Thinking About the Meaning of a Mandala

When I started browsing mandalas in the coloring books for adults I found them enigmatic. They are usually circles or squares that contain figures inside arranged in a symmetrical order. They are commonly used to relax and to meditate. Actually, the word mandala means circle in Sanskrit and it is usually related to Eastern religious practices, such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

The coloring books for adults have templates that you can work as you wish. However, drawing your own mandala can help you to release stress and tension related to feelings that we can't express with words. The mystery behind is why mandalas are relaxing.

I am not an expert on the deep meaning of a mandala in a religious context, but I started thinking of possible answers to this question. The literature says that the circle is a universal symbol. A circle conveys a message of wholeness, completion, eternity, security and safety. When you draw inside a circle you can freely express your emotions inside a safe space with a soft boundary that it is not complicated by intricacies.

I thought about familiar objects that are represented as circles and I found the Sun, the Moon, the planets. We usually cook or eat in pots and dishes that have a circular shape from one's perspective. The tables where we eat, work, discuss are often circular or squared, also our eyes, and mirrors remind me of a mandala. Of course, flowers and butterflies also came to my mind, they are perfect designs found in nature. The time that runs day after day inside the clock in the wall marking the seconds in an exact manner or the wheels that move us from place to place, even a pizza, and a cappuccino are actually similar to the concept of a mandala.

The Clock, The Mystery of Time Inside of a Circle

Wall Clock
Credit: Pexels

Cycles, such as night/day or seasons are associated with the meaning of a mandala.

It is Fun to See a Pizza as a Mandala

A Pizza Looks Like a Mandala

It seems that we, as humans, like to create forms that are circular and full of symmetry. 

A Mandala-like Design on Top of a Cappuccino.

The Foam of a Cappuccino in a Mandala Fashion

This designs on the foam of a cappuccino could be called an Angel Mandala

Folklore and Mandalas

In a therapeutic context, the child round is perhaps one of the most beautiful associations that came to my mind when thinking about the mandala. Several children taking their hands together, singing and moving in a circular fashion is generally a good memory for most people. In the same lines, folklore displays beautiful choreographies where people dance to form geometrical patterns to tell stories about a specific culture.

I selected some videos showing Colombian folklore from diverse regions. I can see these dances as living mandalas. The dresses, the movements, the patterns, the symmetry are an expression of energy, harmony, life, eternity, happiness, communication and cooperation rooted in the past and present of people over the world. If you have some time, please watch these videos, they are fascinating. 

These dances are not related to the coloring books for adults but I could easily use a mandala to express the story, movement, harmonic movements, pirouettes and color enclosed in an imaginary circle drawn by humans dancing.

Folklore and Circular Patterns: A Beautiful Example of a Mandala

This choreography looks like a living mandala. It tells a story connected to the arrival of fishermen to the shore where they are welcome with a dance.

A Mandala Appears to Capture Color and Movement Into Paper.

This choreography is also about a fisherman that talks to the moon and to the shore as he did not have luck with his net. Look at the skirts of the ladies moving as waves of the ocean.

One of the Most Ancient Dances of Colombian Folklore: A beautiful Mandala-Like Arrangement

This is a story about men that are challenged by women to display skills in dancing without falling in the chase.

The Movement of this Couple Paint a Mandala. Her Skirt and Veil are Mandalas

A couple dancing in a Town of the Andes mountains.

The Piñata Party

The Merriam-Webster dictionary online defines piñata as a decorated vessel (as of papier-mâché) filled with candies, fruits, and gifts and hung up to be broken with sticks by blindfolded persons as part of especially Latin American festivities (as at Christmas or for a birthday party).

I never participated in a piñata party as an adult, but I did when I was a child. These parties are common in Latin American countries and are usually the center stage of the celebration. I remember that in our parties, only one child was blindfolded. The rest of the children were around him or her, shouting at him or her while giving directions to find the piñata and break it. I would say that the shape of the piñatas are usually mandala-like designs, and the coöperation required to find and break the piñata from children formed in a circle is also a reminder of the properties I see in a mandala. At the end, the children stormed to the center to pick sweets and toys that felt to the not a very organized fashion, but all of them find themselves in the center picking the fruits of the organized effort. 

In my opinion, all mandala contain a lot of energy. I always see movement inside them. I think this is one of the reasons why a mandala is a source of relaxation, you can design it allowing your mood to choose the colors and patterns you want to imprint in the space you have. 

A piñata is a 3D Mandala,

Credit: Wikipedia Piñata

The 3D (three dimensional) mandalas are also very popular in the art therapy circles.

The Children gather at the Center of the Imaginary Circle to Collect Sweets and Toys

Niños Jugando a la Piñata
Credit: Wikipedia Piñata

Children are getting as many toys and sweets they can.