The art and therapy of mandalas has reached huge popularity. But what exactly is the meaning and purpose of the beautiful, geometric images we find ourselves drawn to decorate with color?
Merriam-Webster provides these two definitions of mandala: 1. a Hindu or Buddhist graphic symbol of the universe; specifically: a circle enclosing a square with a deity on each side that is used chiefly as an aid to meditation 2. a graphic and often symbolic pattern usually in the form of a circle divided into four separate sections or bearing a multiple projection of an image.
Much meaning can be found in mandalas, historically speaking. Its roots are Hindu and Buddhist. The mandala is a spiritual symbol for the universe. It is used for meditative purposes, as defined above. It literally means “circle” in the Sanskrit language. And mandalas exhibit radial balance. We all know that balance is the core of yoga.
As I read about the history and use of mandalas, I am struck by its purpose to provide a means to induce meditation. In other words, the intricacy of mandala design with the circular and square lines is not without meaning. We should get lost in the mandala, in a way that we can be found. Or perhaps, answers may be found. Or perhaps, calm can be found.
How do we then share this ethereal ideal with children? We introduce softly, as art. Questions may be asked. We can answer of course. It is not just the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism that embrace artistic and geometric art as a means of meditative state. There are Christian mandala symbols as well. So we say, without exclusion, and with full honesty, that mandalas offer us an opportunity to be entranced with art, religion, mindfulness, softness, quietness, in a way that also speaks to our individuality. I can’t imagine two mandalas coming out the same, at the hands of two different children. We’ve come full circle then, no pun intended, when we see that this form of meditative expression brings about creative difference. Isn’t that the essence of our universe? Isn’t it? Being at odds with another is such a hard pill to swallow. Who knew that the mandala could offer a lesson in diversity?