This post comes from contributor Kristen Hedges.
Of all the things that drop me down gently into the present moment, drawing & coloring mandalas has to be my absolute favorite practice. It heals me faster than yoga, snaps me out of frustration better than meditation, and somehow stitches together all of my loose, weathered layers, over and over again. For me, dragging a pencil tip over the paper, bringing loops and geometries and lines into existence out of what once was only white, is like building a bridge between the chaos and chatter of my daily life, and the peace and calm of my meditative mind.
Though the word ‘mandala’ comes from the Sanskrit language in ancient India, these ‘sacred circles’ have been found in hundreds of cultures. They are always symmetrical, and they always draw your eye in towards the center.
Mandalas also occur quite often in nature. In the nesting rings of a tree trunk, the sectioned slice of an orange, and the way the great Universe itself spins around and cradles its clouds.
There are many different vignettes and bits of symbolism that go along with the mandala, all more beautiful than the last. To you, the sacred circle could represent wholeness, or the strength and unity of community, or the lovely, cyclical progression of time.
Whatever meaning you pull from your experience, the practice of both observing and drawing mandalas may be the most natural meditation you ever try. I’ve gotten into the habit of doodling them everywhere, whenever I can – on gift bags, in the margins of my bookwork, and the waiting pages of my sketchbook.
To draw a mandala, you absolutely don’t need to be a professional artist. I encourage everyone to give it a shot – children, adults, spiritual seekers, and stressed out human beings alike.
First, you need a bit of paper. Find whatever you can. A post-it note. A page in your journal. A birthday card to a friend.
You’ll also need something to write with, and you might want a compass – but only if you already have one lying around. Drawing mandalas with the aid of a compass or a protractor is totally optional. It will only make your drawings a bit more tidy. Some days, I’ll use my compass, and others I’ll scrawl my mandala in a wild oval, without regard to the pressure of perfection.
As you begin to draw, be aware. Bring all of your attention to the page. Feel each pencil stroke as a vibration in your hand. Allow it to become a meditation.
Start in the center. Draw a dot, or a circle. From there, build another layer. Fill it with triangles, with circles, with squiggles, branches, or leaves. Draw the petals of lotus flowers, squares of all different sizes, and lines that almost touch. Build outward until you feel that your mandala has settled your mind & your spirit.
If you’d like, you can give your mandala a bit of color. Splash on some acrylic, or watercolor, or plain pencil, if you wish. Or, end with the lines. It’s up to you!
You can also find plain mandalas online, or in books, to color yourself. You can try saving & printing the outline below, and filling it in mindfully with some of your favorite pigments.