read ›››

For an example of creating mandalas to help one understand a dream, read ›››


© Rachel G. Norment 2010—2015Radiation_Therapy.htmlA_Guided_Process.htmlDream_Medicine.htmlDream_Medicine.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3



  Seeking Tranquillity






Life Bubbling Up